President’s Statement Marking Seventy Years Since the End of World War II
Our country caused significant damage to a number of countries, especially in the Asian region, through our colonial rule, aggression and World War II. In addition, the lives of more than three million Japanese people were sacrificed during such War.
The preparation for and implementation of World War II was conducted at a time when democracy in Japan was insufficiently functioning, under circumstances in which human rights were only guaranteed under reserved laws and in which there were various means which were being exercised in order to suppress the views and rights of the public, such as a limited election system; regulation of freedom of speech; and the Maintenance of Public Order Act, among others, all of which rendered the public unable to regulate the judgment and legislative processes by the then government.
With a sense of profound remorse for such tragic history, the Japanese Constitution was legislated by the Japanese public with their strong determination not to repeat the horror of war which had been implemented by the government. Such determination reflected and reached fruition in the Japanese Constitution through (a) the principle of Constitutionalism, under which the laws of the nation are grounded in constitutional principles which prevent the government from exceeding or abusing its authority, and (b) the three basic principles of (i) respect for fundamental human rights, (ii) the sovereignty of the people, and (iii) permanent pacifism. These are bedrock principles of the Japanese Constitution that should never be changed under any circumstances.
The Japanese Constitution has become firmly entrenched in our society due to the ceaseless efforts of the Japanese public, and it has been providing a guarantee of our rights and the protection of our lives for the 70 years since the end of the war.
In addition, under the Japanese Constitution, our country has been developing and promoting cooperation and friendship with countries around the world, and following the path of a peaceful nation which has not entered into any armed conflict since the conclusion of World War II, and thus has earned a strong reputation and gained the trust of the international society.
Recently however, there has been a move to alter the foundations of the Japanese Constitution.
Specifically, in July 2014, the government decided at a cabinet meeting to approve the exercise of the right to collective self-defense. Further, based on such decision, a bill regarding enhancement of the legislation surrounding peace and safety, as well as a bill regarding support for international peace (hereinafter, collectively, the “Bills”) were subsequently submitted to the Diet in May 2015.
The Bills, which approve the exercising of the right to collective self-defense, are in clear violation of the Japanese Constitution which stipulates that the Japanese people forever renounce war. Additionally, to legislate such laws without going through the appropriate procedures for amending the Constitution goes directly against the principles of Constitutionalism. Despite the fact that these issues have repeatedly been pointed out by a number of constitutional scholars, and moreover, the fact that a majority of the public is opposed to the enactment of the Bills, passage of the Bills was bulldozed through the plenary session of the Lower House.
At this time of reaching the major milestone of 70 years since the end of World War II, thinking back on the history before, during and after World War II, the JFBA hereby expresses our sincere and heartfelt condolences to all of the victims both inside and outside of Japan. Further, in order to avoid having the present situation become as equally suppressed as it was before World War II, the JFBA pledges to continue our all-out efforts to stand firm in maintaining the fundamental principles of the Japanese Constitution and, together with you, to create a peaceful and bountiful Japan where human rights are truly guaranteed.
August 7, 2015
Japan Federation of Bar Associations