Hayao Miyazaki: Leave Constitution alone

by Jun Hongo

Staff Writer

Anime master Hayao Miyazaki blasted the government’s push to revise the Constitution, saying that politicians without any understanding of history “shouldn’t be messing” with the foundation of the country.

In a magazine published last week by his production company, Studio Ghibli, the award-winning director said he is “disgusted” by proposals to replace the Constitution, including war-renouncing Article 9.

“To take advantage of the low voter turnout and to change the Constitution without giving it serious thought is unacceptable,” Miyazaki wrote, apparently referring to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s win in Sunday’s Upper House poll. “I am clearly against it.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the LDP leader, has been pushing for amending the Constitution, ultimately hoping to defang the war-renouncing Article 9.

Miyazaki, considered one of the greatest anime filmmakers in the industry, was born in Tokyo in 1941, the year Japan launched a war against the U.S. with the attack on Pearl Harbor. His works include “Spirited Away,” which won the Golden Bear Prize at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival and the 2003 Oscar for best animated feature.

In the article, Miyazaki touches on his childhood memories of surviving the war and witnessing its aftermath. Upon learning what the Imperial Japanese Army had done in China, he wrote that he felt “hatred against Japan” and was ashamed to be born in a country that would do such horrendous acts.

While noting that Japan wasn’t the only country to invade China, Miyazaki said this hardly justified what it did to its neighbors. The government should apologize and pay compensation for its wartime crimes, including against the “comfort women,” and also propose a peaceful way to resolve territorial disputes with its neighbors, he said.

“I am taken aback by the lack of knowledge among government and political party leaders on historical facts,” he said.

Miyazaki, who often touches on pacifism and environmentalism in his movies, said that although he respected the Self-Defense Forces, there should be no talk of enhancing their role.

In addition to Miyazaki’s piece, the publication by Studio Ghibli included similar articles written by those close to the director, including Ghibli film producer Toshio Suzuki. Because bookstores have run short of the work, four articles from it have been made available online for free until Aug. 20.

Many requests have come in for a chance to read the articles “probably due to the high interest in the topic,” the publisher said on its website.

Conservatives have been quick to react to Miyazaki’s remarks. Postings on bulletin board sites criticize him for commenting on political matters. Others disagreed with Miyazaki and supported strengthening Japan’s military “because unlike the old days, threat of an invasion by neighboring countries is becoming real.”

Miyazaki’s latest film, “Kaze Tachinu” (“The Wind Rises”), which depicts prewar Japan through the eyes of the designer of the Zero fighter, opened in theaters Saturday. It debuted at the top of the weekend box office.

For more information, see the Ghibli website.

  • Stephen Kent

    I think it’s really refreshing and highly commendable when Miyazaki and other high profile people such as Haruki Murakami come out and state a clear position on important national and international issues as it helps balance the blinkered rhetoric you hear coming from politicians about Japan’s recent past. Hopefully people will pay more attention to Mr. Miyazaki than Messrs. Abe, Ishihara, and Hashimoto.

  • U Nyunt Shwe

    Here is my very big salute to Miyazaki sama. Don’t amend the peace and military sides of it, instead, Japan should genuinely lead for World Peace, not in word, but in word and spirit. We need a strong LEADERSHIP in this very important front!! Present day Japanese people deserves it!!!

  • http://www.sheldonthinks.com/ andrew Sheldon

    Miyazaki’s anti-intellectualism is not so different from the conservatives. Japan deserves them both, unless they are prepared to think about their political system. Clearly his understanding of history does not go back far enough.

  • Ron NJ

    “Conservatives have been quick to react to Miyazaki’s remarks. Postings
    on bulletin board sites criticize him for commenting on political
    matters. Others disagreed with Miyazaki and supported strengthening
    Japan’s military “because unlike the old days, threat of an invasion by
    neighboring countries is becoming real.””
    Indeed! How dare a citizen stand up and make a statement about the constitution of his country. He should keep his mouth shut and leave it to the politicians, right?

    And yes, unlike the olden days, instead of Japan invading other countries, it is Japan that may be invaded. Funny how things tend to come back around, huh?

    • https://www.icloud.com/photostream/#AH5n8hH4JHtYAg 龍誉紫暮

      “And yes, unlike the olden days, instead of Japan invading other countries, it is Japan that may be invaded. Funny how things tend to come back around, huh?”

      Just remember that .. How many countries has the US invaded over the past 70 years?? I bet you will be saying something total different then!

      Funny how most posters on here are from the USA and claim Japan is bad for starting a War but complete forget the number of wars since the end of WWII that the US has started and the million upon millions killed by the US’s military actions.

      • Ron NJ

        Ah yes, the inevitable “and you are lynching negroes” reply. Nothing like a good old-fashioned bit of logical fallacy to get ones point across, eh?
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_you_are_lynching_negroes
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_quoque

      • Guest

        so…you deny that america systematically raped, pillaged, and lynched black people for centuries? Not to mention hundreds of proxy wars in Latin America, overthrowing democratically elected leaders for hand-picked dictators who would go on to commit atrocities like Saddam and Gadalfi, yes, why point fingers? Why point fingers when America sponsored death troops in El Salvador who went around crushing babies’ skulls and killed thousands of people? Need I mention Iraq, Afghanistan, lol, the list goes on.

        There is no logical fallacy. There are only facts, some more shone brightly than others in history. But let’s not forget the ones in the shadows, shall we?

      • Ron NJ

        Since you apparently can’t be bothered to click a link, let me paste it for you:
        Tu quoque /tuːˈkwoʊkwiː/,[1] (Latin for “you, too” or you, also”) or the appeal to hypocrisy, is a logical fallacy that attempts to discredit the opponent’s position by asserting the opponent’s failure to act consistently in accordance with that position; it attempts to show that a criticism or objection applies equally to the person making it. This dismisses someone’s point of view based on criticism of the person’s inconsistency, and not the position presented,[2] whereas a person’s inconsistency should not discredit their position. Thus, it is a form of the ad hominem argument.[3]
        To clarify, although the person being attacked might indeed be acting inconsistently or hypocritically, this does not invalidate their argument.

        And that, my friend, is why nothing you posted matters.

      • Guest

        Ummm Lynching Negroes?? … not my problem, I am an Australian!

      • https://www.icloud.com/photostream/#AH5n8hH4JHtYAg 龍誉紫暮

        I have just read though most of your posts, you seem to enjoy attacking Japan and Japanese for what happen during WWII, but are always upset when people point out to you that the USA are still doing the same thing as Japan did 70 years ago in 2013.

        Bit of a Hypocrite are we? If you are so racist towards Japan and Japanese then please feel free to take a hike and post only on non-Japanese sites, trust me you will not be missed!

  • Osaka48

    Article:

    Miyazaki blasted the government’s push to revise the Constitution, saying that politicians without any understanding of history “shouldn’t be messing” with the foundation of the country.

    ——————————————————————-
    This is quite a “stretch” and not credible as the “foundation of the country” is still based on what Gen. MacArthur’s staff wanted it to be. Japan and the Japanese government during the time of occupation had no say in the Constitutional provisions whatsoever.

    What part of a “rubber stamped” Constitution, written by a foreign occupying Army is not understandable to Miyazaki?

    Can anyone deny that the great nation of Japan has “grown up” and shown itself to be an honorable, democratic, great contributor to the international community? Good grief, it’s about time to have a “Japanese” Constitution based on current Japanese sovereignty — national defense requirements.

    • pervertt

      It is not a stretch to say that the current constitution is a foundational basis for post-war Japan. There is a lot more to the constitution than Article 9. It establishes the right of ordinary Japanese to choose their government. It entrenches the rule of law and the separation of powers. It removes privilege and allows all Japanese to be treated on an equal footing. It allows freedom of speech and assembly. What’s not to like about these universal values and principles? i doubt that Japan could have developed into the nation it is today without the operation of these constitutional principles. The drafting process may have been one sided, but the result could have done a lot worse if Japan had surrendered to a less magnanimous foe.

      As for Japan growing up, let me say this. The people of post-war Japan have made many achievements that would do any country proud. The country has successfully adopted democracy even though it previously had no democratic tradition. It has made a gigantic leap in its standard of living and donated generously to international aid. The best and brightest of its talented citizens, like Mr Miyazaki, shine brightly on the international stage. The value of these achievements however are demeaned each time high ranking politicians open their mouths and deny the existence of comfort women or the reality of war atrocities. The same politicians now want to cherry pick aspects of the Japanese constitution. The brush of international opinion unfortunately is a very broad one, it can tar (as well as embellish) an entire nation based on the actions of a few.

    • Mark Garrett

      I suggest you research the drafting process and adoption of the current Constitution of Japan. While it’s true that General MacArthur stepped in and had his own team draft the document, he had good reason to do it and it was not without Japanese approval.

      “Can anyone deny that the great nation of Japan has “grown up” and shown itself to be an honorable, democratic, great contributor to the international community?”

      I think one could easily play devil’s advocate to some of those suppositions. I think one could also say that, if true, those achievements may be directly associated with the path that MacArthur put Japan on. In fact, one of the earliest revisions was to end women’s suffrage.

      Anyone that believes that the LDP want to rewrite the constitution to afford Japan better defence against intrusion is either ignorant or naive. What it’s really about is building a military industrial complex. I wonder how long after it’s rewritten before a 2nd amendment is added?

  • Osaka48

    As an aside, I see that this A6M5 “Zero” is apparently on loan from the Chino, CA., “Planes of Fame” museum. The tail number gives it away (61-120).

    The Japan Times should give more background of this historic and unique aircraft! So I will:

    This is the only, and last remaining example of a “Zero” fighter with its original Nakajima Sakae 31 engine in working order. I had the privilege of seeing this aircraft fly several years ago…hearing the engine start up…smelling the exhaust…imagining an earlier era.

    Completed in May 1943, Zero No 61-120 was the 2,357th aircraft of its type to come off the Nakajima production line and was first assigned to the Japanese Naval Air Corps on the home island of Honshu. In a few months, it moved to Iwo Jima, then in March 1944, was reassigned to Asilito Airfield on Saipan.

    On June 18, 1944, U.S. Marines captured Asilito Airfield with a number of intact Zero fighters. A dozen of these intact Zeros were shipped to NAS North Island, San Diego, California, USA for evaluation. Four Zeros were restored to flight, two went to the Army Air Force and two were retained by the Navy.

    The Museum’s Zero No 61-120 was ferried to NAS Patuxent
    River, Maryland on August 23, 1944 and subsequently flown by about 25 different USN, USMC, Royal Navy and civilian fighter and test pilots, including Charles A. Lindbergh. The aircraft was ferried back to San Diego on January 11, 1945, where frontline combat pilots were also given a chance to check out the Zero. Altogether, Zero No 61-120 logged over 190hr of flight time in the USA before being declared surplus after the war.

    • 思德

      A very interesting history on a very important machine in WWII, thank you.

  • pervertt

    Japan has prospered under a pacifist constitution and from its defence arrangements with the United States. It has allowed a shattered country to recover from the ashes of war, without the inordinate spending on the military that neighbouring countries have undertaken. It has allowed Japan to substantially recover its international reputation that was trashed by the military government in WW2. Older Japanese like Mr Miyazaki know better about the misery that war can bring. They have every right to be be fearful of a return of nationalist sentiment, fanned by right wing politicians who see Article 9 of the constitution as an obstacle rather a national asset.

  • https://www.icloud.com/photostream/#AH5n8hH4JHtYAg 龍誉紫暮

    Sorry but I think Act 9 needs to go and someone making Anime should keep out of politics and stick to cartoons.

    If China attacks Japan Miyazaki will be one of the first complaining that the government did nothing to protect Japan from invasion.

  • 思德

    I really appreciate Miyazaki and his works, as well as his outspoken political stances. However, I lost some respect for him when I learned that he boycotted America over the Iraq War. While I realize that America’s behavior of late has been quite loathsome (I say this as a formerly hawkish American), it does the cause of peace no good to punish a country by denying it the presence of one of its champions.

  • Pat Chambers

    As proud Japan once took the initiative in militarism, perhaps consideration should be awarded to the ideas that Miyazaki forwards; unfortunately, Chinese hegemony, alike to their other efforts in copying, is proving the urge to conquer is a universally human aspiration. An American preacher on the cruiser USS New Orleans during the battle of Tassafaronga (Lunga Point) strait urged ” Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition”. Japan has little choice but to utilize a similar strategy in the face of growing Asian and Russian militarism.

  • Ken

    Make no mistake. The goal of the ability to strike enemies first is to drag the US and S. Korea into a war they don’t want. Japan has always looked after their interests first, such as when they secretly sent a minister to visit N. Korea. If Japan were to attack N. Korea, they would shatter both Koreas for decades, preventing S. Korea from eclipsing them, they would saddle China with 3M refugees at the border, and they would commit the US to a land war in N. Korea flat footed, Japan would be bombed but not nuked at this point, and would come out on top out of a horrible situation.

  • John T

    Wow a remorse full one and not denying the horrible crimes committed. Wow hell has frozen over

  • Danny

    Peace is what everyone should strive for, but we should also look at the current events.

    Japan’s Abe Adminstration main push for the revising of the Article 9 is to better equip itself to protect it’s people, it’s territories and it’s rights. The constitution was in place back in 1947 and has yet been revised since. With the changing of the times, Japan will need to change as well in order to stay alive.

    With it’s aggressor like China and DPRK building it military year after year, why doesn’t Japan need to increase it’s Self-Defense Forces abilities and capabilities to counter such threats.

    Si vis pacem, para bellum. “If you want peace, prepare for war” (usually interpreted as meaning peace through strength—a strong society being less likely to be attacked by enemies).

    we should not let the bullies have their way, but instead stand up to them and become strong ourselves.

  • Moreno Cocchietto

    I respect greatly Miyazaki-sensei and the after-WWII
    Japanese pacifism. In these last 68 years, Japan was one the most
    pacifist and helpful Country of the Globe. Japanese people has always
    been among the first to help victims of disasters of natural or human
    origin all over the World. But, the geopolitical situation is not static
    as the mind of some persons are. Day after day, China is more and more assertive and aggressive with neighboring
    Countries. They proclaimed, boldly, as “own” the entire South China Sea.
    They proclaimed as own the Senkaku Islands. They violate airspace and
    the sea of Japan constantly. They destroyed and burned hundreds of
    Japanese restaurants, stores, factories as well as goods with Japanese
    brands in September 2012, defaming Japanese flag and Nation.
    Now, what must Japan do? They must rely on the “protection” of the U.S.?
    The term “protection”, in itself, is highly demeaning to an important
    and proud Nation like Japan. In my opinion, Japan can not rely on the
    “protection” of Uncle Sam. An Uncle Sam ever more and ever worse
    economically and financially interconnected with the aggressive Nation
    mentioned above. Japan will rely only on itself to cope with the
    arrogance of the huge neighbor. The post-war Japan has been an economic
    giant but a political dwarf. To all the powerful Nations that was fine.
    But the World is changing. And history teaches. History teaches not only
    that the war is bad (if you lose it of course, I might add) but you can
    not ignore the assertive, imperialist signals coming from neighboring
    Nations. Signals that in the past have been ignored and undervalued and
    that led to the Second World War. I support Abe, Abenomics and the
    revision of the Constitution. For too many decades, Japan, said with
    deep respect, was a kind of soulless industrious puppet. It’s time for
    Japan to ACTUALLY rise again from its ashes and regain its lost soul.
    Ganbarou Nippon!

  • Rachel Quinn

    “Because bookstores have run short of the work, four articles from it have been made available online for free until Aug. 20.”

    Link?