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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #217: May 21, 2004

Japan passes contingency bills

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

"Japan passes contingency bills"


Now that the turmoil over the missing contributions by the lawmakers to the state pension system is over, politics are back in Japan. The hassle over the pension issue seems to have settled completely upon changing the faces of the leader of the major opposition party and the longest serving chief cabinet secretary, and now politicians are back to the business of adopting laws.

As the article introduced above indicates, a group of seven bills passed the lower house on May 20 to complement the "Laws Regarding Response to Armed Attacks" enacted last year. The act was for the first time for Japan to stipulate its stance and possible reactions when attacked by other countries, and the functions to be fulfilled by the government and, to a certain extent, the people.

It is interesting to note that the package of bills was supported not only by the ruling coalition of the LDP and the Komeito, but also the leading opposition, the DPJ, headed by the just appointed leader, Mr Okada. It is indicative in the sense that there are very few, if any, in Japan who fear the new legislation would be detrimental to the people, or, more specifically, it would lead Japan into military conflicts in the form of war. In fact, many consider the set of laws to finally define what needs be done to protect Japanese people, and what must not be done to get involved in war in the sense denounced in the Constitution, the notion of which the overwhelming majority of Japanese people currently adhere to.

The Constitution, in its Chapter II comprised of just one short article, the Article 9, stipulates as follows:

"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 means of settling international disputes.
In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."

For decades, Japanese people had thought that the stipulation as such in the Constitution would suffice, in reflecting their sentiment, to guide the policy of the nation. There were, from time to time, extremists who point out that Japan could do nothing even when other countries attack, as it is not allowed to use "force as means of settling" disputes with foreign countries.

The September 11, 2001 attack by the terrorists in the US was perhaps the most direct cause for Japanese people to recognize the reality, that they have no modus operandi to cope with in case of massive terrorist, or foreign military attack. There was a joke that if Tokyo were to be attacked by alien combat forces, and in response SDF military vehicles, including tanks, were dispatched into the city, they must obey traffic lights and parking regulations, or else they would be issued traffic tickets by the police.

The series of legislation, a part of which passed yesterday, is an attempt to remedy such an absurd situation. And also to further confirm and secure in real terms Japanese people's antipathy toward war.

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