In April 2012, the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (then out of power) gave shape to their longtime assertion in favor of the revision of the current Constitution of Japan in the form of presenting their draft of the Revised Constitution of Japan (hereafter unless otherwise mentioned, it would be referred to as the LDP draft). The LPD draft thoroughly rewrote the preamble to the current constitution where sincere regret for war-induced/related victimization and colonialism inflicted by Japan, taken together with (its resultant) pacifism and internationalism, is proclaimed. And, the new draft preamble ends thus: “Hereupon, we, the Japanese people, in order to pass down an honorable tradition and our nation-state forever and ever to our posterity, establish this Constitution.”
Moreover, the LDP draft proclaims the emperor to be Japan’s head of state in its 1st article; overturns the obligation to respect and uphold the constitution under which the “Emperor and the Regent” and others currently holding public office are placed by the current 99th article; and accordingly, with its new 102nd article reading, “All the Japanese people must respect this constitution,” even attempts to violate one of the fundamental principles, namely the principle of the sovereignty of the Japanese people. And, the 9th article, with the LDP draft’s deletion of its current second section, turned into a new one containing a clause that grants the government the right to collective self-defense. Furthermore, the 11th and 13th, both of which have much to do with respect for the fundamental human rights, are revised; meanwhile, the 97th article, which declares that the constitution as committed to guaranteeing the fundamental human rights is the supreme law of the state, is deleted. In short, “the Constitution” as the LDP wants to establish it newly is the one that denies all three of the fundamental principles in the current constitution, namely respect for the fundamental human rights, the sovereignty of the Japanese people, and pacifism.
We, the presenters of this Call to Action Statement, felt terrified that the LPD draft dares to run counter to the principle of constitutionalism per se―the idea that constitution is to restrain state power from going out of control in order to respect the fundamental human rights and individual dignity to the utmost. Upon their sweeping victory in the December 2012 general election for the House of Representatives, such disregarding political attitude of the LDP towards constitutionalism (as the hard-won wisdom finally having been made available/accessible to human beings following their age-long tragic history) was strikingly manifested: the then LDP President, Shinzo Abe referred to the revision of the 96th article of the current constitution that prescribes the procedure for any constitutional revision. His reference to the revision of the 96th article constitutes nothing but a challenge to constitutionalism which holds that a constitution is what guarantees each individual’s precious human rights and that state cannot make any law at odds with this constitution.
Under these political circumstances where the LDP reigns supreme so much so that they are occasionally described as de facto one-party rule, we would like to share the importance of the current constitution with as many of you as possible and, in the next election, become well-informed of constitutionalism and of the three fundamental principles in the current constitution and realize a political climate which promises respect for the constitution to the people.
The Constitution of Japan is the fundamental, basic principle that determines the ways in which each individual living in Japan would be related to the nation-state equipped with enormous power and the apparatus of violence. But, there is a popular sentiment that the constitution is less relevant to each individual’s daily life than the civil law and the criminal law that have been enacted in accordance with this supreme law. However, just as clean air and water are indispensable for human health, so is the constitution necessary for each individual people to live in the world with a sense of relief and security and to have each of their human rights respected and valued substantially.
So, we are going to set up a Kyoto-based group where we could learn/explore with you―who are the residents of Japan like us―what is constitutionalism and (the Japanese) Constitution and exchange/share freely each of our thoughts on these subjects with you, whether an expert in law or a layperson.
While it is an ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto has been a city blessed with the rich natural environment and much industry, provided with many universities and colleges, encouraged people of various parts and countries of the world to come and get together. It is also a town where many non-Japanese people live as Kyoto-jin (residents of Kyoto).
We believe that not only Japanese people are entitled to the ownership of the current constitution of Japan. Instead, we believe that the current constitution is be shared with people in the international community of which it was born and is to be developed in cooperation with these non-Japanese people. In this sprit, let us invite you to a thought-sharing experience where all the people present, including you, could mutually talk about and exchange each of their thoughts on the constitution reflective of their wits as Kyoto-jin and consciousness opened to the international community and sensitive to the global issues in thinking about the constitution together.
the Presenter in Chief: Yayo Okano (professor at Doshisha University)
Presenters: Yasushi Akiyama (book editor/publisher), Chizuko Ueno (director of the Women’s Action Network), Hiroki Okazaki (associate professor at Kyoto Gakuen University), Hikaru Ogawa (professor at Kyoto Notre Dame University), Akihiko Kimijima (professor at Ritsumeikan University), Motoyuki Kurata (professor at Ritsumeikan University), Anne Gonon (professor at Doshisha University), Mana Shimaoka (professor at Osaka University), Takao Sumii (journalist), Toshiyuki Tanaka (professor at Hiroshima City University), Mayumi Taniguchi (associate professor at Osaka International University), Chung In-Kyung (caricaturist/political manga artist), Ichiro Tomiyama (professor at Doshisha University), Hiroshi Nakasatomi (associate professor at Tokushima University), Tamotsu Nakano (professor at Ryukoku University), Moriaki Hirohara (former president of Kyoto Prefectural University), Seigo Hirowatari (professor at Senshu University), Norma Field (former professor at the University of Chicago), Kazue Muta (professor at Osaka University), Ken Morotomi (lawyer), Sadao Morone (professor at Ryukoku University), Yoko Yoshida (lawyer), Noriko Wakao (professor at Bukkyo University), Chihara Watanabe (professor at Ritsumeikan University)