Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Japan's Nobel defenders of world peace

By Cai Hong (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-23 07:25

Many in Japan are waiting anxiously for Oct 10, the day the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner will be unveiled.

This is because on April 9, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that the Japanese people seeking to conserve Article 9 of Japan's Constitution had succeeded in registering themselves as contenders for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

This clause, which renounces Japan's right to go to war and use force to settle international disputes, makes the country's Constitution unique.

However, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet decided on July 1 to reinterpret the Constitution to enable the right to collective self-defense, putting Article 9 at risk.

In response, Hiroyuki Konishi, an Upper House member from Democratic Party of Japan, helped form a cross-party campaign within Japan's parliament to conserve Japan's pacifist Constitution.

The campaign sent a letter with the signatures of 50 or so lawmakers to the Norwegian Nobel Committee in May. And, as of early this month, more than 400,000 Japanese people had sent letters of support to the Nobel Committee in Oslo.

The 42-year-old bureaucrat-turned lawmaker says that the decision by Abe's Cabinet on July 1 is unconstitutional.

"Among all the constitutions in the world, the Japanese Constitution is the only one that specifically indicates the world's citizens' right to live in peace, also saying that the government can't take action to wage a war," Konishi said in July.

The preamble of the Constitution stipulates that Japan shall never be "visited with horrors of war through the action of government" and "sovereign power resides with the people".

The Abe Cabinet, however, decided to be a law unto itself. Debate about the collective self-defense was not done among Japanese people and within parliament.

The Upper House Chamber on the Constitution passed a resolution on June 13 in an attempt to hold back the Abe administration's attempts to reinterpret the country's Constitution.

Konishi negotiated with and won over reluctant members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the Upper House to make the resolution possible.

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