From WEEKLY MDS No.938, June 2, 2006 issue logo

Localities in Metropolitan Tokyo Area Start Deliberation on Ordinance in Sequence / Significance of Non-Defended Localities Movement Increasing

Localities in Metropolitan Tokyo Area Start Deliberation on Ordinance in Sequence / Significance of Non-Defended Localities Movement Increasing

Signatures dramatically exceed statutory requirement

Direct petition campaigns for enactment of a Non-defended Locality (pro-peace) ordinance being waged in the Tokyo metropolitan area are creating great resonance, attracting signatures in numbers significantly exceeding the statutory requirement. On April 22, citizens of the City of Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, submitted a direct petition for a Non-defended Locality ordinance with 11,119 valid signatures, 1.5 times as many as required by law, causing deliberation on the ordinance to be put on the agenda of the regular session of the city's assembly starting on June 7. In the City of Hino, Tokyo, the number of signatures exceeded twice the statutory number, and in the City of Kunitachi, four times. In Ota ward, Tokyo, the number of signature collected also exceeded the statutory number.

This movement to create an opportunity for residents to directly execute their right to peace under the Constitution of Japan is attracting great expectation as represented in responses introduced in articles in "Voices of the Town," the newsletter of the group of Ota ward, including, "This signature campaign is a movement to embody Article 9 of the Constitution in our community," and "Without residents' efforts like this initiative for a pro-peace ordinance, we cannot make our society better."

Emerging opposition against measures under "Civilian Protection" Law

Why is the Non-defended Localities movement attracting attention and local residents' expectation now?

Currently, municipal-level "resident protection manuals" are being drawn up. The evacuation manual included in the "model for municipal resident protection manuals" prepared by the Fire Defense Agency (released in January 2006) are filled with jokes like " In case of a ballistic missile attack, disseminate instructions to all residents to seek shelter indoors, or to stay behind some shielding objects." Moreover, the "Considerations for Evacuation Guidance" section publicly makes it clear that residents must be protected "70% by self-help, 20% by mutual help, and 10% by public help" and that "there is a certain limit to what public services can do." This is tantamount to the authorities' declaration that they have no intention to protect residents' lives. On the other hand, an example of the Tokyo metropolitan government shows how they are trying to organize residents into a war-supporting system under the premises of residents protection, using measures like "joint drills implemented in cooperation with the national and municipal faculties under the assumption that a large-scale terrorist attack has broken up."

At the level of national politics, the ruling parties decided to submit the national referendum bill to the current Diet session, looking to prepare a way to constitutional changes. Their objective is go ahead with coup d'etat-like re-building of the nation's framework in negation of basic human rights under the name of "public interest" and for promoting war policies, as indicated in the Liberal Democratic Party's new constitution draft.

As the "residents protection" planning develops into specific shapes under the war policy line driven by the Koizumi administration, a sense of crisis is creeping among residents that the state will not protect their lives and that we cannot conserve peace or human rights unless we have a say. That is the factor behind the emerging support for the Non-defended Localities movement.

Non-defended Localities movement blocking war

Going back to our fundamental basis, the Constitution of Japan stipulates that we the Japanese renounce war and we will never maintain any war potential whatsoever. Then, to declare itself a non-defended state is what Japan should do under the Constitution. On the contrary, however, the Japanese government, in negligence of the Constitution, has continued to enhance the military named "Self-Defense Forces" and even dispatched troops to Iraq as part of occupation forces. Furthermore, the government is poised to throw away as much as three trillion yen (US$ 26 billion) for the US military transformation/realignment in order to enhance the Japan-US joint system ready for pre-emptive attacks.

We could never counter today's coup d'edat-like offense toward a new constitution merely by calling out a slogan "Defend (the provisions of) Article 9" that have been miserably stomped on. The provisions of Article 9 represent the very spirit of international humanitarian law including the Geneva Conventions aiming to illegalize war. As the state has committing negligence of its duty, it is the people's legitimate right to demand local authorities to enact a Non-defended Locality ordinance; local authorities should naturally be deemed as "the appropriate authorities" designated in the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions.

The Non-defended Localities movement is the way to the realization of Article 9 and the source of contemporary might that can block the war policy line and the new constitution attack. (May 21)

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