Japanese lawmakers say war-renouncing Constitution deserves Nobel Peace Prize

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

A group of lawmakers called Tuesday for the Nobel Committee to award Article 9 of the Constitution this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, saying it would greatly encourage Japanese people as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushes to expand Japan’s military capacity.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, five Diet members from the opposition camp said war-renouncing Article 9 is the ideal charter the whole world has been looking for and perfectly matches the aim of the Nobel Peace Prize: to establish peace.

“Among all of the constitutions in the world, the Japanese Constitution is the only one that specifically indicates the world’s citizens’ right to live in peace, also saying that the government can’t take action to wage a war,” said Hiroyuki Konishi, a Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker. “If Japanese people are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, it will be a great encouragement for Japanese citizens.”

Japanese people who have protected Article 9 are among the 278 nominees for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The winner of the 2014 prize will be announced Oct. 10.

A group of 60 Diet members, including Konishi, submitted a petition to the Nobel Committee in May asking it to reward Japanese citizens for maintaining the pacifist Constitution for nearly 70 years.

The idea to nominate Article 9 was initially started by Naomi Takasu, a 37-year-old mother of two from Kanagawa Prefecture who launched an online petition in May 2013.

After learning that the awarding of the peace prize is limited to people or groups, Takasu and a Kanagawa-based citizens’ group decided to nominate the Japanese people who have protected the pacifist Constitution.

The lawmakers also slammed the Abe Cabinet’s reinterpretation of the Constitution to lift the self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense, which means coming to the aid of a friendly nation that has come under armed attack, saying that the decision was nothing short of a “coup.”

Stressing that the move was made without the Japanese citizens’ consent or without any discussion in the Diet, they said that the reinterpretation of the Constitution is ineffective.

“The decision completely neglected the Japanese people who are the holders of the Constitution,” Konishi said.

Article 9, drafted during the Allied Occupation, stipulates that the Japanese people “forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes” and that “land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”