From WEEKLY MDS No.1033, May 2, 2008 issue
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Air SDF's Dispatch to Iraq Ruled Unconstitutional

Non-Defended Localities Movement Gains Greater Significance

Integral to the Use of Force

In a lawsuit asking for suspension of the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq, the Nagoya High Court gave an epochal ruling on April 17, determining, "The Air SDF mission to airlift troops is against the Constitution of Japan, Article 9, Paragraph 1."

As a court decision holding missions by the SDF troops unconstitutional, this ruling is the first after the 1973 Sapporo District Court ruling in the Naganuma Nike Missile case (brought to the court concerning a missile base construction in Naganuma town, Hokkaido). While the Naganuma ruling was revoked in a higher court trial, the ruling for the recent case is irrevocably finalized since the right to appeal is not given to the state as it has won the case if only nominally. Sixty-one years after the enactment of the Constitution of Japan, we have the first finalized ruling that finds the government's act in violation of Article 9 of the Constitution.

In deliberations on the 2003 Special Measures Law on Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance in Iraq, which limits SDF troops dispatches to "non-combatant areas," KOIZUMI Junichiro, then prime minister, made a farfetched argument saying, "Wherever SDF troops are dispatched, that area is a non-combatant area." This ruling completely condemned such fallacy through meticulous examination of the reality in Iraq.

On the grounds, "Baghdad is an area where acts of killings and wounding of persons as well as damages to properties are actually taking place as part of international armed conflicts," "Logistics including transportation are critical part of combatant activities in a modern warfare," and "Airlifting of armed troops belonging to the multinational forces constitutes activities integral to their use of force to be deemed as having engaged in the use of force," the ruling has judged that the ASDF's activities violated the Constitution as well as the 2003 Special Measures Law, both prohibiting the use of force. The reasons for the ruling are as clear as they can be.

The Right to Live in Peace - First and Foremost

Even more noteworthy is that the court has recognized the "right to live in peace" as "part of the legal rights under the Constitution."

Some have argued that the right to live in peace is a mere representation of the philosophy behind the Constitution, which means there is no legal protection for the right. The ruling denies that view and explicitly declares, "the right to live in peace is the underlying right that enables all basic human rights to be enjoyed," and "it is a tangible ground for appealing to the court for protection and relief as well as for initiation of relevant legal measures." Moreover, "Should rights to life or freedom of a person be infringed or exposed to damage or fear in war or in the course of preparation for war, or should the person be coerced to participate in or cooperate for war, that person has the right to injunctive relief and the right to claim damage compensation." In other words, the ruling extends the guarantee for the right to live in peace not only to the right to refuse a position of a war victim but also that of a war perpetrator by resorting to legal measures.

War that Japan might wage today would take the form of participation in genocidal war initiated by global capitalism, which would accompany forging of a community-based militarized system. The ruling reassures that the Constitution of Japan guarantees the people the rights to stop such war and to refuse to participate in killings. This ruling enhances our resistance against the militarization of communities under the so-called "people protection plan."

In Tandem with 'SDF Troops Home' Signature Campaign

Taken aback by the Nagoya High Court ruling, Prime Minister FUKUDA Yasuo played dumb, saying, "It is a subordinate argument, not the main sentence." Chief Cabinet Secretary MACHIMURA Nobutaka revealed candid hostility against the ruling, stating, "I cannot accept the judgment of the High Court." Furthermore, the Chief of Staff of the SDF Joint Staff Office even dared to respond with a gag of a comedian, observing, "Speaking about what SDF members would say, 'No need to give a damn.'" It shows how they are determined to continue to run away against the will of the people as well as the court ruling.

Representing the plaintiff team, IKEZUMI Yoshinori said, "Our next challenge is to find ways to stop unconstitutional acts of the state by leveraging the ruling." Exactly. Just like Article 9, the court ruling would also be choked if we did not use it.

The Nagoya High Court ruling has enhanced the radiance of "the right to live in peace." And we have been developing a movement to implement the right in local communities based on international law - the Non-Defended Localities Movement. In conjunction with the 'SDF Troops Home Now' signature campaign, let us make a big success in the coming Amagasaki and Kawasaki direct petition campaigns. (April 21)

Weekly MDS