Statement on Attempts to Amend the Japanese Peace Constitution under the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Statement on Attempts to Amend the Japanese Peace Constitution under the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

We urge the Japanese government to keep its international promise, the Peace Constitution.
March 22, 2013

“If you, even you, had only recognized on his day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19.42)

We, the general assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), have been praying earnestly and putting our efforts for the realization of God’s justice and peace on earth, undergirded by our confession and belief in the God of peace. Especially during this Lenten Season we have been in pilgrimage taking upon ourselves the suffering of Jesus Christ through days of fasting and praying together for the realization of justice, peace, and life on earth.

We are deeply concerned that amendments to the Japanese Peace Constitution, particularly the deletion of Article 9 will rapidly pushed forward the agenda of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet that was launched at the end of last year. With him at the helm of government, the Japanese society swings toward conservative political stance. On March 9, Shinzo Abe revealed on national mass media his willingness to possess military forces through constitutional amendment targeting the revision or deletion of Article 9. He declared that “it is up for a debate whether or not Japan should carry out its collective security if it does not have an armed force as a means for international conflict resolution.” It is obvious that Japan would restrain the fast-growing China and North Korea. If Japan, which already formed the Self Defense Forces amends its Constitution and gained the collective self-defense right through U.S.-Japan military alliance would pose grave threat to East Asia region once again.

Ever since defeated in the war in 1945, Japan has continuously denied its crimes committed during its colonial regime. Japan has been defending its history of invasions, lets its right-wing leaders distort factual history in their textbooks, claims its sovereignty over Dokdo, and in addition is the move to abolish Article 9 in the Japanese Constitution. Up until today East Asia is not able to overcome the past. The conflicts resulted from Japan’s history of imperial domination and its invasions continue, because the efforts to end the vestiges of Japanese colonialism and to prevent its recurrence were not fruitful. The past history drags on and haunts our lives today and tomorrow.

We, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), hereupon strongly denounce the moves to amend Japan’s Peace Constitution revising or deleting Article 9 for the worse so that they could rearm themselves. We hereby declare our official stand:

1. The amendment of Japan’s Peace Constitution that will revise or delete Article 9 is for the worse; meaning Japan breaks its international promise.

The Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution specifies that Japan will no longer engage in war and prohibit from forming an army force that was imposed upon Japan as the result of their surrender at the end of the war. This embodies their historical promise to the international society that they would remember the numerous war victims and would never commit another war. Amending the Article 9 is for the worse, and therefore a clear action that violates this promise.

2. The amendment of the Article 9 is for the worse and will expedite arms race in the Northeast Asia. 

The Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution has been the significant basis upon which Asian nations are able to sustain a minimum level of peace and trust with Japan after the war. Any amendment would encourage Japanese society to become conservative right-wing, break the trust and peace among the Northeast Asian societies, and prompt arm race amongst nations. 

3. The Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution sustains the building of peace community in Northeast Asia.

The provision of disarmament and peace in the Article 9 needs to be the foundation for peaceful order in Northeast Asia that aims for protection of human rights, democracy and peace. In addition, the Article 9 is our common treasured asset that enables us to overcome the military tension in Northeast Asia caused by the South Korea-the U.S.-Japan military alliance and to bring about a peaceful world through arms reduction and eventual disarmament.

The Japanese political circles and the forces attempting to amend their constitution for the worse should acknowledge the fact that many people who long for the peace in Northeast Asia remember very vividly the history of invasions and wars committed in the name of ‘self-defense.’ We declare that the international society demands Japan to keep its Article 9 and remain peaceful.

We, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), urge the Park Geun-hye Government to claim its stance against the amendment. Last year the Lee Myong-bak government enforced South Korea-Japan information protection agreement to press China and North Korea through the three-party military alliance of South Korea-the U.S.-Japan, against strong opposition from civil society and citizens. However, it is still not too late for the Park Geun-hye government in its early stage to differentiate itself from the previous government by correctly grasping the circumstance. We urge her government to claim our confident and honorable stance against any foreign-dependent policies.

As we pray for and practice justice, peace, and life on earth today, 68 years since the Independence of our nation, we, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), will think and act justice, peace, and life for the interest of peoples within and surrounding the Korean Peninsula. Only then, Shalom will dawn in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.

We, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), remember in our hearts the humiliation and suffering our forefathers had to bear when they lost their sovereignty a hundred years ago. We pray earnestly so that the unfortunate history will not be repeated. Until there is ‘no war but peace only,’ we will stand in solidarity with all in Northeast Asia to defend the Peace Constitution.

We sincerely pray for the Lord’s peace on Korea and Japan, Northeast Asia, and the whole world.

Secretary General

Han Ki-yang,
Peace and Reunification Committee