Declaration Opposing the Security-Related Acts, and Seeking to Regain Constitutionalism and Democracy
On March 29, 2016, the Law Partially Amending the Japan Self-Defense Forces Act and Other Laws, to Contribute to Ensuring the Peace and Security of Japan and the International Community (generally known as the “Peace and Security Reform Act”), and the Law Concerning the Cooperative Support Activities for Other Countries Conducted by Japan on the Occasion of Joint Activities to Deal with Matters Affecting International Peace, and Other Matters (generally known as the “International Peace and Security Support Act”) (hereinafter, collectively referred to as the “Security-Related Acts”) came into effect.
Under the Security-Related Acts, exercising the right to collective self-defense, which had been recognized by successive cabinets as not being constitutionally permissible, has now been allowed in the event of Japan’s survival being at stake. Moreover, the expansion of rear-guard support has been allowed to the extent that Japan may practically take part in the military actions conducted by foreign military forces if the situation foresees a major impact, or requires such joint work for the maintenance of international peace. Furthermore, new assignments such as emergency rescue and guarding missions have been allowed to be assigned to and performed by the Self-Defense Forces (the “SDF”) that are engaged in peacekeeping operations, along with the authorization to use weapons in order to fulfill such missions. In addition, the authorization to use weapons has been given to SDF personnel for the purpose of protecting military assets such as warships and aircraft that belong to foreign forces, including US forces.
Granting new authorization, such as the right to collective self-defense and the expansion of rear-guard support under the Security-Related Acts practically suggests that military actions could be performed outside of Japan, or, that there is a high risk of the same occurring. This is a clear violation of the permanent pacifism doctrine stipulated in the Preamble and Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan. It also stands in the face of the principle of constitutionalism since a practical amendment of the Constitution is essentially being made through cabinet decision and the enactment of laws without going through the required processes for amending the Constitution.
During the deliberations in the 189th session of the Diet, as the grounds for granting the exercise of the right to collective self-defense, the present government pointed out the previous government’s view submitted on October 14, 1972 to the House of Councilors Budget Committee, and the Supreme Court decision issued in the Sunagawa case on December 16, 1959. However, neither of these references was sufficient to serve as an underlying rationale. The case of the blockade with mining of the Strait of Hormuz, which the government explained as the only possible case of exercising the right to collective self-defense in a foreign territory, also turned out not to be sufficient as a legislative fact at the last stage of deliberation in the House of Councilors. Thus, all of the explanations provided by the government in attempting to give grounds for exercising the right to collective self-defense were found to be unpersuasive. An opinion survey conducted by the media also showed that the majority of the public expressed their opposition to the enactment during the then-current Diet session.
Despite the above, following the forcible passage of the bill at the plenary session of the House of Representatives on July 16, 2015, the bill was forcefully approved on September 17, 2015 at the Special Committee of the House of Councilors on the Legislation for Peace and Security of Japan and the International Community. The forcible passage of such unconstitutional legislation without sufficient explanation at the Diet, the place at which free speech and debate should be the most respected, has left a major stain on our history as a constitutional and democratic state.
Due to the coming into force of the Security-Related Acts on March 29, 2016, Japan has now entered into the stage where it is quite capable of using armed force under the name of the right to collective self-defense and doing so abroad, including the supply of ammunition for the US or other allied military forces as rear-guard support or the usage of weapons not only for self-preservation but also to protect the arms of PKOs and/or such allied military forces. At present, Japan is on the edge of losing its principles of constitutionalism and democracy and our status as a pacifist state is now changing.
Given this situation, it is imperative that we not just hold back and see how things turn out.
In the course of the enactment of the Security-Related Acts, we witnessed numerous young people, mothers, scholars, and people from various circles and groups throughout society participate in political activities by voluntarily and proactively raising their voices, attending assemblies, and engaging in other activities. This is the true nature of democracy. We believe that reflecting such people’s voices into national politics will be of great assistance in regaining and strengthening the principles of constitutionalism and democracy in our nation. Now that the Security-Related Acts have come into force, legal professionals, including bar associations, have an important role, and the judiciary must also assume great responsibility, in order to protect human rights and regain such vital principles of constitutionalism and democracy.
The JFBA adopted a declaration, at the annual general assembly on May 29, 2015, that it was with deep regret that, before World War II, we, the JFBA, were unable to continue opposing the start and expansion of the war and that we would continue our opposition to the Security-Related Acts and exert our best efforts toward defending constitutionalism and democracy in our nation. Reflecting on the accomplishments of our activities so far, we have become more assured of the significant meaning of constitutionalism and permanent pacifism. We hereby reiterate our commitment to work towards regaining constitutionalism and democracy together with citizens throughout Japan through continued activities opposing the application and execution of the Security-Related Acts and calling for their abolition and amendment.
May 27, 2016
Japan Federation of Bar Associations