Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party and a member of the House of Councilors, spoke to Washington Times reporter Takehiko Kambayashi about her opposition to amending Japan’s war-renouncing constitution.
Question: What makes Japan attempt to rewrite its constitution now?
Answer: First, Japan is trying to faithfully carry out its role that the U.S. seeks to change as part of its worldwide strategy. So, Japan, given a command, could rewrite its constitution and dispatch its SDF (Self-Defense Forces).
Many Japanese, however, believe Article 9 (of the constitution) is valuable and that the country can make a peaceful international contribution without rewriting it. Article 9 is significant, because it is a commitment to the international community, especially to Asian countries, after Japan caused them to suffer during World War II. However, it seems that the United States and Japan have become dissatisfied with it.
Second, I believe it has to do with the American and Japanese defense industries. For instance, the Japanese defense industry, teaming up with its U.S. counterpart, works on missile-defense plans. So, both of them can reap profits.
Many Japanese are strongly against war.
They are also concerned that, if Article 9 were rewritten, their democracy and civil society would suffer setbacks, and that Japan’s relations with other Asian countries could vastly worsen. This would not serve its national interest nor benefit the public.
However, business groups like the Japan Business Federation have proposed that Article 9 be amended. I believe that shows they want to overcome economic downturns by boosting the defense industry.
Q: More and more Japanese doubt that Japan contributes significantly to the world’s well-being now.
A: I don’t believe we can build peace by military means. But I do believe it a genuine contribution to contribute to the world without it.
Q: Without Article 9, would Japan have fought in Iraq alongside the United States?
A: I believe so. Japan, as well as the U.S., would have bombed Iraq relentlessly, killing many. Some Japanese, too, would have been killed.
Q: Would there have been terrorist attacks in Japan?
A: Certainly. That may still happen here now.
These days, more Japanese are working overseas, involved in the activities of international organizations, NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) or with volunteer groups.
Some also work in refugee camps, provide agricultural training or build schools on foreign soil. Others send money to Iraq for medical supplies. I believe such activities are Japan’s best hope. However, some Japanese working for NGOs say that Japan’s dispatch of the SDF to Iraq has made their activities very difficult.
Warfare divides people into allies and foes. Japan should continue to make an international contribution without military means. Not shedding one’s own blood means not shedding that of others.