Sixty years ago, the government and the people celebrated May 3 as the day the current Constitution went into force. In a departure from the Meiji Constitution, which stipulated that the nation “shall be reigned over and governed” by the emperor, the postwar Constitution “proclaims that sovereign power resides with the people.” It also “renounces war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”
The Constitution was born out of Japan’s bitter war experience, which cost the lives of millions of Japanese and other peoples, mostly Asians. It is of great importance to recognize how much the Constitution has contributed to bringing peace and prosperity to postwar Japan, and to consider how the country can contribute to enhancing world peace on the basis of the Constitution’s no-war principle. People should not be swayed by a propaganda-like argument that the Constitution is out of date.
The war-renouncing Article 9, which restricts Japan’s military activities, has helped Japan gain trust in the postwar world. The image that Japan does not use force to resolve disputes is a great asset in the international community. This must not be lost.
The 60th anniversary of the Constitution arrives at a time when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to make constitutional revision an agenda in the coming Upper House election. His catchphrase is a “departure from the postwar regime.” He should elaborate so that people can pass informed judgment on his basic idea of what a future Japan should be like.
There are worrisome trends in Japanese society — a revisionist view of history as exemplified by Mr. Abe’s attempt to play down the Japanese military’s responsibility for wartime sex slavery, violence against politicians and a move toward regimented thought, as exemplified by the revision of the Fundamental Law of Education, etc. It is imperative for both younger and older generations to learn lessons from Japan’s history, especially the events that took place in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.
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