2014: ein Bericht zu Art.9 aus dem Kyodan

Vereinigte Kirche Christi in Japan (Kyodan) zu Artikel 9 der Jap. Verfassung
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Protect Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution - A Precious Treasure for Building Peace

The Core of Article 9:    renunciation of war, refusal to maintain any kind of war potential, and denial of the right of belligerency

In the present Japanese political environment, there is a growing movement to revise the Constitution and, in response, many denominations within the Christian community have been organizing groups and holding meetings all over the country to gain a better grasp of the situation in which we find ourselves. We would like to introduce some expressions of opposition to the proposed amendments, including some from other churches and denominations.

The Constitution is the rulebook that must be honored by the state and those who work on its behalf. While it stresses the importance of the democratic process, the Constitution is also designed to apply the brakes to a state or government that is running out of control.

What is necessary to amend the present Constitution? Article 96 makes clear that a two-thirds majority in both the House of Councilors and the House of Representatives is needed for the government to make a proposal to amend. There must then be a national referendum on the proposed amendment, and the approval of at least half of those voting is necessary for the amendment to be enacted. The Liberal Democratic Party is making a proposal to change Article 96 so that a simple majority in both Houses would be adequate for a national referendum to take place.

The Liberal Democratic Party's draft of a revised Constitution would bring damaging changes to both Article 9 (the peace article) and also to Article 97, which deals with respect for basic human rights. If more than two-thirds of the Diet members should come to agree to these revisions, we would find ourselves in a very critical situation.

Response of the Kyodan's Districts

According to research undertaken by the editorial committee of the church magazine Shinto no Tomo (Believers' Friend), of the 17 districts of the Kyodan, six have issued statements or passed resolutions concerning the proposed revisions to the Constitution at their annual assemblies, which were held between April and June in 2013. We want to introduce the content of those resolutions and statements. However, we also wish to make clear that the lack of a statement or resolution is not necessarily an indication of a lack of interest in the proposed changes to the Constitution. For example, there was discussion about the Constitution at the Nishi Chugoku District assembly, but a more pressing issue at the time, opposition to the deployment of Osprey planes at military bases in the district, required a resolution.

Hokkai District passed a resolution calling for "Approval of Action to Prevent Undesirable Changes to the Japanese Constitution." In solidarity with individuals and groups both within the church and beyond, the resolution calls for action to maintain Japan's Peace Constitution and to stand in the way of any undesirable changes to it. It calls for people to deepen their understanding of the problems and dangers of the proposed revisions and to heed the call of the Prince of Peace in approving action to hinder the adoption of undesirable changes. Criticism was also made of the Abe government and its desire to change Article 96 in an attempt to facilitate revision. As a reason of the criticism, the resolution states that "the reason why it has been made difficult to revise the Constitution is so that the universal values enshrined in it may be maintained." In fact, the draft prepared by the Liberal Democratic party makes clear that it is actually hoping to delete the article that guarantees basic human rights

Ou District approved a statement opposing the proposed revisions and urges people to be aware of the dangers involved in revising the Constitution. For people in Ou District, maintaining Article 9 is not unrelated to the desire to bring an end to nuclear energy. As a district touched by the March 11, 2011 disaster, many people continue to suffer and face difficulties due to the earthquake and tsunami as well as contamination due to radioactivity. While remembering those people in prayer, this statement was approved in the search for a peace in which the renunciation of war expressed in Article 9 and the desire for people to be free of nuclear energy and continuing contamination are linked together. The statement says, "As Christian people of faith and conscience who believe in the Lord of Peace, Jesus Christ, as our Savior, we are called to protect Article 9 ," and it also reminds people of the importance of Article 20, which guarantees freedom of religion and separation of church and state and forbids the state to engage in any specific religious action, such as forced worship at a specific shrine.

Kanto District also approved a statement calling for opposition to "amendments" to the Constitution. The statement expresses opposition to the shift from sovereignty of the people to sovereignty of the State. It states the view that the core of the proposed "revisions" is nothing less than a threat to the Peace Constitution's renunciation of war, the guarantee of basic human rights and freedom of religion. The statement calls for unrelenting opposition to the revision of Article 96, which seeks to make it easier to change the Constitution as a whole. The statement portrays the painful history of a country that made the emperor a god and drew the Christian church into its web in order to make it cooperate with the war effort. It calls for repentance before the Lord and asks that, as Christians, we make our opposition to the proposed undesirable changes clear to all.

Osaka District passed a resolution calling for "opposition to the proposed change to Article 96 and to undesirable changes to the Constitution" as a whole. The resolution states that if Article 96 were to be amended, Article 9 would undergo major changes. The draft prepared by the Liberal Democratic Party already speaks of a standing army, which is in complete opposition to pacifism and also allows for involvement in combat. There is also a danger that the guarantee of basic human rights may be threatened.

Higashi Chugoku District approved a statement calling for "the protection of human rights, the sovereignty of the people, the principles of peace laid out in Japan's Constitution and opposition to any attempt to "amend" Article 96." Quoting Matthew 26:52, "Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword," the statement recognizes the Constitution itself as the best protection against the arbitrary use of government authority and calls for unrelenting opposition to any detrimental changes to its content.

Okinawa District likewise approved a statement "concerning undesirable changes to the Constitution." In World War II, Okinawa was the only place where a land battle was fought, and many lives were cruelly sacrificed. Even now, Okinawa is burdened with the presence of military bases. The statement refers to the fact that the people of Okinawa have been limited in their ability to express their opinions regarding the Constitution freely and states clearly, "We seek the renunciation of war, the removal of all military bases, an end to all forms of discrimination, protection of the environment, a peaceful life for our residents, and a decentralization of government authority to give more autonomy to local regions in Japan."

The proposed "amendments" will make Japan a country that engages in war and a country where only the strong may survive. We express our opposition to any "amendments" (negative changes) to the present Constitution.

Response of Other Churches and Denominations

The Roman Catholic Church. On June 23, 2013 (a day of remembrance for those who died in the Battle of Okinawa), the Japan Catholic Council of Bishops introduced an informal message in the name of Bishop Okada Takeo, which was shared during a special time for thinking about peace (Aug. 6-15). The message says, "We are in a very dangerous situation. We believe Article 9 is a treasure the whole world can be proud of and that it proclaims the teachings of Jesus Christ concerning love." The message was introduced on June 23 and draws attention to the fact that the people of Okinawa call this day "the day of humiliation," referring to the fact that an unfair accord was signed between Japan and the United States that even now reminds us that Japan's sovereignty is not yet fully restored, something that we must never forget.

The Mennonite Church. On May 3, Constitution Day, concerned persons within the Mennonite Church issued a statement calling for peace and the preservation of the present Constitution. The statement was issued to all Mennonite churches in Japan and to their brothers and sisters in Christ in all churches saying, "Let us protect Japan's Constitution. Let us make peace a reality." This is not a time for the "peace" churches to be silent. The statement further states: "Our integrity as Anabaptists and Mennonites, as members of a church in which many were martyred for their opposition to war, is being questioned." It calls on people to maintain Article 9, "being strengthened by Christ, to speak out saying Japan must not build a path to war again and that war itself is the greatest sin." It is a rare opportunity for this group to cross denominational lines and call out to other denominations so that "being guided by the Holy Spirit, we may all work together to be called children of God". (Tr. RW)

Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko
From Shinto no Tomo (Believers' Friend). August 2013 issue.




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