2013: Mennoniten verteidigen "Friedensverfassung"
Die Kirchen der Mennoniten in Japan
Mennonite World Review (May 2013)
Japanese Anabaptist pastors defend 'peace Constitution'
By Kelli Yoder, Mennonite World Review
Japanese Anabaptists’ peace stance is being tested as the government considers amending its constitutional article prohibiting war.
In response, a group of 14 Japanese Anabaptists has submitted a letter to Protestant periodicals calling Japanese Christians to defend the “peace Constitution.”
The group includes leaders from each of the country’s five Anabaptist conferences.
Ken Shenk of Findlay, Ohio, who spent many years among Mennonites in Japan with Mennonite Board of Missions, translated the letter into English.
“Mennonite churches in Japan started soon after World War II and have never been tested for [their] pacifism,” Shenk said. “Japan has not waged war since then.”
He said the postwar years were a time of soul searching for many Christians there.
“Japanese Christians in general, and Mennonites in particular, don’t want to repeat history, and thus feel responsible to raise the alarm if they see their country backsliding into accepting war as a legitimate act,” Shenk said.
The letter began by affirming the country’s war prohibition: “It is with pride that we say ‘Our nation does not fight wars,’ ‘In our nation we do not go to war as soldiers,’ and ‘Our nation seeks peace forever.’ ”
It went on to note the recent transition of power to Prime Minister Shino Abe, whose Liberal Democratic Party proposed a revised Constitution in April 2012.
“It would make the emperor the head of state, set up a national defense force, and permit the right of collective self-defense to be exercised,” the letter states. “Without a doubt, the intent is to change for the worse the entire Constitution of Japan, starting with (the war-renouncing) Article 9.”
In May, Japan’s Diet began debating the Constitution revision proposal. The Upper House is expected to vote on it in July.
According to Shenk, the government has also released statements downplaying Japan’s aggression during World War II.
“So, along with historical reasons, this statement is a call to preserve the ‘peace Constitution’ as a vehicle for good relations with neighboring countries,” he said.
The letter states: “It is time to stand up by the power of our Lord Jesus and say, ‘War is the greatest of sins,’ and ‘We must not open up any path that would cause our country to engage in war again.’”
Shenk said the facilitators are appealing to Mennonites worldwide.
“I think the group would like Mennonites outside Japan to be reassured that Mennonites in Japan are publicly pledging their allegiance to the Lord of Peace as faithful Anabaptists/Mennonites,” he said.
The signers represent Japan’s five Anabaptist conferences: Japan Mennonite Christian Church Conference, Tokyo Area Fellowship of Mennonite Churches, Japan Mennonite Brethren Conference, Japan Brethren in Christ Church and Japan Mennonite Christian Church Conference.