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Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution renounces war as a means of settling international disputes and prohibits the maintenance of armed forces and other war potential. Article 9 is an international oath declaring No to War, a shared property of all the world's citizens who wish for peace.

Over the years, the Japanese government has made several attempts to amend Article 9 and re-interpret it so as to allow Japan's Self-Defense Forces to participate in international operations. Indeed, despite the restrictions of Article 9, Japan's Self-Defense Forces have gradually expanded over the years, bringing Japan's military expenditure to one of the highest in the world. They have also provided support to U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, carried anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, opened a military base in Djibouti, provided military aid abroad, in the form of disaster relief and engineering, notably in Cambodia and East Timor, and deployed troops to assist the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti. The deployment of SDF abroad remains a very controversial issue.

With the election of Abe Shinzo as Japan's Prime Minister in December 2012, the debate over amending Article 9 is back at the top of the political agenda.

A key figure of Japan's ideological conservative right, Abe Shinzo has made his intentions to revise Article 9 clear. He has also stated publicly that he intends to significantly increase Japan's military spending, revise defense guidelines with the US and turn the Self-Defense Force (SDF) into a full-fledged national army.

During his past tenure in 2006-2007, Abe ardently pushed for the revision of war-renouncing Article 9 of Japan's Constitution. In the name of building a "strong Japan", his track record includes increasing defence spending, overseeing the creation of the Ministry of Defence, advocating for the re-interpretation of Article 9 to expand the mandate of Self-Defence Force missions and allow collective action, as well as, some will even say, encouraging the debate over Japan's acquiring nuclear weapons.

In 2005, Japan-based international NGO Peace Boat, together with the Japan Lawyers' International Solidarity Association (JALISA), launched the Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War. Initially sponsored by a coalition of civil society organizations in Japan, the Campaign has since received support from dozens of groups and thousands of individuals worldwide, including Nobel Laureates and key international figures. Peace Boat serves as the Secretariat of the Campaign.

This campaign seeks not only to locally protect Article 9, but also to educate people around the world about existing international peace mechanisms such as Japan's Constitution and encourage governments to work towards disarmament, demilitarization and a culture of peace.

As a key moment of this campaign, the large scale "Global Article 9 Conference to Abolish War" was held in Japan from May 4-6, 2008. With the participation of Nobel Peace Laureates, intellectuals, cultural figures and NGO activists from over 40 countries, the three-day conference attracted over 33,000 participants nationwide to discuss and have a dialogue on the role that citizens of the world can play to realize the principles of Article 9, through promoting disarmament, demilitarization and a culture of peace. [To read more about the Global Article 9 Conference, click here]

Two international follow-up events were held in 2009. 'Article 9 and Article 12 Conference -- Peace Constitutions for Global Disarmament' took place in July 2009 in Costa Rica; and 'The International Peace Constitutions Conference for Nuclear and Foreign Military Base Abolition' took place in November in Ecuador. [Read more about theses conferences here. For more information about campaign's meetings and activities, click here.]

Global Impact of Article 9

Article 9 is not just a provision of the Japanese law; it also acts as an international peace mechanism towards reductions in military spending, promotion of nuclear-weapon-free zones, ending violence against women, supporting conflict prevention, and mitigating the negative environmental impact of the military.

International civil society organizations have recognized the global impact of Article 9, including its relevance in regards to human rights, disarmament, nuclear weapons abolition, conflict prevention, development, the environment, globalization, UN reform and other global issues. [To read more about Article 9's global scope, click here.]

At the regional level, in July 2005, the UN-convened Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) submitted an action agenda for Northeast Asia that declared that "Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution has been the foundation for collective security for the entire Asia Pacific region."

Today, in the current context of regional tensions, notably with China regarding sovereignty over East China Sea islets (Senkaku/Diaoyu/Daiaoyutai Islands), with South Korea (over Dokdo/Takeshima Island)) and with North Korea over its nuclear program, the debate over amending Article 9 threatens to destabilize regional peace.

At the international level, a strong international network of individuals and NGOs has formed in support of the campaign, from the anti-war movement in the US, to organizations working for peace in Africa or the Middle East, NGOs lobbying for disarmament in Europe and women's groups acting worldwide. [For a list of international individual and institutional supporters, click here.]


This growing international movement and support makes clear that the world values Article 9 as an ideal to which all people aspire, and as a model to follow.

In a world where the chain of violence and war continues unbroken and militarization is gathering speed, the existence of Japan's Article 9 provides encouragement to those who work towards a peace that does not rely on force. Article 9 gives hope hope that another world is possible.

The Article 9 Campaign demonstrates the active value of Article 9 and proposes ways to realize its potential. To that end, the Campaign links Article 9 to other international campaigns, norms and institutions, notably the United Nations, whose Charter calls for decreases in military expenditure and the reallocation of limited resources to solving poverty and to protecting humans from war and violence.

Highlighting the global impact of Article 9, the Campaign engages in advocacy efforts at the international level, notably towards Conflict Prevention, Disarmament for Development, the codification of the Human Right to Peace, and the promotion of Peace Constitutions. Such efforts have included statements and calls to action to the UN Security Council, international bodies and conferences, as well as to governments and a constitutional assembly; the organization of and participation in international conferences, events and multilateral fora, as well as the building and strengthening of global alliances and worldwide partnerships. [To read more about the Campaign's activities, click here.]

Over the years, the Global Article 9 Campaign has built partnerships with a growing number of movements that act towards the same goals, notably the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), Nobel Women's Initiative, International Peace Bureau's Disarmament for Development Campaign, the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS), the New York-based NGO Working Group on Disarmament, and the World Alliance on the Human Right to Peace, among many others.

Inspired by the 1999 Hague Appeal for Peace's call that "every Parliament should adopt a resolution prohibiting their government from going to war, like the Japanese Article 9," and the 2006 Vancouver World Peace Forum's declaration that calls "for governments to constitutionally renounce war (e.g. Japan's Article 9)", we urge global civil society to spread the "No War, No Military" message and lobby their governments to include this concept in their own countries' constitutions.

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