G8に9条を! Article 9 to the G8!

     Rashed Al Titumir(Action Aid/バングラディシュ)

A World WIthout War – the Role of the G8 and Japan’s Peace Constitution
7 July (Mon), 7-9pm
L Plaza Sapporo, 2F Environment Study Room
Organised by the Global Article 9 Campaign and Peace Boat
Speakers: Kawasaki Akira (Peace Boat)
        Tsukushi Takehiko (Foundation for Human Rights in Asia)
        Nagasawa Masataka (Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace)
        Rashed Al Titumir (Action Aid / Bangladesh)

As this event was being held away from the main venue of the Peoples Summit (the Convention Centre), we were worried about whether there would be many participants, but we were relieved to see almost all seats in the room full!
The first part of this session was a presentation of a DVD showing the Global Article 9 Conference to Abolish War, which was held in Japan this May, followed by presentations from each of the speakers.

(English below)

報告 野平晋作


There were two main goals to the Global Article 9 Conference. One was to share the principles of Article 9 to the international community and use this as an opportunity to globalise Article 9 as a model. The second was to create an event that not only older people who have long been active on constitution related issues, but also the younger generation could feel connected to and participate in actively, to broaden the support base of the future movement in support of Article 9. As we were able to gather over 30,000 participants from over 40 countries/regions, including Nobel Peace Laureates, we consider that the conference was able to achieve these two goals.
The conference reconfirmed three particular roles of Article 9. 1: peaceful resolution of conflict; 2; disarmament for the better for human beings – disarmament for development, and 3: the right to live in peace.  We can see the phenomenon in the USA of disadvantaged youth “volunteering” to join the military and being sent to war. Japan, where economic disparities amongst society are growing more and more, would likely be drawn into a similar situation should Article 9 be “amended.” We would particularly like to focus on these two second points and continue the development of the Global Article 9 Campaign from now and appeal about the real meaning of the principles of Article 9.
I am involved in various anti-war and constitution related activities through the Foundation for Human Rights in Asia and World Peace Now. Until now, I had personally been involvved in various solidarity activities with people in other Asian countries, particularly Korea, however had never considered the idea of holding an international conference on the topic of Article 9. When Peace Boat suggested this concept, we decided to work together.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are not bringing in legislation with conditions such as the Special Measures Law, but are rather pushing through legislation which is making it possible for the Self Defence Forces to be deployed overseas. However, former Prime Minister Abe was attempting to actually change the constitution itself, yet this failed as he was not able to gain the support of the mainstream of the LDP. All the Fukuda administration has done is to bring the LDP back to its prescribed course. 
In this sense, the critical situation the constitution is now in has not changed. However, I believe that we can raise things such as the fact that recent newspaper surveys showed that the majority is now opposing constitutional amendment as successful achievements of our movement.

There were prior activities within Catholic activists working towards the internationalisation and spread of Article 9 throughout the world. As the Global Article 9 Conference goals were the same as those of our own activities, we decided to work together to hold the conference. 
I would say that there were two important achievements for humanity at the end of World War II. The first is the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the second is Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution. This year marks 60 uears since the adaption of the Declaration on Human Rights, and I believe that Article 9 should also be considered for its true significant meaning. When my own country Bangladesh separated from Pakistan, to create a country without an army was considered. However, the reality is that even today the country is controlled by the military. I personally hope to learn from the efforts towards peace of everyone hear today, and bring these lessons home with me.
The question and answer session following raised issues such as how people from conflict regions view the pacifism and nonviolent principles of article 9, and how efforts could have been made for the Global Article 9 Conference to receive more media coverage. 
Report: Nohira Shinsaku, Sapporo



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