Passing Japan’s Security-related Bills—the Breakdown of the Constitutional Law, of Democracy, and of Pacifism
Osamu Takeuchi, S.J.
Before daybreak on September 19, 2015, two security-related bills were railroaded through the plenary session of Japan’s House of Councilors with 148 votes for them and 90 against. However, over 90 percent of Japan’s constitutional scholars as well as the successive Cabinet Legislation Bureau Secretaries and former chiefs of the Supreme Court declared with one voice that the bills were unconstitutional. In addition, though the majority of the nation opposed the bills, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his government and his party refused to listen. Even the vote itself is not valid according to the statement of 225 lawyers. This is obviously an outrage against democracy.
This outrage involves three breakdowns. First of all, this is a breakdown of constitutional law. The constitution is essential to hinder the abuse of power. “The Emperor or the Regent as well as Ministers of State, members of the Diet, judges, and all other public officials have the obligation to respect and uphold this Constitution” (Article 99 of the Constitution of Japan). However, the government and the ruling party ignored this restraint. If a government arbitrarily reinterprets or changes the constitution without following procedures laid down by that constitution, it effectively rejects the constitution. This is, in effect, a coup d’état.
The second breakdown is that of democracy. The government and the ruling parties claim that the bills were adequately discussed. However, while they explained their need for the security-related bills, they never addressed the logical contradictions of their argument or the constitutional legality of the bills. The length of time they spent talking is irrelevant; the content of their argument was insufficient.
The third breakdown is that of Japan as a beacon of peace. Japan has built up its commitment to peace through the 70 years since World War II. This peace has been guaranteed by the constitution of Japan, especially by article 9 which says:
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 means of settling international disputes.
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.
The Japanese government appears see the world only through US eyes. The new security-related laws will make Japan serve US military goals, participating in their wars instead of being a bulwark of peace for the world. Japan had aimed to show the world that a country without the means or threat of war could survive and thrive.