Main Issues [Topic 2 Renunciation of War] | Birth of the Constitution of Japan

Main issues

Topic 2 Renunciation of War

1 Potsdam Declaration's Principle of Demilitarization and GHQ's Role

The Atlantic Charter, announced on August 14, 1941, described such guiding principles as the establishment of democratic governments and the demilitarization of aggressor nations to restore world peace after the end of the Second World War. Then four years later, the Potsdam Declaration, which Japan accepted on August 14, 1945, clearly described measures that stipulated the democratization and demilitarization of Japan. The latter required that Japan's militaristic leaders be removed from power, its ability to make war be dismantled, its military be disarmed, and all military industries be prohibited. In hand with these measures, the US Government's "U.S. Initial Post-Surrender Policy for Japan,"The comment of [U.S. Initial Post-Surrender Policy for Japan] instructed MacArthur, as the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers occupying Japan, to implement substantial measures to disarm Japan among other goals, the same as the Potsdam Declaration. We can see in Reform of the Japanese Governmental System (SWNCC 228)The comment of [Reform of the Japanese Governmental System (SWNCC 228)], which was sent to MacArthur for his information, that the US Government assumed that a military would exist in that it considered it necessary to reform the constitution so as to assure that "the civil [be] supreme over the military branch of the government."

2 Arguments for Changing the Meiji Constitution's Military Provisions and the "Gist of the Revision of the Constitution"

After the end of the war, the demilitarization of the Japanese armed forces was carried out with extreme speed. On October 16, 1945, MacArthur announced in a statement that "Today the Japanese Armed Forces throughout Japan completed their demobilization and ceased to exist as such." The dismantling of the Japanese armed forces, the fact that there no longer existed any armed forces, greatly influenced the arguments for changing the Meiji Constitution's military provisions. That is, it affected the investigations of Toshio Irie, who had started work on the constitution revision problem in secret within the Bureau of Legislation ("The Termination of the War and the Constitution"The comment of [The Termination of the War and the Constitution]). In the Constitutional Problems Investigation Committee, which was formed in late October, there was aggressive debate between (1) advocates for the complete elimination of the military provisions in the Meiji Constitution in order to be the "world's first nonmilitary peaceful country" in line with the dismantling of the military, and, (2) those who assumed the establishment of the "minimum necessary defense force" in the future and supported the strengthening of the legislative powers that would control the military, retaining necessary military provisions ("Minutes of the 9th investigative meeting"The comment of [Minutes of the 9th investigative meeting]). Finally, the ideas advocated in item (2) were used in "Gist of the Revision of the Constitution,"The comment of [Gist of the Revision of the Constitution] which was presented to GHQ on February 8, 1946.

These arguments held within the government had a considerable effect on the interpretation of Article 9 after the Constitution was enacted.

3 Drafting the GHQ Draft and the Writing and Publication of the Japanese Government Draft

The origins of Article 9 in the Japanese Constitution can be found in the second of the three basic points in "MacArthur Notes"The comment of [MacArthur Notes] February 3, 1946. This point states in part that "Japan renounces [war] as an instrumentality for settling its disputes and even for preserving its own security." However this principle was considered unacceptable as it constitutionally denied even the right of self-defense which international law admitted , and it was removed from the "GHQ Draft"The comment of [GHQ Draft] (submitted February 13, 1946). "GHQ Draft Proposal"The comment of [GHQ Draft Proposal] and GHQ Original Draft The comment of [GHQ Original Draft] shows that the present Article 9 was at first written in the Preamble and then was taken out to become Article 1. This reflected the intentions of MacArthur, who hoped to draw the world's attention to the principle of pacifism. However, in the GHQ Draft that followed, the Chapter on the "Emperor" was moved to the top as a sign of respect, and this Article was inserted as Article 8 ("Meeting of Whitney with Matsumoto The comment of [Meeting of Whitney with Matsumoto] February 22, 1946).

The Japanese Government, based on the GHQ Draft, drafted "March 2 Draft,"The comment of [March 2 Draft] then after negotiations with GHQ made the first announcement to the people as the"Outline of a Draft for a Revised Constitution"The comment of [Outline of a Draft for a Revised Constitution] on March 6. On April 17, the government published the "Draft for a Revised Constitution"The comment of [Draft for a Revised Constitution] which was formatted with articles. In this draft, Article 9 was stated as follows:

War, as a sovereign right of the nation, and the threat or use of force, is forever renounced as a means of settling disputes with other nations.

The maintenance of land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be authorized. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

The Bureau of Legislation produced hypothetical dialogues in parallel for the deliberations in the Privy Council and the Imperial Diet. In these dialogues, Article 9 renounced any kind of war regardless of whether it was an act of aggression or defense. However, it was noted that some form of "emergency necessity" based on the right of self-defense or actions that would be considered "justifiable self defense" could not be denied. ("Supposed Dialogues and Itemized Explanations Related to the Draft for a Revised Constitution"The comment of [Supposed Dialogues and Itemized Explanations Related to the Draft for a Revised Constitution] ).

4 Deliberations in the Privy Council and Amendments Made in the Imperial Diet

In the Privy Council's deliberations, problems surrounding defense actions based on the right of self-defense were discussed. Regarding these deliberations, the government (Minister of State Matsumoto) argued that "self defense itself is not prohibited by the constitution ("Records of the Privy Council Committee"The comment of [Records of the Privy Council Committee]).

In the Imperial Diet, first the House of Representatives added the clause "Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right" to the first paragraph of Article 9 because it was determined that, Japan's renunciation of war, as written in the government proposal "Bill for Revision of Imperial Constitution"The comment of [Bill for Revision of Imperial Constitution] seemed to have been done reluctantly. They also rewrote the beginning of the second paragraph to state, "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. ("Bill for Revision of Imperial Constitution" Revised and Passed by the House of RepresentativesThe comment of [Bill for Revision of Imperial Constitution" Revised and Passed by the House of Representatives] ).

Specifically, note should be made of the inclusion at the beginning of the second paragraph of the clause "In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph" (which became known as the "Ashida Amendment" because the proposal for the amendment bore the name of Hitoshi Ashida, the chairman of the committee in which it was discussed). The addition of this clause made the FEC and GHQ assume that Japan would be able to maintain a defense force ("Transcript of the 27th meeting of FEC"The comment of [Transcript of the 27th meeting of FEC]). As a result of the FEC requesting that "all cabinet ministers should be civilians," GHQ so directed the Japanese Government, which then included the Civilians' Clause in Article 66 during Deliberations in the House of PeersThe comment of [Deliberations in the House of Peers]. Even after the inclusion of the Ashida Amendment, "In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph," the Japanese Government did not interpret it as an exceptional change. This was because, while the first paragraph denied aggressive acts of war, it did not deny acts of war in self defense. But the second paragraph, by effectively prohibiting Japan from maintaining armed forces and the right of belligerency, ultimately would make it impossible to carry out a war of self defense.

In 1950, immediately after the outbreak of the war in Korea, Japan established the National Police Reserve. In 1952, it was reorganized as the National Safety Force and then the Coastal Safety Force was established. Then, in 1954, the Self Defense Forces were founded. Its "force" grew as it went from a "police force" to "defense forces" and this caused some serious opposition in how to interpret Article 9 of the Constitution. Following the end of the cold war in the 1990s, Japan became involved in a fluctuating situation in which problems surrounding Article 9, such as its interpretation and its application, became a serious issue that continues to dog the government even to this day.

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