"Spiritual Adventure of Article 9" to be appreciated
by many people
-"Freshness of the Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution
- Discussion among Japanese and German students"
May 19, 2008
Hitoshi Sakurai (Former Executive Director
of the NHK)
On April 29, 2008, JICL had a seminar entitled "Inspecting
Germany and Japan from the Constitution's view point"
on the occasion of the publication of "Freshness
of the Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution - Discussion
among Japanese and German students." Below is the
speech made by its editor Hitoshi Sakurai in that seminar.
Mr. Shuichi Kato, a critique, says that people are mentally
imprisoned after graduating from schools until they get old
enough to retire. He means to say that we are usually chained
to companies or something which we work for. Students and
old people have always been free. Forty years ago, in 1968,
students freely spoke a lot about social issues. It was the
time of disputes in many universities. Today's students are
generally tamed. Mr. Kato says that it is possible to prevent
the revision of the Article 9 of our Constitution, if students
work together with old people who take part in Article 9 Association
and other movements.
I was a student of a university in 1968, when students' unrest
was taking place all around me. Then I worked for the NHK
for about 40 years. During that time, I was mentally imprisoned.
Shuichi Kato said in one occasion that "Article 9 is
a theme of spiritual adventure for the Japanese people."
I would like to tell you how I interpret this phrase and why
I titled the new book of German students' essays about Japan's
Constitution Article 9 "Freshness of the Article 9 of
the Japanese Constitution - Discussion among Japanese and
Japanese people are usually good at adjusting to the prevailing
atmosphere. We usually leave everything to the majority. However,
many Japanese people become determined to guard the Article
9 when they are enticed to give it up. It is quite unusual
for Japanese people to continue this kind of spiritual adventure
for more than a half century.
The Article 9 has experienced a long adventure, traveling
against the wind across rough oceans. Recently, Japan has
almost committed itself to collective self-defense operations
with the USA in their horrible war against terrorism. Therefore,
we need, not only to protect the Article 9, but also to activate
and utilize it to stop the war. I believe that such actions
comprise Mr. Shuichi Kato's idea of "spiritual adventure."
The Article 9 continues its adventure while we struggle to
protect it and utilize it. Our next step is going to be propagating
its idea all over the world. When the Article 9 is put into
global context, Japanese people will see its importance and
proudly renew their resolution to protect it. This kind of
effect is one of the important things we hope to create when
we try to put the Article 9 on the global stage.
Some people from countries troubled by civil wars respond
without hesitation, "That is what we have wanted!"
when they see the Article 9. Japanese people must have welcomed
it in the same manner soon after the defeat in the war.
On the other hand, we hear a different reaction that "Japan
does not observe its Constitution's Article 9, which prohibits
military forces, at all. It has military forces that are dispatched
abroad." Such voices are often raised by those who come
from the countries that possess military forces while severely
restricting their use and actions, such as Germany. We need
to examine how we are treating the Article 9, before thinking
about the delivery method and the contents of our message
to the world. Before recommending the Article 9 to the others,
we need to see if we are really protecting, appreciating and
utilizing it. It is another aspect of the "spiritual
adventure" that we learn other people's points of view
when we promote the Article 9 abroad.
We can read essays by Japanese students who died as soldiers
in Asia and the Pacific during the World War II, in a book
titled "Kike Wadatsumi no Koe (Last Friends)." In
Germany, a book of letters from student-soldiers who died
in the World War I has been published. These books write about
different times and locations. However, they both are records
of voices of students who went to war and died. These voices
inspired me to edit "Freshness of the Article 9 of the
Japanese Constitution - Discussion among Japanese and German
students." I am sure that Mr. Shuichi Kato desires to
prevent the war by protecting and utilizing the spirit of
the Article 9, rather than reading after the war what the
We decided to write this book in both Japanese and German,
in order to promote discussion among Japanese and German students
about the spirit of the Article 9, and to further test it
in a different country with different social and cultural
background. We tried not only to express the idea of Article
9, but also to reconsider its conditions with a lot more people.
The Global Article 9 Conference to Abolish War is taking place
in Makuhari Messe in Chiba from the 4th to the 6th of May.
(editor's note: More than 20,000 people including 150 guests
from 31 foreign countries took part.) That is going to be
another stage for the Article 9's adventure. Japan and the
world will benefit from globalization of the Article 9. I
hope that this book "Freshness of the Article 9 of the
Japanese Constitution - Discussion among Japanese and German
students" will be the starting point of such a trend.
The Article 9 continues its adventure in Japan. It has met
some challenges. When constitutional rights of individuals
are threatened, the Article 9 steps in and tries to restore
the rights. There are over 7000 groups of Article 9 Association
in Japan, some of whose names are "Article 9 Association
of the Handicapped and the Patients" or "Minamata
Article 9 Association." In order to find out the nature
of the problem, we can ask ourselves the following questions.
What do the handicapped, the sick and the Article 9 have in
common? What do Minamata and the Article 9 have in common?
One possible answer may be that tanks and wheelchairs can
not go together well. Then we notice that vitalizing the Article
9 possibly helps to protect the rights of the handicapped
and the sick and to change "handicapped person independence
support law." In other words, the Article 9 exists like
our bulwark. It protects our constitutional rights and freedom.
Therefore, it should be maintained strong enough to fully
protect our rights and freedom.
Social gap has been widening, and threats have been growing
against people's rights and freedom. On the other hand, people's
networks are growing across borders beyond our expectations.
It may be possible for the Article 9 supporters to form "multitude,"
or the majority with different characters who are joined in
a network. We need to continue the Adventure of the Article
9 by recruiting more participants domestically and internationally.
I've just grown old enough to retire. I have more freedom.
Now, I am in a good position to coordinate the working people
and the retired people. I hope that more people will join
the spiritual adventure of the Article 9.