【PART 1】 Mystery of Okinawa: Military Bases and the Constitution
【22】 Supreme Court ruling according to the scenario drawn up by the U.S. Department of State
However important it is that treaties such as the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and SOFA be observed, violating citizens’ human rights should not be allowed. It is the role of the Constitution to prevent such violations. This hierarchy of authority between the Constitution, treaties, and laws is illustrated in the diagram below on the right.
Accordingly, treaties have more power than normal laws, but they are less powerful than the Constitution. The reason is that modern constitutions were born to protect the people from the tyranny of authorities. Therefore, even if the Japanese government signs the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which is superior to the domestic Civil Aeronautics Law, the Constitution should put an end to any dangerous flights that prove to be harmful to the lives or health of residents. By definition, this is how a law-abiding country should be.
However, in the 1959 Sunagawa case (determining whether the presence of USFJ was legal), an appalling decision was issued by Supreme Court Chief Justice Kotaro Tanaka (mentioned above as the incumbent from 1950, during the occupied era, until 1960, after Japan regained independence and revised the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty). Put simply, the verdict ruled that the constitutionality of highly political matters such as the Security Treaty need not be determined by the Supreme Court. (*)
Now consider the result of such a ruling. In issues related to the Security Treaty, the Constitution as the top part of the pyramid of authority…disappears. Instead, the structure becomes like the diagram on the bottom left. In other words, this ruling decided, once and for all, that the Security Treaty and related agreements were superior to all Japanese domestic laws including the Constitution.
This allows USFJ to do whatever it pleases across the country. The examples I have given of U.S. Forces’ “illegal acts,” such as flying over residential areas at low altitudes and arbitrarily sealing off accident sites, were in fact not illegal at all. They turned out to be completely legitimate within Japan’s legal structure. Based on this ruling, later decisions on related cases (such as noise pollution lawsuits) have all concluded that “U.S. aircraft operations cannot be suspended.”
It gets even worse. All proceedings of the Sunagawa case, including the policies of the prosecutors and Japanese government, and the verdict of the Supreme Court, had been a scenario drawn up from beginning to end by the U.S. government, which had directed and guided the whole process, intent on keeping its military bases in Japan. This shocking truth was revealed for the first time in an American official document six years ago, in 2008.
It was found that both the Chief Justice of Japan’s Supreme Court, who issued the ruling, and Japan’s Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, which opposed the citizens, had been receiving directions and guidance from the U.S. Department of State. The whole issue is presented with illustrations in the book Verification: the Collapse of a Constitutional State. Anyone interested in the subject should read it. Its findings are truly shocking.
* ・・・ To be more precise, the Supreme Court ruling on the Sunagawa case states the following:
The Security Treaty…is featured with an extremely high degree of political consideration, having bearing upon the very existence of our country as a sovereign power, and any legal determination as to whether the content of the treaty is constitutional or not is in many respects inseparably related to the high degree of political consideration or discretionary power on the part of the Cabinet which concluded the treaty and on the part of the Diet which approved it. . .Accordingly, …the said treaty…falls outside the purview of the power of judicial review granted to the court.