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Essay and Opinion

Review of an article: "How Korean students read Japan's Constitution Article 9"

December 8, 2008

Hitoshi Ohkawa (Director of Japan Institute of Constitutional Law)

In this year 2008, "Guntai no nai kokka - 27 countries without armies" was published. It disclosed that there are 27 nations that have no armed forces. In May, 150 delegates from 41 countries and regions took part in the Global Article 9 Conference in Japan, and demonstrated the world's attention to the Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution which denies the possession of armed forces and prohibits the belligerent rights.
However, many people in many countries still believe that a normal nation righteously possesses armed forces. In fact, most nations of the world have military troops, and we seldom hear any discussion about disbanding them.
How well do people of the world know about the Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution? How do they evaluate it? Japanese people have a lot to learn from the voices from other countries about the Article 9. They often show us something we can not find by ourselves.
November 2008 issue of monthly "Hogaku Seminar" features "Questionnaire survey of Korean students' view on Japan's Constitution Article 9." Professor Mizushima Asaho of Waseda University wrote a comment on that survey. Korean students' remarks were very fresh and impressive.
In 2008, Japan Institute of Constitutional Law published "Freshness of the Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution - Discussion among Japanese and German students" which is a compilation of comments by German and Japanese students regarding the Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan. I hope that our Article 9 will become better known to many other students and people of other nations of the world. Japanese people also need to give a fresh look at our Article 9, and to learn more about it.