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Thursday
Feb192015

Aspiring Sincerely

Japan is a funny place.

Prostitution is technically illegal in Japan, and yet it is everywhere. Gambling is illegal, but that doesn’t keep the more than 12,000 pachinko parlors nationwide from raking it in. And if pachinko doesn’t sate your masochistic gambling needs there are also mahjong parlors galore, horse races, boat races, and keirin.

The Constitution of Japan also forbids the country from having land, sea and air forces.[1] Japan, however, famously maintains the fifth largest defense budget in the world.[2]

Personally speaking, I do not really care all that much whether Japan has a proper military or not. If the vast majority of the Japanese people want to scrap Article 9, so be it.[3] What I am concerned about, though, is the integrity of the Japanese Constitution. If laws continue to be flouted as they often are, what will stop future leaders from dismissing the Constitution altogether? Now that’s where the real danger lies.

 


[1] Article 9 of the Japanese constitution 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. 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.”

[2] Figures vary. In 2013, the Yearbook listed Japan as eighth, just above India and below Germany. The International Institute for Strategic Studies 2013 had Japan in seventh place just below France and above Germany.

Japan’s military budget has a “symbolic ceiling” of 1% of GDP. One percent of the world’s third largest economy, however, adds up to a lot of military hardware.

[3] Fortunately, they don’t.

Prime Minister Abe may be itching to change Japan’s “peace constitution”, but I think he fails to appreciate what a convenient excuse that constitution provides Japan. Whenever her allies have needed military assistance, all the Prime Minister has had to do was point to the constitution and say, “I’d love to help, honestly I would, but my hands are tied.” Why would you want to change that?

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