No Right to Fight: The Modern Implications of Japan's Pacifist Postwar Constitution

8 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2011

See all articles by Zachary D. Kaufman

Zachary D. Kaufman

Boston University - School of Law; Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law; University of Houston Law Center; Stanford Law School; Yale University - Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: 2008


This piece, published in the Yale Journal of International Law, considers the consequences of Japan’s remilitarization since World War II, when it was constitutionally barred from maintaining an offensive military. The piece argues that “Japan’s apparent rearmament, perhaps inevitable, would violate the country’s pacifist postwar constitution and prompt concerns among its neighbors and around the globe, especially at a time in which Japan is increasingly nationalistic and revisionist.” The piece suggests that, “[a]s it remilitarizes to secure its future, Japan must confront its past. If it does not fully and sincerely address the wartime atrocities it perpetrated, Japan may ultimately find itself facing an increasingly suspicious and hostile environment.” The piece concludes that “Japan now has two main options: It can continue as it has, employing linguistic gymnastics to claim that it technically complies with its pacifist constitution, or it can amend its constitution to reflect what many believe is already a reality - that the previously defanged island country has been rearming for years and will continue to do so. A third option - that Japan reverse its rearming trend and thus comply with Article 9 - seems unlikely.”

Keywords: Japan, United States, North Korea, China, Iraq, World War II, Military, Remilitarization, Rearmament, Nationalism, Revisionism, Pacifism, Terrorism, Atrocities, War Crimes, Constitution, United Nations Security Council, Self-Defense, Defense, Offense, Aggression, Nuclear Weapons, Peacekeeping

Suggested Citation

Kaufman, Zachary D., No Right to Fight: The Modern Implications of Japan's Pacifist Postwar Constitution (2008). Yale Journal of International Law, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 266-273, 2008, Available at SSRN:

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