The Peace Constitution has been saved from crisis many times by people’s struggles, but simultaneously those pro-constitution forces have been attacked and mass movements nearly escaped a critical phase. Under the circumstances sprout today seeds sowed in the midst of people’s resistance. This summer people feel a sentiment. Voices of ‘Against wars!’ are heard across the country.
SEEDS OF RESISTANCE SPROUT AND KEEP GROWING
I, a writer of this commentary, was 14 years old in 1960 when nationwide campaigns were held against the US-Japan Security Treaty. Our teacher told to boys and girls in the classroom ‘to study for yourself today as I will join demonstrations in the street’. Classmates were happy to hear that.
Newspapers said on the front pages that 100-300 thousand people had encircled the parliament building. On June 15 when a college student, Ms Kamba Michiko was killed, the incident was broadcasted on the spot by an announcer who shouted in the tragic voice in the attacks of police batons. I have listened to the news in the midnight. I was a child and felt that people’s strikes and demonstrations were right and that the authority power was wrong. The 1960’s mass movements against the Treaty permeated into the hearts of ordinary people.
Constitution was Bright
Big demonstrations and political strikes were not staged later after the 1960’s events. It was because, though the then-Kishi Administration had withdrawn immediately after the forceful amendment of the Treaty, the succeeding Ikeda government promoted a ‘high pace of economic growth’ policy, which rapidly appeased mass protest.
Nevertheless, the official slogan of rapid development began to fade. Contradictions emerged in the late 60s. The society trembled in the following years with various campaigns: against another amendment of the Security Treaty, against the war in Vietnam and for returning Okinawa Island to Japan. Spring Labor Offensives extended to broader strata of people. Trains stopped running, postal items delayed in delivery, university students built up barricades in the streets and residents exerted to force to refuse nuclear power plants and accuse of industrial pollutions ? the society did not denounce protest actions. Cooperation between the Socialist Party and the Communist Party developed and consolidated. The Constitution retained bright status.
However, the situation began to deteriorate when the Tanaka government, based on illicit money under the theme of ‘restructuring the archipelago’, was replaced with the Miki government which appealed clean politics. Years later was organized the Nakasone government which openly announced to disband the Socialist Party and the Sohyo, the General Council of Trade Unions of Japan.
In 1991 when the first Gulf War broke out and in 92 when the PKO (peace keeping operation) mission was legalized by the Diet, protest movements were organized, as a result of which people perceived significance of Article Nine of the Constitution which renounces a war as a means to settle international conflicts. On the issue to deploy the Self Defense Forces abroad the Diet debates were paralyzed by a tactic of snail’s pace of opposition parties and demonstrations staged by dozens of thousand of people outside the Diet building who shouted ‘do not send any one of soldiers’. Thus, an overwhelming number of people have realized that the Article Nine principle must prevail in the rest of the world, which was confirmed by opinion polls, too.
Unfortunately, however, the Socialist Party bitterly lost in the 1992 elections for the House of Councilors as the Sohyo had been disunited and replaced with the Rengo, the Japan Trade Union Confederation, which hindered the Party to break it up. That was a beginning of collapse of the party.
People will never be Cheated
We have seen deceptions and experienced hardships for years. The political core to defend the constitution retreated, but an anti-war trend has gained impetus. Sowed seeds begin sprouting. Trails and errors of efforts made for years are alive, not finished in vain.
Prime Minister Abe is to change the government, according to a report, after it will successfully have enacted the war bills with force to make up a new one that has a trivial difference.
We see an imminent danger of war. The Constitution is on the abyss. The core of state’s authoritarian power is exposed. People will never be cheated.
August 11, 2015