Dear Japan, please don’t give up your unique and inspiring experiment in peace!

Kumar Sundaram

The unique status of Japan, as a country with no active military, stands to be diluted today as the right-wing PM Shinzo Abe is going to bring security laws in the parliament undermining the Article-9 of the Japanese constitution that prohibits it from keeping an army and resorting to belligerence in international affairs.

Opposition lawmakers hold signs opposing the vote and security bills as the bills were voted on at the House of Representatives special committee on security bills on Wednesday. Picture courtesy: Yomiuri Shimbun
Opposition lawmakers hold signs opposing the vote and security bills as the bills were voted on at the House of Representatives special committee on security bills on Wednesday. Picture courtesy: Yomiuri Shimbun

While it’s true that the Japanese politicians had found their way to justify militarisation and the so called Self-Defense Force(SDF) is nothing less than a proper army in terms of strength and capabilities, but legally it has been the constitution that has prevented Japan so far from participating into US wars and muscle-flexing in East Asia, where people still haven’t forgotten the history of brutality during the World War II. Although the peace clause in the Japanese constitution was enforced by the victorious American regime, the common people of Japan – workers, students, women – who were exploited and forced into war by their own wartime dispensation lapped up this status and defended it vehemently when the US soon did a u-turn and wanted Japan to participate in the Korean war in early 1950s.

Thousands of Japanese citizens have been coming out on the streets in Japan over last few months to oppose Shinzo Abe’s moves to re-militarise Japan. The tide of popular disapproval is also reflected in more than 80% negative voting on the issue of LDP govt’s militarist moves. Earlier, people protested when Shinzo Abe changed the interpretation of the constitution last year, there were massive protests when the LDP govt decided to change the law to allow Japan to export arms.

The neocons in the American establishment have been pushing for Japanese re-militarisation for long time, to further their own strategic interest in the region to contain China. India also hasn’t been far behind in joining the US-India-Japan axis in Asia, which stands to threaten peace and stability. Not only India is going to be the first beneficiary of loosening of Japanese weapons export regime, but also the joint army exercises in the Indian ocean have worsened the security situation.

For the peace-loving people of the world, Japan has served as unique example of a pacifist state. The very idea of a state existing without militarism has been inspiring, despite all its challenges and contradictions. Today, Shinzo Abe’s security bills would mark a serious blow to this historic and grand experiment in peace. The battle would stretch to the upper house of the Japanese parliament where again Abe would need a majority approval. But Japan’s re-militarisation is something that should concern all the peace-loving people from across the world and needs a global response.

The author is Senior Researcher and Campaigner, Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace(CNDP), India.