2007: Asia Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution - Keynote

DOI Takako

DOI Takako

Former Moderator of Lower House / House of Representatives; former Chief of Social Democratic Party in Japan

"Es sieht aus, als wären wir Ohnmächtigen schwach; wir sind aber stark...."

Im Wortlauf (English) als pdf-Datei (kommt noch),

Keynote Speech

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is DOI Takako. Thank you for your introduction. I am extremely grateful for the invitation to speak today at the Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 and Peace in Asia. We have just been given the chance to meet the delegates from each Country. All of us have been deeply moved by the presentation by Lim Dong-Won, a former Unification Minister of South Korea. I myself am feeling nostalgic after seeing one old friend after another again after many years, making me very happy to have been given the opportunity to attend today. Please allow me to begin by taking this opportunity to say a few words of thanks from the podium for the hard work of all those involved in the preparations for such an important opportunity as this, before proceeding to the main content of my speech.

I have had the honor of being asked to be one of the first speakers at this oppor¬tunity to consider Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan together with all of you, a role I have had the audacity to accept. It is a great honor. Once I start talking, I have the bad habit of forgetting about time. Today, I have prepared a written speech in the hope that I will not cause that sort of trouble. This is a popular method these days, so I hope you will forgive me for joining this trend and reading a prepared talk.

May I begin by addressing postwar Japan and the role of the Constitution of Japan. Now, in 2007, it has been 60 years since the Constitution came into effect. As you know, Japan had a different constitution before the war. That was the Constitution of the Empire of Japan. That Constitution came into effect in 1889, and Japan was under its authority for the following 56 or 57 years until its role, and existence, came to an end with Japan's defeat. I was born many years ago, and when I was still a young girl, until the age of 17, I was brought up under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan. Since then, I have lived under the Constitu¬tion of Japan until today. Even today, it seems there are some politicians who would like to return Japan to a direct continuation of the authority of the former Constitution should the opportunity arise. If we look closely at the expressions they often use, "history and tradition," we find that the present Constitution of Japan possesses a history and tradition that already transcend those of the former Constitution. The Japanese alive today who were born under the new Constitution far outnumber those who experienced life under the previous Constitution of the Empire of Japan. More people who were born under the Constitution of Japan are Living in good health today. For this reason, I feel that even politicians who say they want to return to the old Constitution should fully respect the history and tradition of this new Constitution of Japan.

When we talk about the difference between the Constitution of the Empire of Japan and the Constitution of Japan ... I believe they are as different as heaven and earth. First, in the Constitution of the Empire of Japan, sovereignty did not reside in the people. The sovereign was the Tenno (Emperor), said to be of divine descent. The people were referred to as subjects, who existed only to obey and sup¬port the political authority of the Tenno. In particular, women were not treated as equals with men, and right to the very end had neither the right to vote nor the right to stand for election. The military was placed under the command of the Tenno, in a mechanism that did not permit its command by the government. Su¬preme command of the military, as set out in Article 11 of the Constitution of the Empire of Japan, was determined according to the authority of the Tenno. This was independent of regular affairs of state, and when put into effect took the form of a signature by the General Staff or the military command.

The young men of Japan were conscripted into this military by means of a single postcard. Within the military their human rights were set aside, and they were sent off to the series of wars launched to invade neighboring countries. Japan colonized Taiwan through the Sino-Japanese War, the Korean Peninsula through the Russo- Japanese War, and advanced into China by way of the former province of Manchuria, advancing on Heibei and finally entering into war with America. The nation caused a situation in which the death toll among Japanese alone exceeded three million, and several tens of millions of Chinese, Southeast Asians, and other Asians were killed. The Constitution of the Empire of Japan was a key factor in bringing about these circumstances.

Postwar Japan may be said to have taken its first steps out of a profound remorse for this situation. The populace, who had lost many of their family members, friends, and acquaintances, were determined never again to repeat such a war. The Consti¬tution of Japan, promulgated in 1946 and brought into effect in 1947, was an expression both of this determination and of a further hope.

I well know about that time. Those were days in which we had no clothes to wear, lacked food, had no house to live in, and had no idea how we were going to make a living again in the future. However, what was felt by people--for whom just living was the most important thing--was that they would never go to war again, that war was wrong under all circumstances. I think that for this reason many young people were extremely hopeful and energetic, because they had a tomorrow to look for¬ward to. Women in particular gained the rights to vote and to stand for office, and the women of the era in which the Constitution took shape were dynamic. I still remember today how strongly I felt that when I looked at my mother and grandmother.

The sovereignty of the people, respect for fundamental human rights, and paci¬fism are said to be the three pillars of the Constitution of Japan. There is no constitution of any nation that does not deal with the sovereignty of the people and human rights. These are laid out in every country's constitution, but the pacifism of the Constitution of Japan is clearly its most important distinguishing feature. As you are all well aware, this pacifism is set out in concrete terms as Article 9 of the Constitution. 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." This first paragraph of Article 9 extremely clearly stipulates the con¬crete renunciation of war. Furthermore, paragraph 2 begins "In order to accom¬plish the aim of the preceding paragraph...." This renunciation of war, the renun¬ciation of the use of force, does not recognize even the threat of military force. It states, "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."

Article 9 consists of these two paragraphs, but it has often been remarked that paragraph 1 is a codification of the content of the war-renouncing Kellogg-Briand Pact agreed in Paris in 1928, which was incorporated into the constitutions of a number of countries as a pledge to renounce war. When we examine other nations' constitutions, however, paragraph 1 in the Constitution of Japan is thoroughgoing and slightly different in terms of the renunciation of war. The difference lies in the fact that the Constitution of Japan clearly states outright that it renounces, and does not recognize, all forms of war. Today, for example, if we look at the constitutions of Spain, the Philippines, or Thailand, they raise the question of the renunciation of war, but state that they do not accept war as a form of sanction or invasion, for example, making them only partial renunciations. The fact, however, that provisions that had not existed at all prior to the Kellogg-Briand Pact began to appear in constitutions after the First World War and even more after the Second World War is something that I regard as an historical development.

Viewed from the Japanese perspective, paragraph 2 clearly states that to achieve the aims of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. This stipulates that war potential may not be maintained, and is a regulation stating that the country may not possess a military. This is extremely thoroughgoing pacifism.

However, when I am out campaigning for the Constitution, this is the point at which some impatient people raise their hands before I have finished and say "Ms. Doi, I have a question." "Yes? What is it?" "Doesn't Japan have a Self-Defense Force, and doesn't America have troops stationed in Japan under the US-Japan Security Treaty? In that case, isn't it strange that we're always being told Japan is rigorously implementing paragraph 2 of Article 9? What do you think about this?" they ask. I'm sure that in such a large assembly as this, at least some of you must be thinking the same sort of thing.

Certainly, there are 250,000 members of the land, sea, and air Self-Defense Forces in Japan today. They possess correspondingly powerful equipment. Japanese society has repeatedly debated the existence of this powerful entity during the past 60 years. The government explanation is that it is the result of interpreting the Constitution, an official answer that states, "As long as it is within the bounds of the minimum level for self-defense against an invasion, it does not correspond to the war potential proscribed by the Constitution." I am sure you are already well aware of this. Let us not enter into this debate today. It would take several hours just to explain the history of the post-war controversy. This is, however, an important issue, and I think we can at least say the following.

Pre-war Japan under the Constitution of the Japanese Empire was a military colonial empire. It caused great suffering and harm, both to its own people and to those of neighboring nations. Post-war Japan, in contrast, oriented itself toward peace and prosperity, restricting the size of its military as far as possible and not launching acts of aggression against other counties. During the intervening 60 years, not a single person has been killed by the Self-Defense Forces. Self-Defense Force members were dispatched to Iraq, a war zone, in 2004. In the Diet debate on their dispatch, then Prime Minister Koizumi emphasized that "The area to which the Self-Defense Forces will go is a non-combat area. They are not going to war." This was in answer to a question to the Prime Minister. The reason why such an explanation and interpretation was developed was that as you know, the Diet is currently in a state of great upheaval over the passage of the "Anti-Terrorism Spe¬cial Measures Law." But whatever special measures are being prescribed, whether to combat terrorism, send the Self-Defense Force to Iraq, or for any other purpose, as long as Article 9 of the Constitution exists then the Constitution itself does not permit the Self-Defense Forces to be sent overseas bearing arms even if such special measures are laid out. This is why it must be said to violate the Constitution. I am opposed to the Self-Defense Forces taking the sort of action that violates the Constitution. The composition of the Diet changed following the Upper House election, and the Special Measures Law was one of those laws that I knew from the beginning would be opposed if it were brought to the Diet, but even before this, and in future too, if we judge matters in terms of whether or not they are accept¬able from the perspective of the Constitution, and we decide that they are not permitted, I believe the correct response is to say a clear "No." Don't you think so?

On the whole, people who take the opposite view that the Constitution must be revised tend not to regard departing from, ignoring, or violating the existing Constitution as an issue in their response to real-life problems, and the fact that they say that revisions to the Constitution should be decided in situations that in no way comply with the actual Constitution can only be described as a topsy-turvy state of affairs. At least, this can be said of Prime Minister Koizumi's answers dur¬ing the debate - "No, don't worry, all the places to which the Self-Defense Forces will go are non-combat zones," and "They are not going to war." In that case, I don't understand why they need weapons, or why it became such a great debate. In the end, the Self-Defense Forces went to Iraq, where they were protected on the ground by British and Australian forces as they carried out their activities, as a non-military organization that did not engage in hostilities even once.

In this way, the government has already been asked to provide an explanation of the relationship between the activities of the Self-Defense Forces and the Constitution, and the fact that it has been necessary to spend so much time and energy considering whether or not this constitutes the use of military force as a sovereign right of the nation is in itself evidence that Article 9 of the Constitution is still effective. This is a debate on whether Article 9 of the Constitution applies. Recently, the opposition has become the main party in the Upper House, so that even if the Special Measures Laws are first put before the Upper House it is likely that they will be rejected, unlike the situation prior to the election. It has to be said that this is the result of an increase in the number of Upper House members who be¬lieve that matters that violate the Constitution must be revised in light of the Constitution, rather than that the Constitution itself must be revised. This is basically something to be desired, and means that the government must provide an answer when it is constantly asked to explain the relationship between the Constitution and the activities of the Self-Defense Forces. We have to spend time and energy considering whether or not such activities constitute the use of force as a sovereign right of the Japanese nation. I repeat, we can say that this is evidence that Article 9 of the Constitution is still effective. I believe it is true to say that the reason the governing Liberal Democratic Party wants more than anything else to revise the Constitution is that it wants to remove this restraint.

I said a moment ago that after losing the war, Japan got back on its feet and set out on the road to recovery on the basis of its remorse for the war. Looking back, however, I think it is undeniable that particularly during the early days, this remorse arose out of an emotional response to the way people had suffered as a result of the war. I was born and brought up in Kobe, which suffered air raids during March of the final year of the war. My own experience was one of having barely escaped with my life. I encountered scenes that were too terrible to look on directly and which left me wanting to cover my eyes, such as when a mother carrying a baby on her back took a direct hit from an incendiary shell and died right in front of me. Here and there I saw dead bodies burned completely black. I myself lost many of my friends. It was like being in hell. Humans were rendered inhuman. A vast number of people were robbed of their lives without ever living out their natural life spans, and the very first to become victims were innocent children, women, and civilians. This experience was the starting point for my later public opposition to war. War is impermissible, whatever the circumstances. It was with the conviction that to strive for this purpose means being involved in politics that I ran for election to the Diet. For this reason, during the 36 years of my activities in the Diet, I had a single, unchanging slogan: "Put the Constitution into practice, both in peoples' everyday lives and in politics."

As you are aware, around two million people died at a stroke as a result of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From the viewpoint of Japan as a whole, major damage was caused by air raids in many parts of the country. This was the first time since the start of the modern era that the Japanese people had experienced the tragedy of war. It was horrific. In other words, war had not come to Japanese soil since the Seinan war [of 1877]. Japan had been waging war on foreign territory, mainly the Korean Peninsula and China. Even during the Asia- Pacific War, the only times Japan had fought on its own soil were in Okinawa and Iwojima. Soldiers who had returned from the war hardly ever talked about what they themselves had done on the battlefield, or told the truth about victimization and invasion. A very few of those soldiers tried to witness to the truth about Japan's invasions after returning home, but the conservative government tried to cover up unfavorable matters as far as possible, and the overwhelming majority of Japanese did not even attempt to listen to them.

Another major factor in postwar Japan was that the country was drawn into the Cold War system, and was cut off from China and the north of the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. prioritized its handling of the Cold War, and stopped questioning Japan's actions during the war. As Japan had not only been cut off from its neigh¬boring victim nations but had also become a front-line nation in the Cold War alongside the south of the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan, it became impossible to question Japan's wartime responsibility. In other words, for 40 years Japan was able to run away from facing its own responsibility as a perpetrator. I believe this is the difference between the European nation of Germany and Japan. Germany had to face its own sins in order to be able to live within Europe. To put it in extreme terms, we may perhaps say that because Japan maintained its relationship with America, it experienced no problems at all in its economic, political, social, and diplomatic affairs. Japan during the Cold War underwent a period of rapid economic growth, both enjoying prosperity and assuring the freedom of speech and expression set out in the Constitution; it became a country with no fear of conscription and of equality between men and women, in which people could enjoy their individual lifestyles to the full.

It was during the late 1970s and the 1980s that Japanese society eventually became conscious of its own responsibility as a perpetrator and began to question itself again. This process started out with small citizens' movements, which of course included movements of religious people such as all of you gathered here today. Issues such as colonial rule and the status of Korean residents of Japan started to be raised within society as a result of movements such as opposition to the Viet¬nam War and solidarity with the pro-democracy movement in South Korea. These were linked with the activities of journalists and researchers, stirring controversy, and gradually became a trend that could no longer be ignored by society. This also began to change school education. It was during the Hosokawa Cabinet, a non-LDP cantly and that the relationship between North Korea and America will steadily shift, including the possibility of diplomatic normalization.

At the end of October former President Kim Dae-Jung visited Kyoto, where I attended his lecture. I remember him saying, "Next year, 2008, may be an epochal year for the situation on the Korean Peninsula." Should a peace treaty be concluded, that would mean that the Korean War would finally be at an end. It would bring to a conclusion the state of war that has continued for the half-century since the armistice agreement was signed in 1953. This movement is due to a policy switch by the Bush administration since the beginning of this year, steering away from forcible measures toward those based on dialog and generosity. I believe that what motivated this shift can only have been the efforts of South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun, who continued to promote the "Sunshine Policy" of the Kim Dae-Jung administration.

China has also played a major role in the nuclear crisis that started in 2002. China was the only nation able to create the six-party framework that enabled the North and America, which were unable to engage in direct dialog, to sit down at the same table; to accept the difficult role of chairing the talks; to send special envoys to the North when the talks stalled; and to encourage America to engage in dialog. In these actions, I sense a powerful determination for the tragedy of war never again to recur in East Asia. In fact, I have always thought that it should really have been Japan, which has Article 9 in its Constitution, that mediated dialog and created a framework to foster trust between the parties. I still think it would have been wonderful if Japan could have brought the experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the six-party talks where the nuclear issue is being discussed, for example. It seems that there is still a gap in consciousness between us Japanese, who actually suffered nuclear destruction, and other nations, concerning the true horror that stems from using nuclear weapons. And this gap appears to be large.

An atmosphere supportive of the dropping of the atomic bombs, which made the invading Japanese Empire surrender, can be sensed not only in America, but also in China, the Korean Peninsula, and Southeast Asian nations. Hiroshima and Nagasaki, however, constituted humanity's first ever nuclear war. When nuclear weapons are used, just how horrific are the results? They defy description. And this is something that must never, ever be repeated. Nuclear weapons and human¬ity cannot coexist. I believe this to be totally clear. It is my heartfelt desire for both North Korea and America to know even a little about this, and I hope they will then engage in talks on the basis of this knowledge. It was in this sense that I mentioned earlier that we are continuing to think about the issue of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; I believe that the proper way forward for the movement toward peace, putting into practice the perspective of the individual citizen, is a declaration of intent that nuclear war will never again occur either in East Asia nor any other part of the world, working toward the establishment of nuclear-free zones as a concrete movement.

Here I would like to say that the pacifism of the Constitution of Japan definitely does not imply that peace only needs to be achieved in our own nation. The Preamble includes the statement, "We recognize that all peoples of the world have the right to live in peace, free from fear and want." The peaceful coexistence prescribed in the Constitution of Japan is regarded as something universal that is to be secured for all the people of the world, not only Japan. Japan decided not to take aggressive action against the former Soviet Union so that foreign nations may live in peace, and in the same way it has no right to deprive North Korea of its right to peaceful coexistence. Whatever the country, that country's right to live in peace is recognized by human society based on universal principles. This is a fundamental principle, and it is clearly stated in the Preamble to the Constitution of Japan.

Until today, the idea of "protecting Article 9" has been condemned as "one-nation pacifism." I can only think that those people who say this can never have read the Preamble. Perhaps if they read it closely and reflected on its content, they might understand what it is saying.

In fact, if we really believe this, then the spirit of dialog and reconciliation is all the more important. I think this is the spirit of Article 9 of the Constitution. We must prove that standing and facing whatever difficulties may arise, and using wisdom to overcome these difficulties in the march toward peace, will bring peace and stability to the region. Just having this written in our Constitution is useless. Just saying that things are all right as long as Article 9 is in existence is useless, if we do not make any effort to put Article 9 into practice. Unless the intention of Article 9 is fully put into practice, it's no use. To knock down an opponent who is on the ropes is to turn one's back on Article 9.

Acting according to the content of Article 9 means tenaciously continuing the dialog with an opponent. President Kim Dae-Jung once told me, "Ms. Doi, dialog is important, but I understand that what is most important in dialog is endurance. We have been enduring for a long time." I think I really understand what he means. We must never forget that respecting dialog means resolving matters through tenacious discussion, however long that may take. My point is that in whatever circumstances, if war breaks out, that constitutes the end. I want to say that it is an ironclad rule that war may never be used as a means, however hard that may be.

I have already left the Diet, but when I was still a Diet member I was the leader of the Social Democratic Party. During that time I published a booklet entitled A Peace Framework for the 21st Century, for the purpose of embodying the matters I have discussed today. It proposes a framework for peace with its axis in Asia, and sets out how we can cooperate and work in partnership with each other under the present circumstances. One point was that under no circumstances will we make war in Asia. Accordingly, we will never make Asia a battlefield. I say that for this purpose we need to build a mutual framework for peace in the context of cooperative relationships.

The second point is a call to make Asia a nuclear-free zone. I don't have enough time left to go into details, but I have visited Korea and spoke with President Kim Dae-Jung on this issue. I have visited China and talked with President Jiang Zemin. I have visited Mongolia and held talks with Prime Minister Enkhbayar. All of these people who were kind enough to talk with me were the representatives of their nations, and these discussions had serious content. There are no nuclear-free zones in the northern hemisphere. I am calling for one to be created. There are already five major nuclear-free zones in the southern hemisphere. Maybe because so many countries possess nuclear weapons in the northern hemisphere, there has never been a nuclear-free zone in this half of the globe. In the southern hemisphere, five large treaty-based nuclear-free zones have already been established. The Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone already exists, but this is located in the southern hemisphere. We have started to work for the establishment of the northern hemisphere's first nuclear-free zone in Asia, beginning with the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone. The process of achieving this includes many extremely difficult problems. Countries that possess nuclear weapons depend on deterrence. Countries that do not possess nuclear weapons, however, cannot develop their argument in practice unless they acknowledge the premise that deterrence in itself endorses the existence of nuclear weapons. When I considered this question, I came to the conclusion that we must be proud of our standing as non-nuclear countries and take responsibility for gradually building up our prac¬tical efforts toward the future of humanity ourselves, one step at a time.

I proposed these two points as major pillars for cooperative efforts toward the creation of a peace framework for the twenty-first century. Within this there are still points that require further practical study and more in-depth or broader con¬tent. Nevertheless, I believe that the foundation of making the content of citizens' movements, movements that enable solidarity between the peoples of different countries, a practical reality, is contained in Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan. For this reason, we cannot dispense with Article 9. I regard putting this content into practice as in itself constituting the true meaning of Article 9. From the per¬spective of human society, rewriting Article 9 or losing it completely would be completely impermissible. The Constitution Campaigners (Kenpou angya no kai) are working hard on this issue, keeping this sentiment in mind as they continue their efforts.

When I talk about the Peace Framework for the 21st Century, many people tell me they have never heard of it before. It must be said that I am bad at publicity. Even if I ask people to publicize it, if those in the media fail to take it up it won't attract media coverage. These circumstances mean that we must also regard pub¬licity as a form of activism. With this in mind, I intend to expand my publicity activities on behalf of Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan widely, both at home and abroad. I hope I can continue my activism in spreading Article 9 of the Consti¬tution throughout Asia for as long as my health holds out.

May I end by expressing my heartfelt wish that all of you continue to enjoy good health and to achieve progress in your activities.

Thank you very much.


Ms. Doi was born in Kobe on November 30, 1928.
She is a graduate of Doshisha University, School of Graduate Studies with a Masters of Law degree.
Ms. Doi is a role model for many Japanese women politicians for being the first woman speaker of the House of Representatives and ruled for three years from 1993-1996. In 1986, she took up her post as chairperson of the Social Democratic Party. It was the first time that a woman got the post.
She was elected to the Diet as a member of the Japan Socialist Party (JSP) in 1969 from the 2nd district of Hyogo. She is a Japanese Constitution scholar and politician who has served in the Diet for 12 terms, and was its 68th President, 2nd Chairperson of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and 10th Chairperson of the Japan Socialist Party ( JSP). In 1986, she became the first female leader of a political party division in the history of constitutional government in Japan.
In the 1989 elections of the House of Representatives, the Socialist Party won more than double its former number of seats, leading to wider popularity. She is famous for her remark, "the mountain has moved". Her rise to power sparked what Japanese media termed as "Madonna boom" - a wave of women who aspired to enter politics and follow her example. A constitutional lawyer by profession, she continues to be the leader of her party continues to speak and lecture around Japan on the Constitution of Japan and its protection.