Transcending Law

The Unintended Life of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution

by Kenneth L. Port

Tags: Constitutional Law, International Law

Table of Contents (PDF)

294 pp  $35.00

ISBN 978-1-59460-749-3

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Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution has engendered scholarship in Japanese and English as well as in other languages. It turns out that there are two versions of Article 9: the English version that purports to prevent Japan from rearming and insists on Japanese pacifism, and the Japanese version that is less absolute and imprecise. Japan has the fourth largest military in the world by dollars spent.  This is called the "great contradiction." For the first time, Professor Port resolves this recurrent debate by explaining that there are simply two versions of Article 9.

Many parties, entities, and even individuals have joined this debate to give their interpretation, and there are at least two diametrically opposed interpretations. On the one hand, the long-time ruling Liberal Democratic Party interprets Article 9 very narrowly to say that Japan can do anything it wants as long as it is for the defense of the Japanese people. On the other hand, the Communist Party of Japan and many private people argue that Article 9 mandates complete Japanese pacifism and Japan should not possess a military for any purpose whatsoever.

In Transcending Law, Professor Port points out that the only entity that has remained on the sidelines during this 60 year debate has been the Supreme Court of Japan, although it is the one body that has the authority to interpret the Constitution. Thoroughly and objectively, Port explains all viewpoints of this complicated topic. As Japan moves toward revising its Constitution, Port argues it is now time for the Supreme Court to be heard.

"Port argues that Japanese traditions and politics, have combined with foreign pressures to produce a war machine despite the constitutional commitment to 'forever renounce war.' It is compelling reading for a war plagued world." — Howard Anawalt, Professor Emeritus, Santa Clara University Law School