Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party seem determined to revise the Constitution soon. Japan seems very polarized concerning this issue, with the right strongly supporting it and most other Japanese opposed, because they do not want any revision to the "Peace Constitution," especially sacred Article 9. This article was put in the Constitution by the U.S. Occupation in 1947 and literally says Japan may not engage in war or have a standing military. Even with its quarter-million strong Self-Defense Forces, the Constitution has limited Japan's military strictly to only its own defense and to other missions in noncombat roles.

I am not a rightist—I abhor the right's denial of the Imperial Army's atrocities in the Pacific War and also believe Japan should not support unconditionally every military action by the United States. I also believe that if every country in the world had a constitution that limited its military to only self-defense, the world might be a better place. Yet I think even non-rightist Japanese might consider supporting some constitutional revisions. I argue this because the gap between the wording of the Constitution and the way it has come to be interpreted and implemented without revision or adequate judicial review is unhealthy for Japan's democracy, and actually aids the administration of the moment in doing what it wants. Let me explain.

Through the years the interpretation of Article 9 has changed, first by the Occupation and later by Japanese governments (and supported by the Supreme Court), whose interpretation was that it was meant to outlaw "aggressive war" and military, but that Japan was entitled, like all nations, to the "inherent right of self-defense."