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Essay and Opinion

A Structured Policy Proposal to Realize Article 9

June 2007

Akira Maeda (Professor at the Tokyo Zokei University)

--- You visited countries without military forces, and have serialized that experience in the monthly magazine "Law and Democracy". The series is very interesting. Would you please share its purpose with us?

(Mr. Maeda)
Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution forbids any possession of military capabilities, and I believe that there is a need to discuss the Article's significance in the context of world-history, from a contemporary perspective. 60 years have already passed since the Constitution of Japan went into effect, but those who support the current Constitution construct arguments based on what it meant 60 years ago when it was promulgated, not on its contemporary meaning. For a modern state, 60 years is a long period of time. It's crucial to discuss the significance of the Constitution in 2007, 60 years after its promulgation.

Currently, there are approximately 200 countries or political entities. Within those countries, Japan's Article 9 that was promulgated 60 years ago receives much attention, but there are 27 countries in the world without military forces such as Costa Rica that made it clear in its Constitution not to have a regular army. Some argue that it is senseless to not possess military capability as a nation, but that is not necessarily true. I try to illustrate this by referring to countries without armies.

This is also about exploring opportunities for Japan to contribute to world peace by utilizing Article 9. The Japanese Constitution was established in 1947, and it should be examined how much the principle of Article 9 spread in the World, how much effort was put into its diffusion since then. There are 27 countries without a military force, but it wouldn't be surprising if there were more countries without military capabilities.

In addition, we must also examine the magnitude of the armed forces and the efforts to arms control. As a matter of fact, 60% of the world's military expenditure is occupied by the top 10 military superpowers including the United States. The 27 countries without a military have no military expenditure. I would like to draw attention to the fact that more than the remaining 100 countries which have armies each account for less than 0.1% of global military spending. This 0.1% is less than the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department's budget. Although the majority of the countries hold military forces, they are small in size, small in the sense that their fiscal scale is much smaller than that of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.

We must also examine how arms control and the abandonment of military force has been pursued globally, as well as how Japan has contributed to this movement.

--- That's an important issue you raised. Could you expand on what we should learn from countries without armies, with your experience of actually having visited them?

(Mr. Maeda)
Most countries without military forces are small nations that don't or can't hold military forces because of their weaker economical strength. This context differs from that of Japan, but there is still much that Japan can learn from these countries.

In order for countries without military forces to prevent conflicts with other nations, they have no choice but to pursue peaceful diplomacy and to realize their respective regional security policies. For example, Dominica, Grenada and Saint Lucia created the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. Tahiti, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the south Pacific created a network called the South Pacific Forum, and signed the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Rarotonga Treaty).

The Republic of San Marino, which is a small country surrounded by Italy obtained its independence and security by cooperating with Italy when the Italians and Austrians fought war.

Luxemburg is a country that sends it citizens to NATO, and it's not precisely a country without a military force, but its peaceful diplomacy deserves attention. It was Luxemburg that took initiative in creating the EEC (European Economic Community) and the EC (European Community), which served as the basis for establishing the EU. The small nation Luxemburg certainly maintained its existence and security through diplomacy.

In contrast to the diplomatic efforts of these countries, Japanese diplomacy lacks strategy and ingenuity. Of course, one can say that the East Asian region is complex, and it is hard to establish peace and security in this region. However, I must say that it seems as if Japanese diplomacy is entirely dependent upon the American security strategy. Since Japan is the biggest ODA (Official Development Assistance) donor, it seems natural to expand on how this achieves peace and stability, but no one seems to be thinking from this perspective. Now is the time to establish peace diplomacy so that we are not militarily attacked, and so that we can prevent military conflict between nations.

--- Your viewpoint is a proposal for the Japanese government, but at the same time it raises issues towards movements that support the Constitution, isn't it?

(Mr. Maeda)
In those who want to protect that current Constitution oppose revision try to expand the movement by just advocate "oppose pejorative revision". Around 30 years ago, many people used to argue "Follow what is written in our Constitution", so there has been some change. The greater emphasis on opposing pejorative revision is quite understandable, since the movement for "pejorative revision" is progressing ferociously.

However, even at this point, I believe it essential that we carry on a campaign by raising our voices about the principles of Article 9, so that we can make policy proposals that realize the contents of the Constitution. Furthermore, unless we pursue such a campaign, I believe it is difficult to prevent a "pejorative revision" from happening.

From that viewpoint, the Liberal Democratic Party has realized to some extent the Constitution after it took effect, through various policy proposals. On the other hand, those who want to protect the Constitution have weak policy proposals. I have worked on attempts to establish the people's court that judges the American military actions against Iraq and Afghanistan, and attempts to enact Armless Region Ordinances. Currently, a campaign has been launched to hold an "Article 9 Global Conference" in 2008, to examine and identify the significance of Article 9 in the context of world history with people from all around the globe. Through my involvement in these campaigns, it is my conviction that we must organize and realize systematic policy proposals in achieving the principles of Article 9.

--- Thank you for raising many essential and extensive issues. Your continued support would be greatly appreciated.