Japan’s Constitution Makeover

From the January 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

On Nov. 22, 2005, the ruling Japanese Liberal Democratic Party unveiled a draft revision of the Japanese Constitution that includes changes to the war-renouncing Article 9. A month earlier, Tokyo welcomed Washington’s decision to station a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Japanese waters.

These moves highlight Japan’s current makeover from a pacifist nation into a proactive global leader.

The draft revision of Article 9 is simply a step toward formal recognition of what Tokyo has already done. Article 9 prohibits Japan from maintaining a military and pursuing war. However, Japan has already revised the article in all but name: It deployed Japanese police and Ground Self Defense Force troops to Iraq and to military operations in the Middle East and South Asia; it has taken a strong role in the joint development of missile defense systems; it is the second-largest defense spender in the world.

Clearly Japan is eager for a more dominant role on the world scene—the draft revision just makes it official. Whereas the Constitution currently states, “The Japanese people for ever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. Land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained”—the new draft says, “In order to secure peace and the independence of our country as well as the security of the state and the people, military forces for self-defence shall be maintained. In addition, the defence forces can take part in efforts to maintain international peace and security under international cooperation.”

Removing the restrictions of Article 9 in its Constitution will enable Japan to use its military power, as well as its economic and political sway, to exert influence and protect its interests. An official, uninhibited military will also strengthen Japan’s bid for a permanent Security Council seat at the UN. After all, a strong, capable military is a prerequisite for a nation to become a global power. With the second-biggest navy and second-largest economy in the world, Japan is on its way.

This shift toward belligerency is meeting with America’s approval. Desperate for allies, a militarily-stretched America is encouraging Japan in hopes of lightening its own security burden.

But Bible prophecy shows that Japan’s interests will not lie with America’s for much longer. When Japan acquires a greater ability to seek and protect its own interests free of the U.S.’s influence, it will shift its alliances toward Asia. Soon, a U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier will no longer be welcomed in Japan’s waters.

Continue to watch for Japan to complete its makeover into a major global player. For more, read the Trumpet’s February 2003 article “Japan’s Place in the Future.”