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Brief Report on Developments regarding Peace in Japan
(for Asian Youth Peace Seminar) 31 July, 2004
1. Peace Constitution and Article 9
On the basis of the deep remorse over Japan’s invasion and atrocities against Asian countries including Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines during the last war, Japan formulated a new constitution in 1947. The new one aims at renouncing war, respecting fundamental human rights, and others. Article 9 says that the Japanese people renounces war …. and the threat or use of force ….. But the recent politics have leaned to the right, as evidenced from the fact that the two big parties have advocated to amend Article 9. Amid such a situation, nine public figures including Nobel laureate Oe Kenzaburo have last month formed an “Association to Defend Article 9.”
2. Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and Self-Defense Forces
In 1952, the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, despite massive people’s opposition, was concluded, which made it possible for the United States to station their forces in the Japanese land. The residents close to the military bases are suffering from various base issues including noise pollution and crimes. In 1954 the Self-Defense Forces were established with a view to protecting the country from attacks abroad. Year by year defense expenditures increased, amounting to the level of 5 trillion yen, or five percent of the 2004 national budget basis. In 2003, the present government enacted contingency legislation and finally began to dispatch hundreds of personnel to Iraq.
3. Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and Okinawa
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were devastated by the atomic bombs in August, 1945, which killed some hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Still now a lot of hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) are obliged to live in a miserable plight without an adequate relief from the government. The nation’s teachers unions urge local boards of education to organize a school excursion of visiting the two cities, and a large number of students visit the cities in order to learn atrocities of war and blessing of peace by observing the monuments and museums. In addition, many school children tour war monuments in Okinawa, where fierce ground battles were carried out toward the end of last war and many residents, mostly children and women, lost their lives.
4. Environmental destruction and human rights abuses
The destruction of environments, ranging from air, water pollution to noise problems, has been afflicting the people in Japan. Abuses of human rights including domestic violence against women, are running rampant In latest years, violent and obscene scenes on TV and the Internet are encouraging juvenile delinquencies, creating serious social problems. Parents and teachers are faced with how to deal properly with these hard issues.