04 May 2017

News Story: Constitutional revision debate among youths doesn't follow usual ideological divides

Japan's postwar Constitution marked its 70th anniversary on May 3. Over the past seven decades, the supreme law's enshrinement of popular sovereignty, respect for basic human rights and pacifism as this country's basic principles has helped shape postwar Japan. In recent years, however, people's opinions about the Constitution -- especially among youth -- are not always driven by political or ideological belief.

Philosophy of law professor Koichi Taniguchi at Tokyo Metropolitan University has taught first-year seminar courses for 10 years since academic 2006. At the beginning of each school year, he assigns his students essays on the Constitution's war-renouncing Article 9 -- whether they are pro- or anti-constitutional amendment, or have an alternative position. He has 158 of the essays on file.

One student wrote, "I support maintaining Article 9 that clearly states Japan renounces war. My grandparents told me about their war experiences and it's important to have the will not to engage in war ever." Another student wrote, "I'm for revising Article 9. I don't think having an armed forces and recognizing the right to use such forces would directly lead Japan to war."

Taniguchi says that, every year, the ratio of pro-revision to anti-revision essays is about six to four.

"The anti-constitutional revision camp has the basis of absolute rejection of any war and therefore is not influenced by current social situations, while the pro-revision camp is sensitive to changes in society," Taniguchi explains.

Read the full story at The Mainichi