(Lecture made at Kokubunji Church on September 15th, 2012)
Born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1980 (32 years old).Linda Åkerström is a political scientist, writer and peace activist who has written about democracy theory, Swedish security policy and Swedish and global arms exports. She has worked for two of Swedens largest peace organisations: the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society and the Swedish UN Association. During the months of August and September, Linda Åkerström is in Japan to study and write about article 9 and the work of the Japanese peace movement with the support from The Scholarship Foundation for Studies of Japanese Society. This autumn, she will lecture and write articles about article nine in Sweden.
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Many international analysts talk about Japan as a country now on its way towards dealing with its war history and becoming a “normal” state where economic and military power go hand in hand. Most of them consider the fact that the peace constitution is still there an enigma. With increasing pressure for amendment, the Japanese peace movement are those who work the hardest in defending Japans pacifist constitution. During my time in Japan, I have met with approximately 17 different peace organizations, working indirectly or directly with article 9. I wanted to know about their experiences of the revision debate and the debate over the interpretation of the article. I was also curious of how and why they thought article 9 was important and how they thought the future for article nine would be like. I also wanted to experience the peace debate in a different culture and setting than the one I work in.
To me, the fact that the power of amending the constitution lies with the people makes this situation very special. Most organizations are also focused on working towards the public and not the political sphere.
The organizations that I have met all have different relations to article 9 and ways of working with it, if they do. They see the basis for the movement to keep article 9 as being based on Japans status as both a victim and a perpetrator. The article is there both in order to save the Japanese people from experience war ever again but also in order to constrain what is seen as a militaristic political sphere.
An important aspect of the Japanese peace movement is the different perspectives with mainland organizations and Okinawa groups and networks. The Okinawan history and present situation both make article 9 a very practical and concrete issue but also leads to article 9 being seen as less idealistic, sometimes even useless. In order to truly defend article nine the Okinawan situation and the concrete double standards need to be acknowledged to a further extent by mainland organizations.
Article 9 gives the Japanese peace movement a unique starting point but also means there is a big task to be done in defending the article as it is being used today and against future even wider reinterpretation.
(Please see my blog: www.klausulen.se)