Lawyers to hold concert, sing praises of Article 9

by Sayo Sasaki

A group of some 30 lawyers will fight to preserve Article 9 of the Constitution by giving a choral performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, which is dedicated to world peace and happiness. The concert is an effort to draw attention to political moves to revise the article, which renounces war.

With support from renowned musicians, including conductor Yuzo Toyama, composer Shinichiro Ikebe and cellist Masaharu Kanda, as well as the lawyers’ families and legal clerks, the lawyers will sing on Sept. 26 in Tokyo, after five months of weekly rehearsals.

“At first I thought we could not make it happen . . . but we wanted to hold an event that everyone can participate in,” said Akio Taba, 35, a lawyer who heads the event’s organizing committee.

The idea for the concert came about after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party drew up a draft for a new constitution for Japan last October that would authorize the creation of military forces for self-defense by revising the second clause of Article 9, which prohibits Japan from possessing land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential.

The Self-Defense Forces, although equipped and trained like a conventional military, are not considered “military forces” under current constitutional interpretation.

Concerned about these developments, about 10 lawyers gathered in January to discuss how to raise the alarm and generate public debate on the constitutional revision. They decided to hold the concert, and the choir grew to about 200 members.

“The idea is to hold an event that can attract ordinary people, who may just be interested in classical music, to convey our message,” said Taba, a bass in the “No. 9 Choir,” said.

He said the politicians’ ongoing debate on revision seems “unprofessional” from the viewpoint of legal experts.

Another lawyer, Yogo Kimura, 63, shared that view, saying the Constitution imposes restrictions on state power by stipulating what it should and should not do, “but politicians today seem to have forgotten that idea.”

The 1,800 tickets for the Sept. 26 concert at Bunkyo Civic Hall in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, have already sold out.

“It was unexpected. It has made us realize that events (dealing with) Article 9 are attractive,” Tabe said.

“I can understand that politicians have the urge to free themselves from restrictions and do whatever they want, but I want to say ‘I won’t let you do that,’ by singing Symphony No. 9, the theme of which is people living in harmony.”