The Guardian 14 February, 2007

Communists defend "peace constitution"

Dan Margolis

The Japanese Communist Party will keep the defence of Japanís "peace constitution" one of its central tasks as it gears up for Aprilís elections to the Diet, the nationís parliament. Current≠ly, the constitution states in Article 9, that "aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war".

It says that in order to accomplish this aim, "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 recognised."

The current Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, and his predecessor Junichiro Koizumi, both of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), have been pushing to revise the constitution in order to make Japanís Self Defence Forces (SDF) into an army with offensive capabilities.

The Japanese Communist Party (JCP), along with Japanís peace movement and neighbouring states, says that Article 9 must be maintained.

"Although the Japanese military was established in violation of the constitution", JCP Chair Shii Kazuo said in a January 16 television interview, "the Japanese military has killed no foreigners since the end of the war".

Shii continued, "This is unique among countries participating in the G8 Summit. This is not because the Liberal Democratic Party is peaceful, but because Article 9 has displayed its value in protecting the peace."

The prime minister has been pressing for a bill authorising a national referendum that would make it easier to amend the constitution.

"It is important to thoroughly reveal in discussions that the enactment of this bill is inseparable from the revision of Article 9", Shii said. His remarks came in a January 25 meeting of JCP Diet members.

Already, the ruling right-wing LDP has been pushing the boundaries of Article 9, most recently when Koizumi sent 5,500 military personnel to aid the US occupation and invasion of Iraq. While the troops purportedly did not engage in military combat, the JCP, the Article 9 Defence Association, the peace movement and others have condemned this move.

The Japanese peace forces argue that the US is pushing the LDP government to move towards turning Japan into a "normal country," that is, a nation with war-making capabilities, in order to serve as an outpost for US policy in a region that is growing increasingly unfriendly towards US imperialism.

Akahata, the JCPís newspaper, said, "The Bush administration is dispatching another 20,000 troops to Iraq. US forcesí inhumane and indiscriminate attacks will inevitably intensify. Ö Japan must end the dispatch of SDF to Iraq in subordination to the US, and immediately pull them out of the country."

A January 14 Akahata editorial said a proposal to put the SDF in closer cooperation with NATO "will only help strengthen the global strategy of the Bush administration, which is increasingly isolated from the rest of the world."

In the January 18 interview, Shii, echoing the US peace movementís call for "books not bombs," said, "Although Japanís military budget is large in absolute terms, it has been relatively small in comparison with the [GDP] due to Article 9. This has prompted the government to use funds for economic development."

"As a matter of fact," Shii continued, "Article 9 has sustained post-war Japan."

The Akahata editorial called for Japan to work within the United Nations Charter, saying that "trying to strengthen military alliances that require a hypothetical enemy will hamper the effort to achieve a world without war. The world current is drastically moving away from military alliances into an era of communities of nations for peace."

In the April elections, the JCP would like to top its highest-yet vote, the just-under 9 million won in 1998.

Peopleís Weekly World

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