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Japanese protest allowing creation of military { October 2007 }

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Sunday, Nov. 25, 2007
Pro-Article 9 groups rally at national assembly

Kyodo News

About 1,000 people from across the country converged on Tokyo Saturday to hold an assembly to speak out and counter any moves to revise the pacifist Constitution.

The assembly was organized by the Article 9 Association, which was founded in 2004 by nine pro-Constitution intellectuals, including Makoto Oda, who passed away in July at the age of 75, and Kenzaburo Oe, the 1994 Nobel laureate for literature.

"People are now thinking that Japan should not blindly follow unreasonable wars led by the United States, and recent surveys show the majority of them believe Japan should not revise war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution," Yoichi Komori, secretary general of the association, said at the start of the forum.

"Now we want to urge them to respond that they believe Article 9 should never be revised," said Komori, who is also professor at the University of Tokyo.

The association has called on the public to form pro-Article 9 groups in their communities, schools and workplaces so they can link up with each other and seek further support for the clause.

Komori reported to the meeting that more than 6,800 like-minded groups have been established so far nationwide.

Also addressing the participants was Yasuhiro Okudaira, a leading constitutional scholar who is one of the group's founding members. Okudaira said there was a need to rally those who are against revising Article 9 and to make sure they can rise above any differences they may have regarding their beliefs or principles.

"There can be various grounds for opposing the constitutional revision," said Okudaira, who is a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo. "And we have to unite these voices, despite differences in reasoning."

Another founder, writer Hisae Sawachi, criticized Japan's huge defense budget.

"Public disapproval for such situations led the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to lose the House of Councilors election in the summer, and I want to see hope that we can improve our lives by depending on the Constitution," she said.

"Some people say they want to make Japan 'an ordinary country' by allowing it to possess military power, but it will inevitably lead to possessing nuclear weapons," she said.

Article 9 states: "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."

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