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Declaration Affirming the Current Meaning of the Right to Live Peacefully and Article 9 of the Constitution


Recently, political parties as well as various groups have presented drafts to amend the Constitution of Japan (the Constitution). In May 2007, Japan enacted a law concerning the procedures to amend the Constitution, which enables the proposal of Constitutional amendments to the Diet starting in 2010. Revision of the Constitution is now becoming an actual issue. Some drafts are proposing to delete the right to live peacefully contained in the preamble of the Constitution and Article 9-2 which stipulates that Japan will never maintain military forces and denies the right of belligerency, and to transform the Japan Self-Defense Forces into the constitutional “self-defense military forces”.


The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) adopted the Declaration Requesting the Establishment of Popular Sovereignty and the Realization of the Right to Live Peacefully and Safely (Shimonoseki Declaration) at the 40th JFBA Convention on the  Protection of Human Rights in 1997 followed by the Declaration Requesting the Adherence to Constitutionalism and the Respect to Fundamental Principles of the Constitution (Tottori Declaration) at the 48th said Convention in 2005. The Tottori Declaration affirmed that the principle of thorough and lasting peace by renouncing war and giving up military forces, as stipulated in Article 9, contained a pioneering concept in the path toward peace, which Japan could boast to the world.


After conducting further research and discussions on the background and problems of arguments to revise Article 9, the JFBA affirms at this Convention the current meaning of the right to live peacefully and Article 9 of the Constitution as follows:


  1. The right to live peacefully is a basic human right on which all fundamental human rights exist. This right should be recognized as a concrete norm to realize the right of all people in the world to live peacefully in today’s world of constant conflicts and violence.
  2. Article 9 renounces all war and the use of, or intimidation by, military forces, stipulates, as a pioneering provision in the world, that forces will never be maintained, denies the right of belligerency, and imposes a constitutional responsibility on our country for actively promoting the reduction of armaments and the disarmament in the international community.
  3. Article 9 is effectively functioning to prohibit Japan from using forces overseas, exercising the right of collective self-defense, and to greatly restrict the organization, equipment, and activities of the Self-Defense Forces notwithstanding the serious and tense relationship between this provision and the realities of politics.


The Constitution has established a noble goal to realize respect for individuals and eternal peace and proclaims the right to live peacefully as an essential condition to achieve that goal. Article 9 has been set as a concrete measure for this purpose.


The JFBA strives to obtain mutual understanding inside and outside of Japan concerning the meanings of the right to live peacefully and Article 9 of the Constitution. The JFBA will continue to provide necessary and accurate information about whether the Constitution should be amended and make responsible proposals. The JFBA affirms its commitment to protect fundamental human rights and realize world peace by cooperating with people across the world so that the 21st century will be the "bright century of human rights.”


Japan Federation of Bar Associations
October 3, 2008 at the JFBA Convention on Protection of Human Rights

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