• Kyodo


A Nobel Peace Prize observer with a relatively unsuccessful betting record speculates that the Japanese people who uphold war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution are most likely to be chosen the winner of this year’s award, which is to be announced this week.

Kristian Berg Harpviken, director of Peace Research Institute Oslo, picks around five contenders each year. He has been right only once over the past decade, correctly guessing former U.S. Vice President Al Gore as the winner in 2007. Gore was jointly recognized for his climate change activism along with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Noting Article 9’s renunciation of war and its rejection of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes, Harpviken said Friday that “there are concerns that the reinterpretation of Article 9 in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government earlier this year is the precursor of armed confrontation.”

“We may have come to think of wars between states as virtually extinct after the end of the Cold War, but events in Ukraine and simmering tensions in East Asia remind us they may reappear, and a return to a principal often hailed in earlier periods of the peace prize would be well timed,” he said in a blog announcement.

Harpviken revised his shortlist Friday after previously selecting Pope Francis as the winner, just one week ahead of the prize announcement next Friday. Article 9 had not been among his previous picks.

As runner-up, Harpviken picked former CIA contractor Edward Snowden, the 31-year-old American whose disclosure that the U.S. government is collecting people’s private data on a massive scale awakened the public to the reality and extent of state surveillance.

His three other favorites are Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper that has been a vocal critic of the Kremlin, Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist working for victims of sexual violence, and teenage Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai.

A campaign to highlight Article 9 in the Nobel Peace Prize selection process was initiated by Naomi Takasu, a homemaker in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture.

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