Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Spirit of a Constitution

The Diet (Parliament) of Japan has begun the process of enacting new laws to empower the Self Defense Forces to, put very simply, act in anger if provoked. The country is clearly divided in its opinion as to whether this is desirable or even constitutional. Lets put the latter to rest first, here is Article 9 of the Japanese constitution:

Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. 

To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. 

Interestingly there is an English translation available from the Cabinet Office. The interesting point being that the Constitution was actually written in English and as such a 'translation' is something of a misdirection. So, to be straightforward, there is a significant question mark as to whether the new laws comply with either the spirit or the letter of the document that has held Japan together for the last seven decades. And this is the point being made by the protest movement. 

But, without entering into this debate, there is the odd fact of the current state of the Japanese armed forces. They are remarkably modern and remarkably well equipped. Perhaps it's about time this debate is aired in public. For or against. Japan, let's have the discussion. That's what constitutions are all about. Nicely outlined in Article 21 if you were wondering.

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