With End-Iraq-Occupation campaigns gaining momentum worldwide, Japanese activists have initiated a class action for unconstitutionality of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) dispatch to Iraq. They are also pressing criminal charges against Prime Minister KOIZUMI Jun-ichiro with violation of the Criminal Law Article 93, which prohibits anyone from preparing to wage a private war on a foreign country.
1262 Citizens Sue Government for Unconstitutionality of SDF Dispatch
On February 23, a lawsuit was filed to cancel the deployment and prohibit further dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to Iraq with the Nagoya District Court. The class action was taken by 1,262 citizens from all over Japan, one of the greatest numbers of plaintiffs so far.
Overseas Deployment is Unconstitutional
In a complaint, the plaintiffs demand that the Court reaffirm that dispatch of SDF troops abroad is unconstitutional in violation of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution and that present and future deployment of SDF units be withdrawn or prohibited. They also demand the compensation for the psychological damages caused by being forced to be part of aggressors, which subsequently infringed the right of the Japanese people to live in peace.
"In only four weeks since we appealed for the support on January 21, the number of plaintiffs has surpassed 1,000. I realize that many Japanese are looking for an opportunity to act because they do not know what to do to stop military dispatch even if they want to do something," said Mr. IKEZUMI Yoshinori, who organized the movement.
The half of 1,262 plaintiffs are local residents of Aichi Prefecture, while the other half has come from all parts of Japan covering Okinawa to Hokkaido indicating the strong desire and concern of the Japanese people for the non-involvement of their soldiers with military actions abroad.
Mr. Ikezumi emphasized, "It is anger that urged us to sue the Japanese government." He points out the higher standard expected from the Court. "Although Japanese courts dealt with many cases of unconstitutionality up to now, such as the Peace-keeping Operations (PKO) law, they have never made judgment on the matter of constitutionality. That is, they never exercised judicial authority vested in them to determine the constitutionality. Accumulation of their indecisiveness has led to today's situation where heavily armed SDF troops are being flown to the battlefield of Iraq."
The Plaintiff Attorneys Team consists of 80 lawyers, which constitutes about ten percent of the entire membership of the Nagoya Bar Association. Chief lawyer TAGAWA Keiichi said, "Although I am just one of the plaintiff attorneys, I take the lawsuit seriously as my personal efforts to correct the situation. All the statements in the complaint are written in easy language so that it can be read and understood by ordinary people and that the statements can take root in the heart of those people."
At a meeting after the submission of the complaint, about 100 plaintiffs gathered and expressed their strong opposition to Japan's involvement in war and occupation.
Mr. Kitayama who rushed from Wakayama Prefecture said, "At the time of World War II, I was a schoolchild. I saw the war killing people. Nothing abuses human rights worse than war." A young man from Nagoya, Mr. Ito, said, "I am scared of myself because I might get used to and become indifferent to the ongoing acts of Japanese troops being deployed abroad." Mr. Wada from Osaka said, "We lost our previous cases of the unconstitutionality very quickly. We need a new strategy to prevent the repetition of the similar defeat." A woman of US national came from Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, to appear before the court and said, "To me, this is a trial for the cause of Kure residents although the suit is filed at the Nagoya Court."
Number of Plaintiffs Increasing
The group is receiving 100 or more inquiries and requests to become plaintiffs of the lawsuit everyday. "We highly value the concern and aspiration of all the individuals who have responded to us from all over Japan," said Mr. Ikezumi.
They are contemplating to file the second round of the lawsuit before the end of March. Because of the organizers' deep respect for the different nature of individual wishes and concerns, the group decided not to set up a usual team of plaintiffs. Instead it will launch a loose affiliation of plaintiffs and their attorneys called the "Association to Support Lawsuits to Stop SDF Deployment in Iraq" on February 29.
Prime Minister Koizumi Commits Domestic Penal Offense
A movement to prosecute Prime Minister Koizumi in his penal offense is spreading fast in Japan as soon as it started.
The deployment of the SDF is not only the violation of Article 9 of the constitution but also that of Article 93 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits anyone from preparing to wage a private war against a foreign country.
Article 93 of the Criminal Code stipulates;
"Anyone who has prepared and conspired to wage an act of war privately toward a foreign country shall be punished by the imprisonment of more than three months but less than five years."
The recent deployment of the SDF troops to Iraq is never justifiable either in the eye of the Japanese constitution or the UN Charter. It is illegal all the way and the only name it deserves is a "private war."
Criminal Complaints Spreading from Kansai to Okinawa
The first petition was submitted at the Higashi Osaka Sub-District Public Prosecutors Office on February 18. Henceforth, similar indictments have been filed at District Public Prosecutors Offices in Osaka, Hyogo and Shiga Prefectures as well as that in Okinawa. Accusers are members of the Steering Committee of International Criminal Tribunal for Iraq (ICTI) and of various civic organizations.
Prosecutors' reactions are; "We have never received such a petition. This is our first experience. We just receive it and discuss it with proper authority." (Otsu Prosecutors Office) "We received it as a receptionist, but we have to consult with Special Prosecutor who may take charge of decision about its examination." (Kobe Prosecutors Office) Obviously, local public prosecutors offices are puzzled and confused.
However, it is a legal civic right to lay a criminal charge.
Article 239 of the Criminal Procedure Code stipulates;
"When anybody considers that a crime is committed, he can lay a charge against the offender."
Its Article 261 says;
"When the prosecutor decides not to pursue the matter publicly, he has to explain the reason to the accuser or the petitioner."
"It is our government that has committed illegal acts repeatedly. We are doing the right and lawful thing. If we let the nation know what kind of crimes are being committed presently and in the time to come, maybe the Public Prosecutors Office would start moving." These are the words from one of those who laid a charge against Koizumi at Higashi Osaka Prosecutors Office.