Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Pacifist Constitution of Japan

The promulgation of the 1945 Japanese Constitution was among the consequences of the defeat of Japanese forces in the war in the Pacific against the United States, as the US-directed and imposed constitution effectively destroyed prior rights and powers of the state of Japan, including the absolute rights of the Japanese emperor as the head of state and government, and the power of the state to create and strengthen its armed forces against external and internal threats. To an extent, the Japanese Constitution adopted a Western-style government in which sovereignty resides in the Japanese people and not the Emperor, repudiating a centuries-old political relationship that held the Emperor as the one that exercised sovereign powers. These new roles were essential in dismantling Japan’s militarist past and prevent it from initiating subsequent wars of aggression against more Asian nations. Definitely, all these roles do not correspond to the traditional Japanese past where the Emperor was the absolute ruler and revered as a demigod by the Japanese people, notwithstanding his absolute leadership of the Japanese Imperial Army.

While the world has indeed benefited from this forced arrangement, curbing the right and power of the state to build an armed forces for its protection exposes the Japanese people to unwarranted attacks from within and without, especially at a time of global terrorism, as the Constitution itself disallows the right of belligerency of the Japanese state – a right universally recognized by the community of nations and international law. In the hysteria of the international community on military research by rogue states, any attempt by the Japanese government to simply improve its military capability would always be construed as reverting to its militarist past, to the prejudice of fully safeguarding the state against attacks by international terrorists.

In all of these, while the new roles given to the Emperor and the military indeed rectified grave historical mistakes of Japan, especially in demystifying the Imperial Household from its demigod status, an incapacitated Japanese armed forces will never be in the interest of its people and even the international community.

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