Saturday, January 22, 2005

Constitutional Amendment Plan

According to The Japan Times:

An independent think tank led by former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone on Thursday unveiled its draft for revising the Constitution.


The draft, issued by the Institute for International Policy Studies, redefined the Self-Defense Forces as the Defense Forces, and allowed them to use force when carrying out humanitarian aid and other activities to maintain international peace and security within the framework of the United Nations or international cooperation.


The use of force would be subject to either advance or ex post facto approval by the Diet, the draft says. It left Section 1 of Article 9, which renounces war as a sovereign right of the nation, and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes, untouched.

An NHK program on this topic last night, discussing not just this proposal but others for changing Article 9 and other parts of the constitution, took a poll in which the Japanese participants were evenly split: 39% think there is a need to change it, 39% think there is no need to change it.

I have no problem with Japan having a normal military. The Japanese were no more militant or imperialistic than the Germans, Soviets, or Chinese. I certainly trust the Japanese more than China or Russia, or for that matter, more than most of the other nations on the planet.

Of course, the evil, alternate-universe Guy In Black Pyjamas would mention that we should watch that ex post facto permission bit. The Japanese conquest of Manchuria in the 1930s was carried out by the Imperial Army first, then presented to the government as a fait accompli. This left the government in the position of denouncing an entire Japanese Army, or getting behind the invasion after the fact. The government sanctioned the Army's action, setting a precedent for the Army to make decisions instead of the civilian government.

To which the Guy In White Pajamas would reply that, certain historical events aside, it's essential to trust the commander on the ground, and so to make sure you train trustworthy commanders.

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