We, the members and conveners of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict in South-East Asia (GPPAC-SEA), support the global, regional and local calls for Japan’s current government to halt its efforts at amending and reinterpreting its 1947 Peace Constitution, particularly Article 9, which deals with Japan’s security and defense. In attempting to expand Japan’s peacekeeping and mutual defense role in the region by reinterpreting Article 9, the Japanese government now hews dangerously close to discarding the peace-compass Japan has steered by over the last six decades.
As peace advocates and supporters, we have learned to value Japan’s example in its post-war emergence as a regional and global power, achieved not with arms and force but primarily through diplomacy, statesmanship and partnership. We believe that in opening itself to an active military option, Japan is taking a severe step backwards, diminishing Japan’s ascendancy as a peace-driven and peace-loving global leader and example.
With the emerging alignments and saber-rattling that the region continues to deal with, we do realize that the Japanese government may now feel pressured by key actors and allied states to drop its pacifist stance, and step into the role of actively policing threats to itself and its allies. Yet history has also shown numerous nations have long trod such a path and suffered its pitfalls, all the more making Article 9 a necessary and timely option for nations to consider with regards to global diplomacy, avoiding conflict and building peace. Thus it is also with utter sadness that we view Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s recent support of Japan’s leaders decision to flex its military might even if it purports to contain the hegemonic tendencies of another regional giant.
We note with hope that at the start of this decade, more than 103 nations have already recognized and incorporated the value for peace in their own respective principles and constitutions, a number of which have clearly followed Japan’s lead. The call for non-nuclear proliferation, the ban on arms trading, eschewing belligerency as state policy and maintaining the purely defensive nature of its security forces are but some tenets championed by Japan’s constitution and Article 9 specifically. Article 9 has indeed been a beacon to all peace and freedom loving peoples in the world. It would indeed be a grave loss to the world if Japan’s leadership in such a brave, new and more peace-driven world is sacrificed.
We encourage all like-minded advocates to take on our shared stand. We have seen the possibilities and potentials wrought through peace as a national policy. Japan and Article 9 has helped serve well as both an example and guiding light, leading away from a policy of conflict and war and instead championing peace. Such a policy and principle deserves our unwavering support. Stop the reinterpretation and dilution of Article 9, let us all instead support and popularize the principles it has long stood for.
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