We strongly protest the purported “adoption” of the Abe administration’s security bills by the House of Representatives on July 16, 2015, and by the House of Councilors in the early morning of
September 19, 2015.
The bills provide for the exercise of “collective self-defense.” As we have previously stated, successive cabinets have taken the position that the exercise of collective self-defense would violate the Constitution, and during deliberations on the bills, the vast majority of legal specialists in Japan, including constitutional law scholars, former chiefs of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, and a former chief justice of the Supreme Court, also cast grave doubt on the constitutionality of the bills. The certainty or high likelihood of the unconstitutionality of the bills is not only supported by the number of people who claim they are unconstitutional and by the authority of people who make this claim, but is also based on truth derived from reason. As individuals affiliated with a university, we cannot be silent in the face of the Abe administration’s complete disregard of this fact. Further, according to opinion polls the majority of Japanese citizens are opposed to the hasty enactment of the bills in the current Diet session. In other words, a great many citizens also do not accept the “adoption” of the bills.
Further, the way in which the bills were deliberated on and “adopted” in the Diet and the Diet committees does not befit a democratic nation. The administration’s replies to questions about the bills were entirely unsatisfactory. Simply reading aloud similar texts over and over regardless of what was asked can in no way be considered an “explanation,” and even in response to questions in which the administration was specifically requested to reply only “yes” or “no,” it replied by talking at length about unrelated issues, thereby cutting more and more into the restricted question time allotted to members of the opposition. The number of times opposition members made statements such as “Prime Minister, I haven’t received an answer from you” or “That doesn’t answer my question” should be counted by checking in the minutes of the Diet proceedings. In addition, as a result of the fact that the administration gave confused and contradictory replies or was completely unable to reply, deliberations were halted more than 100 times in the House of Councilors special committee. The content of deliberations was made even more superficial by the fact that 11 separate laws were condensed into only two bills.
The bills were hastily “adopted” in a highly confused situation in which stenographic recording had been suspended, members of the ruling party and their secretaries who were not committee members had illegally entered the committee room and rushed to surround the committee chairman, and members of the opposition were denied the time and opportunity to ask concluding questions and the right to cast their vote. There is no official record of what exactly took place when the bills were “adopted,” and no record of the proceedings of the local public hearing (held earlier in the day) in the minutes of the committee meeting, an exceedingly abnormal way of conducting proceedings. Given these circumstances, there is grave doubt about whether the “adoption” of the bills is in fact legally valid.
The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)’s 2012 draft for an amended Constitution included surprising changes, namely transferring sovereignty from the people back to the state, making human rights conditional on obligations, and discarding pacifism. It was essentially a declaration that Japan was no longer to be a modern constitutional state. The replacement of the head of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, the enactment of the state secrets law, interference with the appointment of NHK executives and the content of NHK programs, the movement to adopt revisionist history textbooks for schools, and the “enactment” of the security bills are an effort to put an end to the peaceful postwar period and thrust Japan into a new period containing many negative aspects of the prewar period. The content of the security bills and the way in which they were “enacted” constitute a threat to the very foundations of democracy, constitutionalism, and pacifism in this country, 70 years after the end of World War II. Prime Minister Abe may wish his name to go down in history, but he will be remembered not in a positive way, but as the man that “lifted the ban” on Japan going to war again.
Based on a sense of deep remorse for the war, Aoyama Gakuin University has since acted as “the salt of the earth,” upholding the conception of Japan as a pacifist state. As members of this university, we cannot accept the security bills or the direction that the Abe administration, which forced the bills through, is taking. “All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matthew 26:52). We believe that if we are to fight, it should not be a fight with other countries using military force, but a fight to reclaim and rebuild democracy.
We strongly protest the reckless and uncontrolled behavior of the Abe administration and its disregard for democracy, and demand that the security bills be repealed.
Aoyama Gakuin University Peace and Freedom Campaign
September 23, 2015