The 23-minute ceremony aboard the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945, was the most significant event in Japan's recent history, and the most painful. The ceremony established the surrender of the Empire of Japan and marked the end of World War II.
After the horrific experience of the war, and to create the legal basis for the country's future peaceful development, a new Constitution was enacted — the peace Constitution. Its defining characteristic is the renunciation of the right to wage war, contained in Article 9, and a provision for de jure popular sovereignty in conjunction with the monarchy.
Article 9 states that the "Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes." To achieve this, the article provides that "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained." The extent of Article 9 has been debated since its enactment, particularly after the establishment of the Self-Defense Forces, a de facto military force, in 1954.