The Hon. Shinzo Abe
Prime Minister of Japan
Statement of Protest against the Cabinet Decision
That Allows the Exercise of a Right to Collective Self-defense
For nearly 70 years since World War II, the Japanese citizens have respected and taken pride in the Constitution of Japan, especially Preamble that appeals for world peace and pledges permanent peace and Article 9 that stipulates the renunciation of war. During these years while international society has undergone incessant armed conflicts, Japan has not caused any deaths in war, either among Japanese or foreigners. However your cabinet has trampled on this Constitution by deciding to reinterpret the Constitution so as to permit the exercise of a right to collective self-defense.
According to the constitutional interpretation of previous governments, the exercise of a right to self-defense allowed under Article 9 means a nonaggressive national security policy in all cases, while the exercise of a right to collective self-defense, which enables the use of force even when our country has not been attacked directly, is ruled out by the Constitution and thus constitutionally unacceptable. Your cabinet announced a reinterpretation of the Constitution so as to allow Japan to exercise a right to collective self-defense. However, it should be absolutely impossible that one cabinet can decide to make such a reinterpretation which is against the basic principles of the Constitution. To enforce such a policy is clearly against Article 99 of the Constitution; “The Emperor or the Regent as well as Ministers of State, members of the Diet, judges, and all other public officials have the obligation to respect and uphold this Constitution.” This action is nothing short of a denial of constitutionalism. To allow the exercise of a right to collective self-defense is to release a brake on armaments and the use of force. It also means that a decision by the government at the time can expose the whole citizenry and the members of the Self Defense Forces to the threat of the horror of war and danger to life. This is absolutely an outrage that buries the spirit of the Preamble and Article 9 of the Constitution.
We strongly protest the cabinet’s decision that allows the exercise of a right to collective self-defense. It is totally unacceptable that your cabinet promises to cooperate with allied nations based on this unjust decision under the premise of an exercise of a right to collective self-defense. Please review and repeal the cabinet’s decision at once.
We, the Catholic Church, are convinced that it is false to think that national security can be ensured by military buildup and the use of force. This is a dangerous idea that aggravates distrust among nations and shatters peace. Moreover, the backtracking on the principles of the Peace Constitution at this moment obstructs the easing of tensions in East Asia so that dialogue and trust among nations will be beyond our reach. Peace is built solely on respect for the dignity of all. Peace can be built only by sincere reflection upon history and apology for past conduct followed by forgiveness.
We must not abandon the hope to avoid war and armed conflict through dialogue and negotiation. No matter how difficult it seems, this is the only way to bring about peace among nations.
We appeal to your conscience and those of your cabinet members. Please remember that your most important task as a man and a politician is to not expose Japanese people and people of other nations to the horrors of wars, and to preserve a peaceful world without war for our children. We make this strong appeal as Japanese citizens and as religious leaders.
July 3, 2014
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan
Chairman: Takeo Okada, Archbishop of Tokyo
Members: Mitsuaki Takami, Archbishop of Nagasaki
Yoshinao Otsuka, Bishop of Kyoto
Masahiro Umemura, Bishop of Yokohama
Ryoji Miyahara, Bishop of Fukuoka
Isao Kikuchi, Bishop of Niigata
Manyo Maeda, Bishop of Hiroshima
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