After the end of World War II, the Japanese constitution, written by the United States for the defeated Japanese, rejected war as a solution for conflict. Article 9 states: "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."
Now 61 years later, the Bush administration is undermining the spirit and intent of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution by urging the Japanese government to allow the Japanese Self-Defense forces to provide air and sea logistics assistance to Bush's war on Iraq. Former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage in 2004 complained that "Article 9 is an impediment to the US-Japanese alliance," an alliance the Bush administration wants to use to spread the financial and military operational burden of the war on Iraq.
Over the objections of many Japanese citizens, the Japanese government havs provided limited numbers of refueling ships for resupplying American warships and logistic transport aircraft that fly supplies into Baghdad. A recent decision by the High Court of Nagoya found that Japanese Air Self-Self Defense Force missions into Iraq were unconstitutional as they violated Article 9.
80 percent of the Japanese people want their government to retain their constitutional rejection of war and they are organizing to protect Article 9. In every city and village in Japan there is an Article 9 committee that meets frequently to educate the public on the need to retain Article 9 as it has played an important role in establishing trust relationships between Japan and the Asia-Pacific region. According to the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, Article 9 is of critical importance for the prevention of conflict and is the "foundation for collective security for the entire Asia-Pacific region."
On May 3, Japanese Constitution Day, tens of thousands of Japanese in Tokyo gathered for a rally and march to protect Article 9. On May 4 over 8,000 Japanese attending the Global Article Nine Conference to Abolish War listened to speakers from all over the world, including Americans Cora Weiss of the Hague Appeal for Peace, US Army conscientious objector Aidan Delgado and myself, a former US Army colonel and a diplomat who resigned in opposition to the Iraq war, who urged the Japanese people to continue to reject participation in war. 1976 Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire called for nations of the world to look toward the Japanese constitution as a model for preventing armed conflict.
Japanese citizens remembering World War II, as Americans citizens today, know the slippery slope of offensive military actions for political and/or economic objectives. The Bush administration's decision to invade and occupy, without the authorization of the collective international community through the United Nations Security Council, the oil-rich, Arab, Muslim country of Iraq reminds the Japanese of their invasion of resource-rich countries of Asia 70 years ago. Those actions resulted in a moral, ethical and legal crisis for Japan, as similar actions over the past five years by the United States have brought our country to national crisis.
Many Japanese government officials were tried for war crimes for their actions during World War II.
Holding officials of the American government accountable for their illegal actions in Iraq, for torture, and for illegal imprisonment of thousands of innocent men, women and children is the next step in American and international determination to end illegal wars of choice and making those responsible who do chose to use bullets rather than words.
For more information on the Global Article 9 Conference to Abolish War, see www.whynot9.jp/index_en.html
Ann Wright is a 29 year US Army/US Army Reserve veteran who retired as a Colonel. She was also a US diplomat for 16 years and served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned in March, 2003 from the US Government in opposition to the Iraq war. She is the co-author of "Dissent: Voices of Conscience."