Japanese Bishops Slam Dangerous National ‘Military Superpower Status’

The decision to boost the Japanese military budget without parliament’s approval is unconstitutional and undemocratic, prelates say.

Newsroom (30/12/2022 7:55 PM, Gaudium Press)  Japan’s Catholic bishops have asked Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to withdraw three key documents which seek rearmament and a major overhaul of the nation’s defence strategies.

The Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan has termed the government’s plan to boost the nation’s defence budget “unconstitutional and dangerous.”

“The decision to create the ‘three security documents’ effectively abandons the conventional basic policy of an exclusively defense-oriented policy under Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution and marks a complete shift to make Japan a military superpower,” the commission said in a statement on Dec. 21.

“Moreover, the fact that such a serious decision was made by a cabinet decision without careful deliberation by the Diet [national parliament] and the sovereign people is an outrageous act that ignores democracy and should not be tolerated,” the statement read.

According to a strategic plan document, which Prime Minister Fumio Kishida unveiled this month, Japan will set aside more than US$320 billion (2% of its GDP) to build up its military in the next five years.

The cabinet, led by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), also approved two other documents — the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy — on Dc. 16 that would enable Japan to launch counterstrikes under specific circumstances.

The bishops’ commission urged the Kishida government to withdraw the three documents.

Their statement came amid fears that Japan was moving away from its pacifist constitution, which prevents it from acquiring counterstrike capability.

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The strategic plan includes upgrading Japanese-made weapons and buying at least 400 US-made long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The bishops said the government’s decision is undemocratic as it was made through a decree, bypassing parliament.

Spending 2 percent of its GDP on defence will put Japan on par with NATO member states.

Kishida became the first Japanese prime minister to take part in a NATO meeting held in June.

He said the new move was taken up due to regional threats and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The bishops said boosting the military budget to 2 percent of GDP by 2027 means “declaring Japan’s military superpower status.”

Acquiring the capability to attack enemy bases is nothing more than a “threat of force,” banned under the constitution, their statement said.

The bishops’ commission also decried the plan to use civilian ports and airports for military purposes and direct scientific and technological resources to produce new weapons.

Quoting Pope Francis’ words during his papal visit to Japan in 2019, the commission noted: “The path Japan should follow is that of peace through diplomacy based on the Preamble and Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, playing a role in creating a framework for peace that resolves disputes through dialogue.” 

  • Raju Hasmukh with files from UCAn News

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