Sheila A. Smith

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Colum. J. Asian L.


Article 9 has been the focus of legislative debate since Japanese leaders concluded the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1952, ending the U.S. Occupation of their country. Conservatives and progressives alike sought to consider what this new constitution meant for Japan’s postwar defenses, and how it was to be translated into a rearmament policy. Until a new law was passed to create the Self Defense Force in 1954, these Diet debates offer a fascinating window on the effort to define what Article 9 meant, and the issues that provoked contention among political parties.

Most of the critical questions regarding how to interpret Article 9 emerged in the first Diet debates of 1952-54 over the creation of Japan’s postwar military. Even though the war was still fresh in the minds of most Japanese, Diet members had to consider how best to provide for the country’s defenses as the Korean War ushered in a new era of major power competition, this time cleaved by an ideological clash between socialism and capitalism. Japan’s politicians also had to confront the reality, so amply demonstrated at the end of World War II, that they had to do so in an era of nuclear weapons.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.