On July 2, the Cabinet approved a new interpretation of the Constitution that effectively broadens the range of situations in which the Self-Defense Forces are permitted to act militarily. Danny Gong asked interviewees in Osaka what they thought about this change.
Hideki Hatano, 44
Airline worker (Japanese)
This issue is very complicated, but here’s an example I’d like to share: If my house was being attacked, I can feel confident that my neighbor will come and help me, but if my neighbor’s house was to come under attack, isn’t it my responsibility to help him? I know the world is not as simple as this, but protecting yourself must come first; otherwise, you can’t help anyone else. Japan has big security problems and these have to addressed.
Hideki Mitsui, 39
Rental space and guesthouse owner (Japanese)
I think this change is bad. This Constitution has helped keep the peace in Japan since the end of the war. We’ve experienced how bad war can be. This talk about helping allies, isn’t it just a front? Isn’t war really just about money? Instead of spending money on war, we should be using it to improve people’s lives. There will be no positive outcomes from this new interpretation!
Karine Bonomo, 35
Youth leader (French)
It’s difficult to think rationally when we feed into our emotions, and into mistakes that happened in history. It’s a bit scary that the younger generation is advocating for more military strength. I’m not blaming them for feeling that way, because I understand their situation, but I don’t really think it’s their hearts that are talking; it’s propaganda from the news, what the politicians tell them, and this is dangerous for mankind because it becomes anger.
Kishor Khatishor, 30
Mountain trekking and tour guide (Nepalese)
I think it’s not good, because at the end of the day, people are going to die. This is not a peaceful action. The only appropriate reason to change (the reading of) the Constitution would be to make it more (conducive to) peace. It seems America wants to be able to be the mastermind behind Japan, using and controlling it.
Andrew Chan, 29
Product development engineer (Australian)
China and Japan have big issues over the (Senkaku) islands and America does not want to get involved. The U.S. has vowed to defend Japan if it is attacked, but China and the U.S. are deeply linked economically. It’s not clear what the U.S. would do if China attacked Japan. I’m not sure it was a good idea to change the (reading of the) Constitution, because it’s not clear what role America plays in this situation.
Atsushi Shiwaku, 55
Bar owner (Japanese)
We want to help the U.S. in troubled times — it’s strange to not help out an ally who is defending our country. I mostly agree with this change. Of course, the worst thing would be if it led to Japan going through a world war again. The other problem is that Japan could become a target for terrorists if we provide help to the U.S. in its conflicts in the Mideast. It would be terrible if either of these things were to happen.
Kaori Odachi, 37
Office lady (Japanese)
When it was first explained to me, it seemed like there wasn’t much of a difference in the reinterpretation to the Constitution. It was done in an ambiguous way. However, on Twitter, I kept seeing lots of tweets from people saying they were against the change. Later, my friend clearly explained to me that the new change would mean Japan would not just be defending, but also be actively engaging in wars that America may be involved in. I am completely against the reinterpretation of the Constitution.
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