Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo spoke at the May 3 Constitutional Day Assembly held at the Hibiya Public Hall in Tokyo, focusing on the urgent task of abolishing nuclear weapons and defending Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.
The following is the summary of the Shii remarks:
U.S. President Barack Obama's speech on April 5 in Prague drew worldwide attention. Three points in his speech caught my attention.
First is that the United States for the first time declared that it will seek to achieve a "world without nuclear weapons" as its national goal.
The second point is that Mr. Obama is the first U.S. president to officially admit that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a matter of moral responsibility concerning humanity and to make clear that the United States has the responsibility to act accordingly.
The third point is Mr. Obama called on the world to work together to establish a "world without nuclear weapons."
Even though differences persist between the JCP and the United States regarding how the Japan-U.S. relationship should proceed, I want to welcome these remarks by President Obama.
Recognizing the importance of the Prague speech on April 5, I sent a letter to President Obama on April 28 to request that the United States take concrete action toward the abolition of all nuclear weapons. I visited the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo for the first time to hand Jim Zumwalt, charge d'affaires ad interim the letter to President Barack Obama.
In the letter, while expressing my concurrence with the speech in general, I stated frankly that I could not agree with the president when he stated, "[T]he goal of a world without nuclear weapons will not be reached, perhaps not in my lifetime."
I expressed my disagreement because no nuclear-weapons country has ever taken the initiative to launch international negotiations aimed at abolishing all nuclear weapons during the last 64 years since the end of World War II.
It may take a lot of time to initiate such talks, to reach agreement, and to implement the agreement. No one can tell before the start of negotiations how long it will take to reach an agreement. Isn't it too early to conclude that the goal of "a world without nuclear weapons" will not be reached, "perhaps in my lifetime" even before getting the process started?
This is something that the U.S. president can accomplish only if he has the will to do so. The U.S. president could call for the abolition of nuclear weapons to be negotiated. He could do this now. In the letter, I strongly requested that President Obama take the initiative in starting international negotiations aimed at concluding an international treaty banning nuclear weapons.
What is it that influenced the United States to change its policy in a forward-looking manner? I am sure that it was the struggle of people throughout the world working for peace. It is also the struggle of people united that can determine the outcome of this issue that has a bearing on the very survival of humanity.
Let us begin to work in Japan, the only atomic-bombed country, to spread the call for the start of international negotiations for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
How was Article 9 born? The U.N. Charter, which was established in June 1945, strictly prohibits the "use or threat of armed force" reflecting a deep remorse over the ravages of two world wars. Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which was promulgated in November 1946, further developed the position of the U.N. Charter, to stipulate the "prohibition of possession of offensive arms" along with the "renunciation of war".
Building on the U.N. Charter, the Japanese Constitution's Article 9 marked a leap forward to clearly establish the principle of lasting pacifism. How did this leap occur?
Japan waged a war of aggression in Asia at a huge cost of lives. It took the lives of 3.1 million Japanese people as well as 20 million people in other Asian countries. Clearly, Japan established Article 9 after learning the bitter lessons from its own war of aggression. There was one more reason that prompted the Japanese people to declare the renunciation of war in Article 9 of the Constitution.
At the time when the U.N. Charter was adopted in June 1945, the world was in the dark regarding the US quest for the atomic bomb. In July, the first nuclear test explosion took place. In August, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, taking the lives of more than 200,000 innocent people, destroying two beautiful Japanese cities. They inflicted untold damage from generation to generation. This tragic experience nurtured the Japanese people's firm determination to prevent the recurrence of a hell on earth, anywhere in the world, and helped establish Article 9.
Here is a booklet entitled "On the New Constitution". The then cabinet published it in November 1946, when the Japanese Constitution was promulgated. On the significance of "renunciation of war" in Chapter II of the Constitution, it stated as follows:
"Once war breaks out, humanity will be ignored, human dignity and human rights infringed on, and civilizations destroyed. The emergence of the atomic weapon has led the world to a crucial stage, which would either increase the possibility of war or eliminate the cause of war. Experts are seriously concerned about this emerging situation because war will eventually annihilate human civilization unless humans renounce war. This shows that this chapter has a major significance in this regard."
There was a time when the government was sensible.
With atomic weapons emerging, civilization and war became unable to coexist. "War will annihilate civilization unless civilization annihilates war." The world faced a terrible situation. Then, Japan decided to renounce war using the strength of civilization by giving up on ground, sea, air force, and all other war potential, as well as to become the first nation to carry this out. That was how our proud Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution was born.
In addition to the determination to prevent another war, Article 9 announced to the peoples of the world that Japan is determined to block a nuclear war. This is the significance of Article in the world's history.
The Aso government obviously does not see any positive changes taking place in the United States.
Following U.S. President Obama's speech calling for a "world without nuclear weapons," Japanese Foreign Minister Nakasone Hirofumi made a statement entitled "Conditions toward Zero ? '11 Benchmarks for Global Nuclear Disarmament'." While speaking in favor of the Obama speech, Nakasone does not ask the United States to take any concrete action toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. The '11 Benchmarks', which he called on the world to support, does not include a call for nuclear weapons to be abolished. Despite his call for efforts at "zero", his zero should be given a 'zero' mark for lacking a call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In the statement, Mr. Nakasone made clear that Japan should continue to depend on U.S. nuclear forces on the grounds that "the extended deterrent including nuclear deterrence under the Japan-U.S. security arrangement is of critical importance for Japan." The foreign minister talks about the need to depend on U.S. nuclear forces even when the U.S. President is calling on the world to work together to make a world free from nuclear weapons. What a disgusting stance for the government of the A-bombed country to take!
The Aso government is also following in steps with the United States regarding the issues on which the U.S. position remains unchanged. No change has taken place so far in the U.S. Obama administration's policy toward Japan. It continues with the policy of strengthening and perpetuating the U.S. military presence in Japan and urging Japan to deploy Self-Defense Force units abroad. As far as these policies are concerned, the Japanese government under Prime Minister Aso is extremely faithful.
Japan is continuing to support the U.S. war in Afghanistan by sending the SDF to the region. The government is sending SDF warships to waters off the coast of Somalia in the name of anti-piracy operations. It is trying to ease restrictions on the use of arms on SDF missions abroad, moving away from the present rule that the SDF can use arms only in self-defense abroad. The change of rules will pave the way for the fully-fledged use of force by allowing the SDF to take part in shootouts by U.S. forces to kill pirates and sink their boats. This means that the SDF now faces the danger of "killing other people and of being killed" abroad for the first time since World War II. Thanks to the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, the SDF has never killed anyone abroad. Let us defend this tradition. Let us raise our voices against the bill to permanently dispatch troops abroad in violation of the Constitution.
Both the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan are calling for the right of collective self-defense to be established in order to enable the SDF to use arms abroad. They plan to get various activities by parliamentary councils on the Constitution started with the view of drafting a revised Constitution. The Japanese Communist Party firmly opposes these moves. Let us block these backward currents and form a solid majority committed to defending Article 9 of the Constitution.
The LDP-Komei government under Prime Minister Aso can neither see the positive change taking place toward peace which the world urged the United States to make, nor follow its example. Instead, it recklessly follows every U.S. policy that remains unchanged. How irresponsible the Japanese government is! Clearly, the future should not be in the hands of such a government.
- Akahata, May 4, 2009