At long last, deliberations on the Constitution have started at both Houses of the Diet. It is not clear, however, what kind of conclusion will be reached and when. Indications are that the participants in those deliberations want to draw up a conclusion by 2003 at the latest. But this is by no means clear.
Every political party is supposed to have its views on the Constitution. Among members of the Social Democratic Party, the Communist Party and the Democratic Party are those who would like to “talk about the Constitution.” This would be achieved by simply stating their opinions. Many of those people oppose any amendment to the Constitution, their ulterior motive being merely to prolong the debate. Such being the case, they need not take part in parliamentary discussions on the subject.
I, for one, believe that the existing Constitution, forced upon the Japanese government by the U.S. Occupation forces, is filled with deficiencies and errors, and, therefore, must be amended. I have held this view for more than half a century, since Feb. 13, 1946.
At that time, Germany was also forced to accept a constitution by the nations occupying it. Yet, German politicians inserted one provision that said the constitution would become invalid upon termination of the occupation. This shows the coolness and stubbornness of the German people, which must have angered the occupation forces.
In stark contrast, when the Constitution was forced upon Japan on Feb. 23, 1946, politicians here, unlike their German counterparts, failed to insert an important clause that it would become invalid when the Occupation ended. Indeed, those politicians were not intelligent enough to think of such a provision. They were too busy providing food, shelter and clothing to the people, and were unable to turn their attention to the type of constitution the nation should have after regaining independence. That was a gross mistake.
In the deliberations on the Constitution, it is important to set aside the differences in ideologies and political affiliations, and to identify and amend those provisions that are not based on facts, that defy international common sense, that are no longer suited to Japan as a result of changed circumstances or that are not correctly worded.
Here are provisions in the Constitution over which I have some doubt.
First, the Constitution was promulgated after deliberations by the House of Representatives and the House of Peers. While the members of the Lower House were elected by eligible voters, those of the Upper House were appointed by the government without elections. The preamble of the Constitution gives the impression, however, that it was drafted by the elected members of the Diet, which is not factually correct.
This is because Gen. Douglas MacArthur, supreme commander of the allied forces, wanted to drive home to Britain, Australia, the Soviet Union and other members of the Far Eastern Commission that the Constitution was not forced on Japan by the Occupation forces, but was the product of the will of the Japanese people. This was his effort to pacify countries, such as Australia and the Soviet Union, that insisted on putting the Emperor on trial as a war criminal.
In another part of the preamble, there is a passage that is not appropriate for an independent nation, namely: “We have determined to preserve our security and existence, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world.” This means that Japan would trust and rely on the good will of its neighbors regardless of what they are and who they are. How can such a ridiculous thought be maintained in the international circumstances that surround us today? It is absurd to rely on the good will of China, a nuclear power with hydrogen bombs, and North Korea, which is suspected of developing its own nuclear weapons.
The preamble itself, which calls for Japan to rely on the good will of its neighbors, stemmed from the goal of the United States and its allies to make Japan powerless. Is it it not incumbent on Japan, as an independent nation, to either amend or eliminate this provision?
There are countless other issues that must be taken into consideration.
In the autumn of 1960, if I remember correctly, the Constitution Research Council submitted its report to then Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda, listing both the pros and cons of amending the Constitution. That document is stored in the government’s archives, covered with dust. The members of the present council would learn much by reading this report.
Finally, I would point to a piece of history that may sound like a joke. Former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi was an ardent proponent of amending the Constitution, and strongly believed in strengthening Japan’s defense capabilities. When he met with U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington, the latter said Japan should strengthen its defense forces. Kishi countered by saying that the Constitution forced upon Japan by the U.S. was hindering his efforts toward that end. Eisenhower was surprised, and said to the effect: “Is your country still abiding by that ridiculous Constitution?” I heard this story from Kishi himself.
Fifty-five years after the end of the war, what are our politicians going to do with the Constitution?
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