January 21, 2018

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Association of Scholars Opposed to Security Bills

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The Association of Scholars Opposed to Security Bills is an organization created by a group of Japanese scholars who oppose the recent Security Legislation. The organization was created to  unify opposition to the legislation and also to strengthen the role of scholars in the debates over the Security Legislation. During the Liberal Democratic Party’s Constitution Research Council meeting held on June 4, three of the invited constitutional scholars stated that the security legislation is unconstitutional. This was considered big news, and it became clear that most constitutional scholars considered the legislation unconstitutional. In response to this, Vice President of the LDP Masahiko Komura said that constitutional scholars stick too closely to the letter of the law and that the opinions of scholars were not helpful for maintaining peace.

The comments offended many scholars, especially those who oppose the security legislation. Against this background, three scholars, including Professor Manabu Sato at Gakushuin University founded the organization in June 2015. Not too long after that, many more scholars accepted invitations to join. As of June 15 when the first press conference was held, 2,759 scholars and researchers were the members. As of July 20, when the second press conference was held, the number of members of scholars and researchers have reached 11,218. At the moment, the organization includes approximately 14,000 Japanese scholars. Interestingly, the organization includes scholars from a wide variety of fields. Naturally, it includes constitutional scholars and political scientists. But it also includes scholars of other fields, such as physics, economics, history,literature, math,philosophy and archaeology. For example, Professor of physics at Kyoto University and 2008 Nobel prize winner, Hidetoshi Masukawa, is a member of the organization.

However, the fact that it includes scholars from various fields has led to criticism from some, since it is seen as illegitimate for scholars not in the fields of politics or law to criticize the Security Legislation. The organization also suffered was also criticized for not including many of professors of international politics.

The organization includes foreign scholars such as Professor Kelly Michael J.of Law and Associate Dean, Creighton University, Professor Kevin Clements at the New Zealand National Center for Peace and Conflict Studies and Professor Michael Burawoy in the Sociology Department at UC Berkeley.  Scholars from other countries such as South Korea, Taiwan, Germany, Canada and France are also members of the organization.

Below is the comments in the press conference

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Professor Manabu Sato of the Department of Education at Gakushuin University

We oppose the security bills. We are standing at an important crossroads 70 years after the war. At the moment, the International Peace Support Law and 10 other peace and security related bills have been submitted to the Parliament and are being debated. However, there are violations of Article 9 of the Constitution since these bills are intended to make it possible for the Self Defense Force to be deployed and join military activities of foreign countries such as the United States. We demand that the Parliament debate this issue thoroughly and reject these bills. The bills enable the SDF to use armed force when a foreign country is being attacked (but not Japan) as long as the government decides that such an attack will threaten the sovereignty of Japan. They also allow the SDF to go anywhere in this world where a foreign military (such as US military) is fighting and lend cooperation and logistical support to that foreign military. Moreover, in the name of protecting armaments of a foreign militaries like the US military, the SDF will work as an allied force and will ultimately allow the SDF to use armaments.

“The use of armed force” that Prime Minister Abe references is not limited and will widen the SDF’s capacity to attack, thus contradicting Japan’s exclusively defensive security policy.

This could eventually lead Japan to participate in an American war, as it enables Japan to fight in wars. We are carrying the burden of a regretful history where Japanese universities sent many students to the battlefields. With this deep remorse, we adopted Article 9, and we engaged in education as scholars with the intention of being the foundation for the world peace. We strived hard not to repeat the aftermath of the war. We must not create a situation where we send youth to the battlefields. In the name of scholarly inquiry and common sense, we strongly object and oppose to the bills that are submitted to the parliament.

[When this statement was made on June 15, the bills were still being debated in the Lower House. They passed in July and were sent to the Upper House where it passed.]

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Professor Jiro Yamaguchi at Department of Law at Hosei University

As you know, after the three constitutional scholars said that the bills were unconstitutional, the tenor of the debate over the security legislation has been drastically changed. In response to this, vice president of the LDP, Masahiko Komura stated that constitutional scholars are too stuck on the letter of the law, and he asked whether we could protect the peace by doing things just as scholars say? He provoked a fight with scholars. There is no option for me, except to join this fight.

I came to this press conference with determination. It has been seventy years since the end of WWll and eighty years since the Emperor Organ Theory has been adopted. [The Emperor Organ Theory is a theory derived from the Imperial Era Constitution where the emperor is seen as representing the highest political body in the country.] It took only 10 years after Japan began suppressing scholars based on the Emperor Organ Theory for Japan to be destroyed by its loss in the war.

I would like you to remember this fact. It is normal for constitutional scholars to be stuck on the letter of the law. It is completely the same as mathematicians who are stuck on the logic of 1+1=2. If you tell them to stop being fixated on that, it would be a horrible intrusion into their work. I have one more thing that I would like to say: “can we protect the peace by doing things just as scholars say?” I would not argue that we should do things just as scholars say. But, it is a part of scholar’s job to criticize those who hold power.

Pacifism was maintained after the war because our most prominent scholars had been criticizing the policies of the LDP. Because of this criticism, the people in power became humble enough to change course and pursue Japanese pacifism. This was manifested as being an exclusively defensive security policy and non-use of the right to collective self-defense. At the very moment when the Abe administration is pushing its unconstitutional bills, we scholars cannot be keep quiet. I joined this organization, because if I don’t criticize this administration’s loss of control, then there would be no reason for scholarship to exist in this world.

スクリーンショット (967)

Professor Miho Aoi Specializes in Constitutional Law at Gakushuin University Law School

I am professor Aoi from Gakushuin University. I specialize in Constitutional Law. Comments such as “constitutional scholars stick too much on words,” and “ by protecting Constitution, the country will be destroyed,” have been bandied about lately. However, this is a very serious sign of danger. At the moment, the government is trying to do things that they cannot do forcibly. It is as if they are trying to break a branch of a tree forcibly. The branch of the tree stands for constitutionalism. Originally, constitutionalism is an attempt to control the politics by law, and such control only happens as long as our efforts are never ending.

The constitution does not allow for military capabilities. Therefore, what the government is trying to do is to manufacture something out of nothing. This is a very difficult thing to do. If you change the Constitution, just because the government wants to, then the Constitution is just a piece of paper. We are facing a crisis. As a constitutional scholar, I could not remain silent, and as a result, I came to this press conference.

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Professor Emeritus Norio Kaifu at National Astronomical Observatory Japan

Switching gears from the previous scholars, my speciality is astronomy, which is one of the basic sciences. I could not just keep silent and stay in the closet simply because my field is Astronomy. I am so grateful for the invitation. A famous American astronomer, who is now deceased, once stated that science and democracy should go hand in hand. This comment deeply resonates with me. As a scientist, I would like to strongly support a Constitution that renounces the use of armed force as a means of resolving international conflicts since I think this is the most noble of pursuits. However, looking at the current situation, I see this pursuit is endangered.

I think that the people who are advocating these bills will not admit the fact that Japan has waged wars of aggression. Before the end of WWII, its militarism led to the incorporation of science and art into the country’s system of control. [Current advocates of the legislation] do not repent this history. I feel that there is a grave sense of crisis in this.

The Association of Scholars Opposed to Security Bills Official Website in English


(Source: Video News. Com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8toG6R5kk-A)


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