Mitsunobu Ichiro SJ (Director, Jesuit Social Center, Tokyo)
This year’s Advent season started with riots occasioned by the strong-arm tactics used to pass the contentious “State Secrets Bill.”
Thanks to that, I ended up again this year participating every evening in public demonstrations in front of the Diet, as I have been accustomed to do in the month of December for seven years, ever since 2006. At that time the “Basic Education Law” was changed and, as a result, the orientation of Japan’s education which had aimed at building up the individual person was contorted into a subordinated nationalistic priority. The Prime Minister at the time was also Abe Shinzo.
The strong-arm tactics used to pass the “State Secrets Bill” can be seen as the preamble to what is expected next, the “Basic National Security Law,” in a package of legislation that goes along with the establishment of the “National Security Council” (NSC) which has already been passed by this current Diet. Preceding this, an open implementation of the “Collective Self-Defense Right,” painting it over with a newly devised interpretation of the Constitution, is already in the works, as well as a real bit-by-bit dismantling of article 9 of the Constitution.
In other words, state military control is being solidified so as to give greater priority to the Japan-US military alliance than to the Japanese Constitution. In accordance with this legislation, intelligence information concerning Okinawa, nuclear energy, and American and self-defense military bases will increasingly be kept secret. It is possible that Japan might be caught up in American military conflicts. The people’s right to know could not only be curtailed but perhaps people could be suddenly arrested without reason. The enforced passage of the “State Secrets Bill” could thus be seen as trampling upon the “supremacy of the people,” “pacifism,” and the “recognition of basic Human Rights”—the three main pillars of the Japanese Constitution.
But, on the other hand, quick public opposition to such legislation is increasingly gaining ground and, in observing the public demonstrations in front of the Diet, I do not have any feelings of having been defeated, as I did seven years ago. Learning from my experiences of participating in Friday evening demonstrations for de-nuclearization after the Fukushima disaster, I think that people now express their views more freely and have become able to engage in public appeals.
The strong-arm passage of the secrets bills was as tyrannical as their content, but one cannot believe that this type of despotic politics will continue further in the same way. Citizens are truly angry. People shout loudly, “Abe Shinzo be ashamed of yourself!” “Rise up. We won’t give up!” “The Abe Administration has started to crumble. The beginning of democracy has dawned!”
Christmas… One dark night, the Eternal God came silently into our world in the form of a defenseless innocent naked baby.
The figure of the baby Jesus offering his human life and looking up to heaven is the figure of Jesus entrusting his whole self to eternal love and total freedom. This shows the possibility of not being restrained under any form. Such an infant is our hope and our light.
Let’s pray for peace during Christmas in unison with the bells that ring out their peaceful peals, so that our country and children around the world will be able to sleep peacefully like the infant Jesus, and that our society may be able to smile.