Civic groups, trade unions and professional guilds have issued statements opposing the government’s reinterpretation of the pacifist Constitution to allow the exercise of the right to collective self-defense.
Among them were the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and all the 52 local bar associations across the country. Also adding their voices were film directors and screenwriters with the group Eigajin Kyujo no Kai, led by animated film director Isao Takahata, and the Japan Federation of Newspaper Workers Unions, known as Shimbun Roren.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations, made up of all the country’s local bar associations, has since March 2013 issued five statements opposing the reinterpretation of the Constitution.
In a statement issued in May, the federation criticized the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for reinterpreting basic principles of the national charter without consideration for the opinions of voters.
The Constitution’s Article 9 states: “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”
It continues: “In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”
Earlier governments recognized Japan’s right to collective self-defense but took the stance it could not be exercised under the pacifist Constitution.
In May, the Okinawa Bar Association, a group of lawyers in the prefecture that hosts many U.S. bases, issued a statement saying the government could not itself decide to reinterpret the pacifist Constitution.
The Japan Federation of Newspaper Workers Unions said in its statement that the reinterpretation of the Constitution leads to the denial of constitutionalism and possibly a de facto coup.
The group of film directors and screenwriters issued an appeal urging the government not to make Japan a country that engages in war like the Japan of the past.
A group of atomic bomb survivors in Nagasaki Prefecture also issued a statement urging the government not to reinterpret the Constitution.