Distinguished writers, scholars and other academics in Japan have joined forces to challenge the government’s move to reinterpret the country’s Constitution. A group aiming to gather one thousand members, calling themselves the “1,000-member committee to prevent Japan from entering war,” declared its purpose while at a news conference in Chiyoda Ward in Tokyo.
Following World War II, Japan’s Constitution limits its use of armed forces to self-defense under the restrictions set in Article 9. However, recent actions by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are directed at revising and reinterpreting the restriction to defending defending allies under attack. Constitutional scholar and professor emeritus at Tokyo University, Yasuhiro Okudaira, who is also a founding member of the committee, said “We have to stop the move to allow the Cabinet to undermine Article 9 simply by reinterpreting the Constitution.” Writer Makoto Sataka also reminded, “If the right to collective self-defense is granted, Japan would cross the line of ‘self-defense’ and also defend other countries, obliging Japan to engage in a war led by the United States.” Another founding member and writer, Keiko Ochiai, said, “While Japan should contribute to world peace, it is becoming a country that can export arms and enter war.”
Others already believe Japan is headed towards war with the government’s recent actions. Constitutional law professor at the University of the Ryukus in Okinawa, Tetsumi Takara noted, “For the Okinawan people who have experienced war, it looks as if war is imminent.” Currently, 83 people have already signed the group’s appeal, including writer Jiro Akagawa, songwriter Reiko Yukawa and actor Bunta Sugawara. The group hopes to attract more people to their cause to fill the 1,000-member list.