Article 9 of The Japanese Constitution - Interpretation

Interpretation

Soon after the adoption of the Constitution of Japan in 1947, the Chinese Civil War ended in victory for the Communist Party of China in 1949 and the establishment of the People's Republic of China. As a consequence, the United States was left without the Republic of China as a military ally against communism in the Pacific. There was a desire on the part of the United States occupation forces for Japan to take a more active military role in the struggle against communism during the Cold War.

In 1950, following the outbreak of the Korean War, the U.S. 24th Infantry Division was pulled out of Japan and sent to fight on the front lines in Korea, leaving Japan without any armed protection. MacArthur ordered the creation of a 75,000-strong National Police Reserve (警察予備隊, Keisatsu yobitai?) to maintain order in Japan and repel any possible invasion from outside. The NPR was organized by United States Army Col. Frank Kowalski (later a U.S. congressman) using Army surplus equipment. To avoid possible constitutional violations, military items were given civilian names: tanks, for instance, were named "special vehicles." Shigesaburo Suzuki, a leader of the Japan Socialist Party, brought suit in the Supreme Court of Japan to have the NPR declared unconstitutional: however, his case was dismissed by the Grand Bench for lack of relevance.

On August 1, 1952, a new National Safety Agency (保安庁, Hoancho?) was formed to supervise the NPR and its maritime component. The new agency was directly headed by Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida. Yoshida supported its constitutionality: although he stated in a 1952 Diet committee session that "to maintain war potential, even for the purpose of self-defense, necessitate revision of the Constitution." He later responded to the JSP's constitutionality claims by stating that the NSF had no true war potential in the modern era. In 1954, the National Safety Agency became the Japan Defense Agency, and the National Police Reserve became the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF).

In practice, the JSDF are very well equipped and the maritime forces are considered to be stronger than the navies of some of Japan's neighbors. The Supreme Court of Japan has reinforced the constitutionality of armed self-defense in several major rulings, most notably the "Sunakawa Case" of 1959, which upheld the legality of the then-current U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.

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