Activists: Honor Japan constitution’s peace clause

Published October 13, 2011

The ruins of a hall destroyed by the 1945 US bombing of Hiroshima. Activists have urged the U.S. and Japan to honour the war-renouncing clause of the Japanese Constitution.

Tokyo-More than 200 religious peace activists from ten countries have urged the U.S. and Japanese governments to honour the war-renouncing clause of the Japanese Constitution and stated their opposition to militarization in Asia and elsewhere.

In a statement on Oct.8 following a three-day meeting at Okinawa Christian University, the Third Asia Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution urged the U.S. and Japanese governments "to honour Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution and strongly oppose any attempt by the Japanese government to revise [it]."

The Okinawa islands are a former fierce battlefield between the U.S. and Japan during the Second World War, and U.S. military bases are still located there.

In the statement, the conference also urged "the communities of faith in the United States to consider their complicity as U.S. citizens in U.S. policies toward Okinawa, examine their consciences, and join in advocacy for the closure of Futenma and other bases in Okinawa as well as the abandonment of plans to build a new base in Henoko," a village on the northeast coast of the Okinawa main island.

The conference resolved that, "recognising the horrific human toll of U.S. wars and empire-building, that persons of faith join the global peace movement and oppose the imperial militarization of Asia, the Middle East and beyond."

Article 9 reads, "Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes."

It continues, "In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."

"We … reject foreign military basing arrangements, be it the physical bases in Okinawa and the naval base in Jeju, Korea, or unhampered access to land, air, and naval facilities as contained in the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the United States," the statement said.

During a gathering in Tokyo on Oct.8, Junaid Ahamad, a speaker of the Muslim Peace Fellowship, from Pakistan, and president of the U.S.-based National Muslim Law Students Association, said, "we moved beyond simplistic dialogue to the much more needed interreligious solidarity for peace and justice."

"We can walk together in non-violence as we struggle together in our common journey for building peace," said Takao Takeda, a Japanese Buddhist priest. Takeda said he hoped to learn from a nonviolent, non-obedience movement in Okinawa that was led by Shoko Ahagon, the late Christian peace movement leader and author of a photo documentary entitled, The Island Where People Live.

Asked how people can address the economic driving forces and root causes of the militarisation, Jonathan Frerichs, programme executive of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, told the gathering’s audience about a man struggling to regain his land on a military base in Okinawa as a "sine qua non for economic justice."


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