Monday, June 21, 2010

Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe calls for reduction in U.S. bases, in compliance with Article 9

Yesterday The Mainichi Daily News reported "Nobel laureate Oe calls for reducing U.S. bases in Okinawa" in compliance with Article 9, the Japanese Constitution's Peace Clause:
Kenzaburo Oe, the 1994 Nobel laureate for literature, on Saturday called for reducing U.S. military bases in Okinawa Prefecture and establishing amicable ties with other nations, particularly with China and also with the United States, in accordance with the ideal of the pacifist Constitution.

"While we are under the nuclear umbrella of the United States, the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty will become unnecessary if we could pursue peaceful relations, rather than relying on military deterrence," Oe told some 2,000 people at a meeting of the Article 9 Association in Tokyo. "I want to achieve this."

The meeting was held on the 50th anniversary of the automatic enactment of the revised bilateral treaty on June 19, 1960, following a 30-day Diet stalemate after the government under then Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi railroaded the revision.

Oe, one of the nine founders of the association, also said, "I have to ask myself if we have kept the principle of Article 9 and if we have taken advantage of it. I believe it is necessary to recreate the treaty in accordance with our Constitution."

Two other founders of the Article 9 Association also gave speeches at the meeting.

Hisae Sawachi, a prominent writer, told the audience Japan's Self-Defense Forces have huge military capacities now, although armament expenditures must be zero under the Constitution and that people in Japan need to get out of the nuclear umbrella and the SDF powers.

"I hope we can establish new ties with the United States, particularly through transactions with U.S. citizens, and could revise the bilateral security treaty by placing Article 9 as the origin (of the negotiations)," she said.

Article 9 stipulates that Japan forever renounces war "as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes."

It also says, "Land, sea, and air forces as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."

Another founder, Yasuhiro Okudaira, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo specializing in constitutional studies, said, "Article 9 has inspired us. I'm proud of it."

The participants, meanwhile, mourned late popular playwright Hisashi Inoue, also a founder of the association who succumbed to lung cancer on April 9 this year at the age of 75.

The Article 9 Association was found in June 2004 with the aim to protect the war-renouncing clause of the Constitution, and has generated more than 7,500 like-minded groups across Japan so far.

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