Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Message for Memorial Day Parade in Brunswick, Maine

Times Record (Brunswick, Maine)

By Bruce K. Gagnon

The 2016 theme for the local Memorial Day Parade is “Remembering Pearl Harbor, 75 Years Later.” This theme has many contemporary applications that I would like to address.

After the surrender of the fascist Japanese government in 1945 a new constitution was written for Japan.

On May 3, 1947, Japan’s postwar constitution went into effect. The progressive constitution granted universal suffrage, stripped Emperor Hirohito of all but symbolic power, stipulated a bill of rights, abolished peerage and outlawed Japan’s right to make war. The document was largely the work of Supreme Allied Commander Douglas MacArthur and his occupation staff.

Over the years the Japanese people came to strongly support the new constitution, particularly Article 9 which reads in part: “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

Japan’s crimes against their Asia-Pacific neighbors, particularly their brutal occupation of China, are well known. What is not so well known is that even during WW II a Japanese peace movement existed that resisted, often at risk of their own lives, the aggressive war making of their nation.
So following the establishment of the new Japanese constitution in 1947 the Japanese people have come to cherish the peaceful Article 9. Sadly Article 9 is now in danger.

Since the US announced “pivot” of 60 percent of Pentagon forces into the Asia-Pacific to “contain” China, Washington has been pressuring Japan to get rid of Article 9. The US has repeatedly called on Japan to begin a major military mobilization to assist the US in trying to control China. China of course has directly seen the results of a militarized Japan and has repeatedly spoken out against this serious development.

Current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is widely viewed as a right-wing nationalist. Shinzo Abe is the grandson of a former WW II fascist leader in the imperial Japanese war cabinet who was considered a “Class A war criminal.” The Japanese peace movement today considers Abe a fascist.

Prime Minister Abe has begun to push through the national Diet (Parliament) in Tokyo a “reinterpretation” of Article 9 that will allow Abe to join US offensive wars around the globe. During the last year the Japanese people have overwhelmingly denounced these developments out of fear that the imperialist strains that have been dormant in Japan since the end of WW II are returning to the surface – this time sadly under the encouragement of the US government.

“Article 9 is one of the very keystones of the Japanese post-war constitution; it renounces war and says that Japan will not maintain [offensive] military forces,”’ explains Toshiaki Miura, a journalist at one of Japan’s leading daily newspapers, Asahi Shimbun. “Article 9 restrains the military and has made pacifism an important part of Japan’s national psyche.”

Recent polls have revealed that the majority of the Japanese people want to keep the Peace Constitution as it is — in one Asahi Shimbun poll 68 percent opposed the change to Article 9. Religious leaders and prominent civil society organizations have also raised their concerns with massive protests throughout the country.

Critics, including constitutional scholars, say any such reinterpretation would make a mockery of formal amendment procedures and essentially gut Article 9, opening the door to bigger changes later despite assurances to the contrary.

“Abe knows that once even a tiny hole is opened, he and future conservatives can make the hole bigger with less popular resistance,” said Sophia University professor Koichi Nakano, a member of a group of academics opposed to the change.

On May 30 we will carry a specially made banner during the annual parade that reads: PeaceWorks Supports Keeping Peaceful Article 9 in Japanese Constitution — “Forever Renounce War.”

We urge our midcoast neighbors to seriously reflect on this important story during this time of remembrance.

~ Bruce K. Gagnon is a member of PeaceWorks and lives in Bath.

Note:  Peaceful friends are invited to walk with PeaceWorks and VFP in the Topsham-Brunswick Memorial Day parade.  Starts at 9:00 am in Topsham on Monday, May 30.  We will dress in black. 


Anonymous Brother Jonah said...

This resonates with something Korean non-war-but-heavily-armed-peace-keeping-police-action-whatever-other-excuse-for-not-declaring-it-to-be-what-it-really-was-and-still-is veterans such as my grandfather told me. That Big Mac and others on the right wing wanted to bring Japan into the non-war-but-you-know-the-rest action.

The ROK politely and firmly declined. Or at least the narrative goes that way. And it has a ring of truth about it. I learned in tae kwon do class that Korea had been thoroughly occupied for more than three centuries, by China and Japan just not concurrently. Now they're occupied by NATO.

If any other nation or alliance wanted to build permanent military bases on U.S. sovereign lands there would be a howling from the far right so loud nobody else would be heard. But "our" leaders say we can do exactly that. And when they drop that "we" doodoo on us I have to automatically respond with "what, do you have a mouse in your pocket? What's all this 'we' crap?" It's a highly tuned reflex.

5/30/16, 9:14 AM  

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