[JURIST] Thousands of activists protested in Japan on Sunday in opposition to efforts to amend the country's pacifist constitution [text; JURIST news archive]. Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, drafted during the American occupation of Japan after World War II, states:
Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, 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.
(2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.
Organizers of the rally called the provision "a world class model for peace" and renounced a recent move to amend the provision to allow Japan to take a larger role in the global war on terror. Similar protests are planned for Monday and Tuesday. AP has more.
Last May, the upper house of the Japanese parliament approved legislation [JURIST report] establishing procedures to facilitate a national constitutional referendum. Under the legislation, possible constitutional amendments must be approved by both houses of the National Diet by a two-thirds vote after a three-year public consultation period on the proposed amendment. The change must then be approved by a majority of voters in a national referendum. Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had called for constitutional reform [JURIST report], arguing that the pacifist constitution does not reflect changes in the country's foreign and security policies. Last month, a Japanese court ruled that the country's dispatch of air force troops in Kuwait is unconstitutional [JURIST report], but did not order the government to redeploy the personnel.