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Monday, October 26, 2009

Salon on Peace Constitution

Thank you again for another fulfilling and engaging salon, attended by 15 people.

We watched John Junkerman's 2005 Film "Japan's Peace Constitution."

We talked about a variety of issue during discussion. Among the thoughts shared -

  • It is understandable that the change of Article 9 could be a threat to fellow Asian nations. We should not change Article 9. I wonder why we cannot say to the international community, like UN, that we have this constitution that does not allow us to dispatch SDF overseas, instead of succumbing to the pressure from the U.S.
  • Being new in Vancouver, I was touched by the kindness of my Chinese friends. Some of my Japanese friends, however, have prejudice against Chinese people, and it is disappointing. Think about what Japan did in China during the war. Think about how Chinese people lovingly raised Japanese orphans left in Manchuria. Peace education in Japan is biased in the way that there is too much emphasis in portraying Japan as a victim of war.
  • I read this interesting article in which it is argued that Article 9 is an experiment on limited sovereignty of the state. The international efforts like the United Nations and its Charter is in a way limitation on state sovereignty as well.
  • Related to above, I think Article 9 also limits Japan's ability to engage in international peace efforts that put limit on state sovereignty. We should change Article 9 in a way that Japan can actively participate in international peace keeping operations, only with the sanction of the United Nations.
  • Japan's new Prime Minsiter Yukio Hatoyama proposed this "East Asian Community" concept during the ASEAN + 3 Conference. I think Article 9 should be kept in order to achieve this Community, so Japan is never a military threat to other nations.
  • Article 9 being an apology for fellow Asian nations - is it really? Do people in China and Korea know about Article 9?
  • Article 9 is ironically known in Asia because of the Japanese government's pressure to change it.
  • It is a good idea for Japan to shift their foreign policy orientation from the US to UN, but UN structure and governance have many flaws. Its Security Council consists of only the victors of the past war, and the veto gives too much power and control to the permanent members of the Security Council.
  • It is dangerous to change Article 9 while Japan is still so heavily reliant on its alliance with the US. Without Article 9, there would be no limit on the obligation to engage in military acts with US.
  • It is true that Article 9 debate is not a domestic one; it is an international issue.
  • I heard that Kenji Isezaki, who represented UN to help areas of conflict with disarmament and peace negotiations, was able to gain trust in those areas because he came from the country with Articled 9, a war-renunciation clause in its Constitution.
  • In Japan, we don't get to learn much about what Japan did to other countries, especially fellow Asians, during the war. There is a lot for education to do.

There were many more interesting points raised, which I will allow the other participants to comment on if they like.

Segueing from the last point about the lack of education in Japan about its acts during the war, we will introduce Celine Rumalean's 2002 film "Yesterday Is Now" in our next salon. Mark Saturday November 14. I will post more information later.

Love and peace,

Satoko

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