A 92 year old former kamikaze pilot who fought during World War II is angered at the Liberal Democratic Party’s plans to amend Article 96 of the Constitution, which in turn will make it possible to revise Article 9 which prohibits Japan from committing any act of war. He says that the constitution will become meaningless if they allow that to happen.
Tadamasa Iwai, now a resident of Kodaira in Tokyo, was just a student at Keio University when he was drafted in 1943, the son of a major general in the Japanese Imperial Army. He volunteered for the famous kamikaze, or the suicide attack, unit. He said, “If I was to die anyway, I thought I wanted to die in a beautiful way.” He was trained to become a “special attack weapon”, with training methods like “Kaiten” (human torpedo) and “Fukuryu” (a soldier attacks an enemy vessel with a mine stick) an everyday part of his life. He said that in wartime Japan, they were all disposable and the state can use and discard personnel whenever they liked.
After the war, he re-enrolled at Keio University and debated with other students about whether Japan should remain an Imperial system or whether people should be sovereign over the government. Through his discussions with students who had different points of view, he realized that in order for Japan to not repeat the mistakes of its recent past, the Constitution, through the power of the citizenry, should limit the power of the state. That is why he’s afraid now that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s move to revise the Constitution will re-strengthen the government’s power. And people’s knowledge about why and for whom the Constitution was created seems to be waning. He believes that if Article 96 does get amended, and it paves the way for Article 9 to be revised as well, it will be a “silly thing”. He is not alone in his anger. Opposition to any move to change the Constitution has been strong and constant.
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