The Story of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution
Kenneth L. Port
Mitchell Hamline School of Law; William Mitchell College of Law
September 10, 2008
Japan has been experiencing an odd constitutional challenge for over 60 years. In Article 9 of the Constitution, which Americans drafted after World War II, Japan renounces belligerent war. However, within the society, multiple meanings of Article 9 have developed. Each "story" of Article 9 seems as legitimate as the next because the Supreme Court has abdicated their responsibility to resolve this important constitutional issue by calling Article 9 a non-justiciable, political question. Therefore, the only entity that has been silent on what Article 9 means is the Supreme Court. As a result, there are many, many interpretations of what Article 9 stands for. On one extreme are Article 9 Society groups that claim that it stands for the proposition that Japan is a completely pacifist nation and may not possess any military for any purpose. On the other extreme, the Liberal Democratic Party that has ruled Japan for most of the post-WWII era feels Article 9 restrains the military somewhat but does not prevent it from becoming one of the largest militaries in the world by dollars spent.
This situation of not having a Supreme Court ruling on this important societal issue transforms this into a moral, ethical, or spiritual debate, not a legal or constitutional one. This debate has come to play the role in Japan that abortion has played as a rhetorical and political issue in the United States. However, because there is no Supreme Court ruling, it is a debate over Roe v. Wade without the Roe v. Wade.
Keywords: Japanese Constitution, Japanese Law, Article 9
JEL Classification: K19, K39
Date posted: September 12, 2008