CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 June 2019

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Law suits to be filed against Japan’s security laws

TOKYO (AsiaNews): A group of 300 lawyers is preparing to file lawsuits with district courts across Japan claiming that the security legislation introduced by the government of Shinzo Abe in July 2014 violates the national constitution.

The lawyers are arguing that changes to Article Nine of the constitution, commonly known as the Peace Constitution, which bans the use of any armed aggression as a tool of foreign policy, could make the country a terrorism target or get it involved in a war on a daily basis.

They say that they are adamant that this should not happen.

The article was introduced by the government of the United States of America during its occupation of the country at the end of World War II.

The constitution only allows the country to maintain a self-defence force.

Nevertheless, it is popular with the Japanese population and there was strong opposition against Abe’s move to alter the interpretation of Article Nine of the constitution, popularly known as the Peace Constitution.

But backed by a large majority in the Diet, the Abe administration was able to get its new interpretation of self-defence approved easily.

In May of last year, the various parties that make up Japan’s coalition government gave the green light to the changes.

Despite strong opposition, including from the Catholic Church, the lower house approved the amendments in July, followed in September by the upper house.

Lawsuits against the controversial security laws are set to be filed in March this year, when the constitutional amendments come into force.

The previous prime minister, Naoto Kan, a former chief justice of the Supreme Court, together with the country’s Buddhist and Christian religious leaders, is among those who want to see the changes repealed.

Some believe that the strongest driving force behind the decision to file the court cases was the Church, which has firmly maintained that Japan must remain a land of peace.

Bishop Taiji Katsuya, the president of the Commission for Justice and Peace, said, “Democracy is not only a question of numbers. If that were the case, then the concept of parliament as place for debate would be meaningless.”

He added, “The Japanese people are not convinced by these laws. This is why their voice of protest was strongly heard during the approval process.”

Bishop Katsuya believes that the government has rammed the unconstitutional laws through the parliament, which threatens the parliamentary system and popular sovereignty, a violation of Article 99 of the constitution, which requires the government respect the fundamental law.

“Consequently,” the bishop says, “this administration is not worthy of being called a government.”

 

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