The Article 9 "No War" Clause

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Another distinctive feature of the constitution, and one that has generated as much controversy as the status of the emperor, is the Article 9 "No War" clause. It contains two paragraphs: the first states that the Japanese people "forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes"; the second states that "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential will never be maintained." Some historians attribute the inclusion of Article 9 to Charles Kades, one of MacArthur's closest associates, who was impressed by the spirit of the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact renouncing war. MacArthur himself claimed that the idea had been suggested to him by Prime Minister Shidehara. The article's acceptance by the Japanese government may in part be explained by the desire to protect the imperial throne. Some Allied leaders saw the emperor as the primary factor in Japan's warlike behavior. His assent to the "No War" clause weakened their arguments in favor of abolishing the throne or trying the emperor as a war criminal.

Article 9 has had broad implications for foreign policy, the institution of judicial review as exercised by the Supreme Court, the status of the Self-Defense Forces, and the nature and tactics of opposition politics. During the late 1980s, increases in government appropriations for the Self-Defense Forces averaged more than 5 percent per year. By 1990 Japan was ranked third, behind the then-Soviet Union and the United States, in total defense expenditures, and the United States urged Japan to assume a larger share of the burden of defense of the western Pacific. Given these circumstances, some have viewed Article 9 as increasingly irrelevant. It has remained, however, an important brake on the growth of Japan's military capabilities. Despite the fading of bitter wartime memories, the general public, according to opinion polls, continued to show strong support for this constitutional provision.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress