Japan Seeks to Amend Pacifist Constitution
Thursday October 6, 2005 2:01 PM
By HIROKO TABUCHI
Associated Press Writer
TOKYO (AP) - Japanese lawmakers on Thursday debated
how to amend Japan's pacifist constitution, a
troubling prospect for Asian neighbors wary of a
revival of Japanese militarism in the region.
Discussions at a special committee on constitutional
reform focused on legal procedures to revise Japan's
top law, which has not been amended since it was
drafted by U.S. occupation forces in 1947.
The debate comes after both Japan's ruling coalition
and top opposition party expressed their support for
amending Article 9 of the constitution, which bars the
use of military force in settling international
disputes. That would stoke fears of a resurgence of
Japanese militarism among Tokyo's neighbors.
The clause also prohibits maintaining a military for
warfare, though Japan possesses a self-defense force,
a contradiction that lawmakers have said must be
addressed by changing the clause to more clearly
acknowledge Japan's rights to self-defense.
Toru Nakayama, a lawmaker of the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party and chairman of the special
committee, said that while laying out procedures would
not immediately lead to making changes to the
constitution, discussion was needed to move forward.
Amendments to the constitution must be endorsed by a
two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament, as
well as by a majority of the population in a national
referendum. But the government has yet to enact
legislation outlining procedures for such a
The minority of committee members opposed to reform
said any moves to change the constitution would be
detrimental to Japan's foreign relations.
``The international community's trust in Japan would
be destroyed'' if Japan pushed ahead with
constitutional reform, Akira Kasai of the Japan
Communist Party said.
The debate follows a poll published Wednesday that
said 62 percent of Japanese oppose changing the
anti-war clause, saying it has contributed to keeping
the peace in postwar Japan, according to the Japanese
daily Mainichi Shimbun.
Eighty percent of the respondents said that Article 9
contributed to maintaining Japan's peace after World
The daily conducted face-to-face interviews with 2,418
voters nationwide from Sept. 2 through 4. No margin of
error was provided.