Second Inter-religious Conference on the Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution

 

CONFERENCE STATEMENT
From Tokyo to Seoul – The Second Inter-Religious Conference on Article 9

The first Asia Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 and Peace and Asia was held in Tokyo at the Korean YMCA from November 29 to December 1, 2007 with the participation of leaders from religious communities in Asia and the rest of the world. The Conference was hosted by an inter-religious body in Japan to respond to the move of the Japanese government towards militarization. It was able to consolidate an inter-faith network for peace and non-violence in the spirit of Article 9 in a meaningful and hopeful way.

In October, 2008, the hosting committee in Japan organized a follow up meeting in Tokyo at which the International Working Committee (IWC) was formed to implement the recommendation and proposals given by the first Conference. The IWC decided to organize the Second Conference in Seoul in December, 2009, hosted by the Korean religious community including the National Council of Churches in Korea.  A collaborative process was initiated to prepare a mission statement to be presented and approved by the Second Conference in Seoul.

Based on the decision taken by the IWC, a letter was sent in December, 2008, to the President elect Obama to ask him: 

  • to study and reconsider the U.S. military presence with its ongoing plan of transformation and realignment;
  • stop pressuring the government of Japan to revise Article 9; 
  • adopt a new multilateral policy that would guarantee peace and stability in East Asia;
  • enable Japan's disarmament and the withdrawal of the U.S. Forces;
  • promote the vision of Nuclear Free East Asia as the first step.

The Second Conference on Article 9 reiterates the calls made to US President Barack Obama.

During this Second Conference attended by more than 80 religious leaders representing Buddhist, Christian and Muslim faith communities, reports on developments in Japan and the rest of East Asia, stories from communities affected by the presence and actions by military forces were shared.  Our deliberations and reflections brought many insights to light, including the following -

  • Supporting Article 9 has changed the interactions between religion and politics.  In a sense, it has helped the communities re-learn what it means to be living their faith in an area of public concern;
  • The issue of Article 9 is the first time that communities of faith as a group  has taken a faith-based stand in public on peace;
  • Supporting Article 9 has created solidarity among different religions;
  • Shared concern for Article 9 has created new bonds between religious and  other peace advocates;
  • Many have been moved to reclaim Article 9 as part of the people's agenda;
  • Article 9 is more relevant for regional and international relations than ever, and is forward-looking.  It can be seem as the core value of a future East Asian Community; 
  • Countries that have made war on their neighbors have to make right with their neighbors in order to find a lasting peace.  Article 9 is a reminder that truth and reconciliation after past conflicts is necessary;
  • Japan must move beyond its 'One Nation Peace Identity' to the joint building of regional peace with its neighbors;
  • East Asia's post-war race to prosperity and success has divided the region in new ways;rticle 9 invites people of the region to promote a fuller understanding of peace. The "right to a peaceful existence" in the preamble of the Japanese Constitution is derived from the right to be free from fear in the Preamble  and to be free from want in Article 25.  The challenge is to create a world where all peoples have the right to live in peace free from fear and want. 

It is our resolve to actively pursue the following to advance the spirit of Article 9:

  1. To broaden our perspective that peace is not just the absence of war but that which is based on justice and human dignity;
  2. To undertake more vigorous cross-generational peace education (i.e., children, youth and adults), to include exposure programs, inter-religious dialogues and the training of peace education facilitators and advocates, the use of creative media. And people need to be more vigilant in making their governments more accountable;    
  3. To support the Japanese people in their efforts to interpret in their own terms the spirit and application of Article 9;
  4. To expand the peace network in countries experiencing conflict and violence, including the Philippines, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia and other countries;
  5. To study the link between US foreign domination and peace building in Asia;
  6. To espouse the abolition of nuclear weapons among powerful countries and in any part of the world;
  7. To actively oppose the presence of US bases and self-defense forces, which are contradictory to Article 9;
  8. To take inter-religious dialogues at the level of communities, where the impact of conflict and militarization is felt more intensely;
  9. To recommend the inclusion of the Article 9 campaign in the Ecumenical Advocacy Day (Washington DC, March 2010) and the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (Jamaica, 2011);To support all efforts at reunification in the Korean Peninsula.

We commend this Statement to all religious communities for their prayerful consideration, commitment and deliberate actions as individuals and as communities.

December 3, 2009
Academy House, Seoul, Korea.


CONFERENCE MISSION STATEMENT
December 1-4, 2009   Seoul, South Korea

Introduction

The humankind experienced hell twice in the 20th Century. More than 100 millions were massacred in two world wars. The threat of nuclear weapons with the capability of annihilating the entire humankind looms. The Russel-Einstein Manifesto in 1955 challenged the existence of weapons of mass destruction such as the atomic and the hydrogen bombs saying:

"Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?"

We cannot ignore this hard question which demands a clear response from us of either a YES or a NO. Incredible as it seems, the Constitution of Japan made an unmistakable option of renouncing war as if predicting the challenge posed by the Russel-Einstein Manifesto nine years later. Article 9 of Japan's Constitution states:

Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

Article 9 is the expression of sincere apology and repentance of the war of aggression and colonial rule of the people of Japan for the crimes committed during the 20th century. It is an expression of the significance and value of an unarmed, democratic state in today's world. In this sense, it can be said that the Constitution of Japan should be an inspiration for the constitution of any nation state. We believe in the importance of translating the principle of non-violence into other levels of our lives.

Though the Liberal Democratic Party is no longer in power, the threat to revise Article 9 still remains. The unification of Japan's Self Defense Forces and the United States Armed Forces in Japan is a disguise to support and participate in the U.S. led hegemonic war which practically strips Article 9 of its essential message.

Our Mandate

The Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 and Peace in Asia was organized to respond to this reality of grave concern. The Conference statement issued on December 1, 2006 affirms the following.

In the light of these dangerous developments in Japan, we cannot be passive spectators. Based on our religious teaching, we believe that:

  • War is always a crime
  • War brings death both to the body of the victim and the soul of the perpetrator

We commit ourselves to:

  • Sincerely practice the spirit of Article 9 at all times and in all places
  • Protect the dignity of the victims of all forms of violence

All religions are universal, transcending races and nations. Today, however, there are cases where religions are used to instigate and justify violence. Religions should be purified to their original inspiration, and their followers should faithfully translate these truths and realities about life in word and deed in their respective contexts. Each religion should be an expression of the universal truths like peace, and lead to collectively proclaim and live these rather than insist on differences that may lead to disunity or even hostility."

Our Calls

We are believers in the truth of unconditional love as we are aware of eternal life. Non-violence is based on this truth. We, the participants of Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 and Peace in Asia, based on the religious truth of non-violence, refuse to accept any ideology and behavior that promote the culture of war. We commit ourselves to protect and enliven Article 9. We defend the life and dignity of all people, especially, victims of violence, guarantee "the right to live in peace, free from fear and want" (Preamble, Constitution of Japan) and create right human relationships based on trust and respect. We understand this to include gender and ecological justice in society and in our institutions.

We call on citizens of the world to support and join our movement to make "renunciation of war" and "demilitarization" a concrete reality in Japan, Asia and the entire world. We commit ourselves to strive for this ardent desire of the human race and unite ourselves with all people who share the same prayer.

Final form, Dec. 3, 2009
Academy House, Seoul, Korea


LETTER TO PRESIDENT GLORIA ARROYO OF THE PHILIPPINES
November 30 - December 4, 2009
PROK Academy House, San 76, Insu-dong, Kangbuk-ku, Seoul, Korea

December 03, 2009
HE Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace, Manila
Philippines

Dear Madame President Arroyo:

We are gathered in Seoul, Korea as participants in the Second Inter-Religious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution The Conference is part of the continuing concern and response by the people of Japan and the rest of the world to uphold and honor the Article 9 provision in the Japanese Constitution, which deters the Japanese people's participation in wars and any military activity.

It is with sadness and great concern that we received the shocking news of the recent massacre in Maguindanao Province, Southern Philippines. From reliable sources we were informed that more than 57 civilians were brutally murdered at the behest of a known political warlord. The massacre victims include thirty journalists and two human rights lawyers.

We are outraged by this case of extrajudicial killings committed with impunity and demand that the perpetrators of this violence are brought to justice. We offer our prayers of sympathy and support for the grieving families of the victims. We offer as well our commiseration and sympathy to our brothers and sisters, especially those who continue to bear the brunt of the continuing violence in the Philippines. We join the Filipino people in their demand to stop the spiral of violence, to disarm the warlords, and to rescind the Executive Order 546 which allows politicians to fund private armies and their violent activities.

Every human life given by God is sacred and is supposed to be protected by the laws of the Government of the day. There is no other way to pursue peace but by the way of peace itself.

Yours sincerely,
The faith leaders, participants in the Second Article 9 Conference
Academy House, Seoul, Korea

Mr. Jonathan Frerichs,
World Council of Churches

Mr. Charlie Ocampo,
Christian Conference of Asia

Bern Jagunos,
United Church of Canada

Rev. Dr. Xialing Zhu,
United Church of Christ, USA

Min. Ashley Coulter Brown,
Methodist Episcopal Church, USA

Dr. Mira Sonntag,
Evangelisches Missionswerk in Sudwestdeutschland

Rev. Hu Hong-Chi,
Presbyterian Church in Taiwan

Mr. Mohammad Abdus Sabur, 
Asia Muslim Action Network , Bangkok, Thailand

Jokura Kei,
National Christian Council in Japan

Tani Shoji,
National Christian Council in Japan

Iisuka Takuya,
National Christian Council in Japan

Arai Katsuhiro,
National Christian Council in Japan(NCCJ)

Koike Zen,
United Church of Christ in Japan