ARTICLE 9, A TEMPLATE FOR PEACE by David Rothauser
Peace activists the world over march, demonstrate, sit-in, write-in, boycott and do civil disobedience – all to bring about an end to war making and a beginning for peace as a way of life. How many times have we “marched on Washington,” carried the names of war dead, interred them in wooden coffins outside the White House, tried to raze the Pentagon, begged, bled and screamed for the end to senseless killing by our military abroad? And the wars rage on.
Robert MacNamara, in his expository book, In Retrospect, admitted that the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations knew from the start that the war in Vietnam could not have been won. Still they blundered on, driven by hubris to commit 58,000 US. troops and millions of Vietnamese to a horrendous death.
Vietnam, followed by the first Gulf War, then Iraq and now Afghanistan – all wars of folly.
All those years all that chanting, singing, “What do we want? PEACE ! When do we want it? NOW!” “Where have all the flowers gone – long time passing?” Reading the names of the dead soldiers at Riverside Church in a tiny chapel – “John Daniel Forshey, Jacksonville, Florida, 20 years old – dead in Vietnam…” Flag draped coffins. The Stars and Stripes is alive and well at the Annin Flag factory in Verona, NJ.
Article 9, A TEMPLATE FOR PEACE, originated at the end of World War II when Baron Kijuro Shidehara was riding on a train. A young man on the train jumped up and started yelling that Japan had started WWII without telling the Japanese people and had ended it without telling them. Agreeing with the man, people surrounding him joined the criticism of the government for betraying its people.
A peace activist to the core the Baron never forgot the anguish of the young man on the train. Later in 1945 as Prime Minister of Japan, Shidehara approached General Douglas MacArthur, Allied Supreme Commander in Southeast Asia to write a peace constitution for Japan. He felt strongly the need to change Japan, so the government would never make people suffer from wars they didn’t want in the first place. In his memoirs Shidehara mentions:
…it would be safer not to have even one soldier. This is the way Japan should go.
He also believed that the unity of the people is stronger than military force. In 1946 U.S. occupation forces re-wrote the constitution in 10 days. Article 9 of the constitution states unequivocally that Japan will never again make war. Japan has not made war in 67 years. Shidehara told MacArthur, “The world will laugh and mock us as impractical visionaries, but a hundred years from now we will be called prophets.” The real power of the peace constitution is that it is a proven document in action. Not one civilian nor one military has been lost to war making in 67 years.
A testament to Article 9 is its ability to survive the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” perpetrated upon it by both the U.S. and Japanese governments. The following timeline will help to put the power of Article 9 into perspective.
1950 Just four years after its inception, Article 9 meets its first challenge on the world stage. America becomes embroiled in another war, this time in Korea.
“Drop Article Nine of the Constitution,” said Uncle Sam. “Create an army of 350,000, go to war against North Korea.” Japan settles for a 75.000 home defense police.
Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru says, “You gave Japanese women the right to vote, they won’t let us go to war.”
1956 National policy has embodied "three non-nuclear principles" — forbidding the nation to possess, manufacture or to allow nuclear weapons to be introduced into its territories.
1959 U.S. and Japanese governments form a secret pact to bring nuclear weapons to Japanese harbors – a direct violation of the 3 non-nuclear principles.
1965 Vietnam War
Japan government provides embarkation bases and maintenance centers on the mainland and on Okinawa.
The Japanese rallied, marched, and agitated against American actions in Indochina in the late 1960s, forming the biggest antiwar movement in their history. Japanese people hold firm to Article Nine.
1990 1st Gulf War
As Japan was a major consumer of oil from the Persian Gulf, some critics urged Japanese military participation in the Gulf War, but Japan steadfastly refused to violate their constitution.
Japan's support of NATO-led coalition forces in Afghanistan has been limited to refueling their ships in the Indian Ocean since 2001.
2003 Iraq War
Japan served as a repair facility for US aircraft, ships, tanks, and artillery.
2009 President Obama calls for a nuclear weapons-free world.
The challenge is ours to act upon. Our survival is at stake. It is not Japan alone who needs Article Nine, it is the world.
2013 Together America and Japan, united by the power of Article 9 can form a coalition fully supporting United Nations leadership to abolish war making as a political/economic tool.
- What then is the meaning of this schism between the Japanese people and their own government?
- And too, what kind of people are we, the Americans who wrote Article 9 in the first place? Why do we refuse to grasp this world treasure born out of the sweat and blood of our own tears? Given life from the handshake of the warrior and the diplomat?
Yet, in the face of it all, Article 9 stands proud. A powerful beacon beckoning the warrior and the diplomat to spread the grace and beauty of this TEMPLATE FOR PEACE. No need to re-invent the wheel.
It is then that the beauty of Article Nine may reach it’s full fruition.