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Article 9; A Call For Peace

Studying alongside Japanese students in my seminar class is a really unique experience of Japanese university life, not only because of the differences in the style of teaching, but because their opinions differ so much from the opinions of British students.

I’m not entirely sure if it is a London view or nationwide view, but it often seems that we have all become so cynical in the UK that war is an inevitable means of conflict resolution (apart from a few vegan alpaca farmers who have renounced the use of toilet paper and electricity). Just look at the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq; peace discussions quickly broke down and physical intervention ensued. Of course everyone wants world peace (especially Miss World 2008, 2007, 2006…) but in Japan, people genuinely believe it is possible. I find this kind of optimism for the future of the world very refreshing.

After the 2nd world war, the new constitution which was written for Japan included “Article 9” which translates into English as the following:

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.

In class we were discussing whether it would be possible to export this article to other countries. Every single one of my Japanese classmates thought that it should and could be achieved. Every single one of the Americans thought that the US would never adopt such a policy.

With family and friends in the armed forces, I find it hard to be anything but supportive of the our troops, and however much I agree with Article 9 as a utopian ideal, I cannot imagine the UK ever renouncing war in a similar way to Japan for the simple reason that the UK is too deeply connected with international affairs.

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