Secret behind the birth of the Constitution of Japan: “1st period behind closed doors—9 days”

 

Y: Human rights are violated by the U.S. military bases in Okinawa and the mainland, and by the radiation contamination in eastern Japan, especially at Fukushima. These situations are unthinkable not only in developed nations but in all law-abiding nations. The government is now relocating even babies and infants back into some areas in Fukushima—areas that have four times the radiation as radiation-controlled areas (such as X-ray rooms (5 mSv/year)). In other words, the Constitution is not working at all.
One of the major causes is the Sunagawa Case, which I talked about last time. Under normal conditions there should be nationwide controversies and movements against the Supreme Court, demanding that the outrageous judgment in that Case be annulled (especially since I published the official U.S. document admitting that the U.S. Ambassador to Japan directed the actions of the Japanese Foreign Minister). It is obvious the Sunagawa judgment violates people’s rights.
But one of the reasons why people are not united is that liberals are divided into four groups according to historical perceptions of the Constitution.
As I mentioned earlier, we can focus on tactics for a short time, but they cannot be influential enough because they’re not based on historical truth.
Let’s discuss this.
There are four groups of liberals with four different perceptions:

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Y: 1) the Constitution of Japan was written by the Japanese, it was written by GHQ, 2) Article 9-2 of the Constitution should be changed, it should not be changed. What do you think of 1) and 2), Mr. Takano?

T: I think it was drafted by GHQ, though they compromised in the end.

Y: Right.

H: It was first written in English.

T: That’s why it sounds like a translation. I think the situation was complicated at that time, but the basis of it was written by the U.S., and some ideas from Japan were adopted to some extent.

Y: I’m wondering when ordinary people came to know this.

Y: This is a book I produced 22 years ago, in which a TV director wrote about his TV program. I didn’t know then, around 1992, that GHQ wrote the Constitution.
When do you think people realized it?

H: They don’t know it yet.

Y: Even now?

H: Japanese people aren’t interested in the Constitution in the first place.

Y: As I wrote in this book, a university student working at my office had a quarrel with her brother about it. She was taught that the Constitution of Japan was said to be written by the Japanese but was actually written by GHQ. Her brother was taught it was the other way around: the Constitution of Japan was said to be written by GHQ but was actually written by Japanese. So they had a serious quarrel. It is extraordinary that there’s no consensus among the people on who wrote the Constitution.
So, first, the confusion over who wrote the Constitution is simply a perceptional problem. The historical fact is very simple.
This is the cover of the book. On the left is General MacArthur and on the right is Courtney Whitney, director of the Government Section, which produced the revision of the Constitution and improved the governing system. When I published this book, I had the chance to talk to Charles L. Kades, who’d been in charge of writing the Constitution.

 

Y: That experience has been the basis of my current book.
He had been a very handsome and capable man and implemented occupation policies at quite a pace when he was 39. When I met him he was 86, a genial old man.
But when I mentioned the draft constitution, he got strangely rattled, saying “Are you going to write about it? I’ll have to check it.” It was very bizarre.
When he died, he donated documents about the occupation to a library, but there was no document of the original draft constitution to be found. It’s been removed.
The next picture is shot at a strange angle. But…

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H: What’s this?

Y: There’s no room for argument about who wrote Japan’s Constitution.

This book, Political Reorientation of Japan 1945-1948, was published by the Government Section in 1949.

 

Y: It says, “He (Whitney) then stated that the Supreme Commander (MacArthur) had caused to be prepared a detailed statement of those principles he deemed basic, that the statement was being presented to the Japanese Government in the form of a draft constitution, and that the Government was advised to give it the fullest consideration and use it as a guide in its renewed efforts to prepare a revised constitution.” This draft constitution was produced between February 4 and 12 of 1946, and given on the 13th to Shigeru Yoshida, Foreign Minister at that time.
It is written in an objective tone, but it means they created a constitution following what the GHQ thought was important.
Then the Japanese side translated it and did some editorial arranging. But the U.S. changed it back again,saying their basic forms and fundamental principles must not be altered, that such basic forms and fundamental principles were related to everything. Though Japan was able to change some parts, such as Article 25 (on the right to life), it is clear that the wording in the current Constitution hasn’t changed very much from the draft.
So whatever your politics is, it is necessary to admit this fact. But some old liberalists don’t. They think the Constitution was made based on Japanese ideas.

T: That is very tactical. In order to argue against conservatives’ claims that constitutional revision is necessary because it was made by the U.S.

Y: So, what I wanted to argue in my book is that we liberals should begin an essential constitution debate, not a tactical one.

H: In my book proposing some constitutional revisions, I admitted that Americans wrote the Constitution. I also wrote that it is extreme to say we therefore should change all the contents. Some parts can remain. But even from the liberalist’s point of view the Constitution should be changed.

Y: That’s a reasonable opinion. But the problem is, if you say the Constitution should be changed, you’ll be regarded as an advocate of constitutional amendment. If you say we should be armed, you’ll be called an advocate of self-defense. An advocate of self-defense sounds strange, though (laughs).
I admit that most articles written by GHQ were good and couldn’t be written by the Japanese at that time. At the same time, it is also a fact that GHQ forced Japan to accept the document behind closed doors. It is contradictory that such a good thing had to be compelled behind closed doors. But that is the historical fact. The right wing, however, wants to change the Constitution because something forced upon us is sure to be bad. (And when they mean change it, they mean in a way that assures fewer human rights.) Liberals argue that it’s a good Constitution, that something so good can’t have been coerced behind closed doors. But in truth, it was both. Their arguments don’t overlap.

T: Both are the facts. The UN Charter was written in 1945, and the Constitution of Japan along with it, based on lessons learnt from two world wars. So the Constitution was based on something like democratic idealism.
Denying it completely because it was made by the U.S. means denying the UN charter as the ultimate destination.

Y: We have to admit the historical fact that we didn’t write the Constitution, because that means we cannot revise it properly by ourselves [or: “for the reason that we could not write it ourselves”?].
Usually in other countries, there is a group that created the constitution, and they’d try to protect its essence in times of peril. But, since there’s no such group here, people don’t really care when the Abe government destroys the constitution. It is a fundamental problem.