The author, Ito Makoto, an expert guru on the Japanese Constitution, examines the adequacy of the Liberal Democrats’ draft, comparing it with the present Constitution. Reading this book gives the reader an understanding of constitutional theory, which holds that the country exists to defend the dignity of each individual and the freedom of its people. A constitution regulates the national authority’s obligation to safeguard human rights. Individual dignity is made the basic value of the nation. I feel especially that the principles that pay absolute consideration to the weak and minority groups are extremely valuable.
The present Japanese Constitution was based on this sort of constitutional theory and, although many have the impression that it was imposed by the GHP, in fact representatives of the people chosen in a general election participated in the discussions and added corrections to the original text.
By way of contrast, the Liberal Democrats’ recent draft tends to value “people” more than concrete individuals, “families” more than people, and the “nation” more than families. In other words, in the final analysis, the nation should be defended and the impression is given that people have an obligation towards the nation. According to the Constitution now in force, the role of the nation is to defend the freedom of each individual, something basically compatible with the principles of constitutional theory. The draft offered to revise the Constitution is not an amendment. It is rather a scheme to establish a new system with the nation at the center and thus provide a basis for the government’s plan to spare no pain to go to war for the nation.
This book makes one aware that the issue of constitutional amendment is either about establishing Japan as a nation where people are the main actors or else making it into a hero nation. I realized that the unavoidable issue in question was the whereabouts of the Japanese people themselves.
(Yamamoto Keisuke, staff member of Tokyo Jesuit Social Center)