【PART 3】 The Mystery of the Security Treaty Village (1): The Showa Emperor and the Constitution of Japan
【42】 Great darkness in the Constitution that is the basis of the state
Later on, GHQ’s draft constitution was handed to Shigeru Yoshida, the foreign minister, and passed by a convention in the Japanese government and approved by the Showa Emperor. At a cabinet meeting, it was decided to make Japanese articles based on it. And on the same day, the Legislative Bureau of the diet began composing the articles. It was February 26, the day of the first meeting of FEC. (Process of Establishment of Japanese Constitution by Kenzo Takayanagi, Ichiro Ohtomo and Hideo Tanaka/Yuhikaku)
The whole project was planned as precisely as the schedule of a military operation.
It is not well known what kind of person Whitney was, but it is certain that he was loyal to his boss, or MacArthur, and I think his loyalty made him approve the series of actions.
Kades, meanwhile, was a young man of 39 at that time, and probably had a strong idealistic wish to “create a model constitution for the next generation”–though at the same time it was one of the ambitious policies decided by the U.S. (Basic policy document: Reform of the Japanese Governmental System [SWINCC228])
He mentioned two things about the Constitution’s Article 9, which he drafted. (Historical Record of Occupation 3)
First, “The objective of the U.S. in making Article 9 was to prevent Japan from having an army forever. But, let it keep a right to defend itself. In other words, Japan will never have any force other than a self-defense force.”
Second: “I proclaimed that I will do the draft of the constitution (on my own.)… One of the reasons is that I remembered what is stated in the Kellogg Briand Pact (Article 1: The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective people that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another). I was in law school when the Kellogg Briand Pact was ratified in 1928. I thought it would be a big turning point in world history.”
He tried to express “humanity’s ultimate ideal” in the Constitution, making use of the framework of “punishment for a defeated country.” And he had to write in the Constitution that Japan restarts as an absolute democratic country, while keeping the Emperor system. He needed to make articles on a tightrope in order to write all these things. So I think his explanation to MacArthur in a memo by Whitney was his real opinion of the need to prepare the Japanese for what the draft constitution contained: “I thought it better strategy to orient them before the formal submission of a draft than to wait and force them to again start from scratch once an unacceptable draft had been submitted to which they were committed.” (Memorandum for the Supreme Commander, February 2nd, 1946)
These actions had a decisive meaning in considering a post-war society in Japan. The problem was not only that the occupation army drafted the defeated country’s constitution, but also that they claimed it as having been written by the Japanese. As I mentioned earlier, Japan is still in a state of great confusion over this problem, having been divided into two arguing groups for 70 years since the end of the war.
In a word, a great darkness was made in the Constitution that is the basis of our nation.
It was the censorship of the period that concealed from the Japanese the fact of GHQ having drafted the Constitution. If the Japanese people had been openly forced to accept the draft, we would have been able to make the Constitution on our own at the end of the occupation, as a matter of course. At the same time, I think it was not possible that the contents of the Constitution could have been better than the current Constitution of Japan.
Nevertheless if we had first made a constitution by ourselves at the independence, while taking advantage of good points of the GHQ draft, at least such an incredible situation as what we have now would have been avoided: a governing party with a revision plan as old as the 18th century, one that denies constitutionalism, won an election by a landslide.
As I pointed out earlier, an argument that “it does not matter who wrote the Constitution if the contents are good” is totally wrong about the Constitutional issue. A modern constitution is not something given by someone in power, no matter how good the contents are.
Japanese people cannot be blamed for not having such political knowledge since they are not like European people who occupied each other’s lands in turn for a long time, but we have to know it is commonsense in the world now.