Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  70 minutes
Date:  2006
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English; Japanese / English subtitles
Grade level: 11-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
Closed captioning available
Interactive transcript available
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Japan's Peace Constitution

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Explores the origins of Japan's Constitution in the ashes of war, and the significance of its famous peace clause, Article 9, and the debates surrounding it, in the 21st century.

Japan's Peace Constitution

In 2005, sixty years after the end of World War II, a conservative Japanese government is pressing ahead with plans to revise the nation's constitution and jettison its famous no-war clause, Article 9. This timely, hard-hitting documentary places the ongoing debate over the constitution in an international context: What will revision mean to Japan's neighbors, Korea and China? How has the US-Japan military alliance warped the constitution and Japan's role in the world? How is the unprecedented involvement of Japan's Self-Defense Force in the occupation of Iraq perceived in the Middle East?

Through interviews conducted with leading thinkers around the world, the film explores the origins of the Constitution in the ashes of war, and the significance of its peace clauses in the conflicted times of the early 21st century.

Key interviews include:

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Dower Paris-based social theorist Hidaka Rokuro Beate Sirota Gordon, drafter of the equal-rights clause of the Constitution Political philosopher and activist Douglas Lummis Political scientist Chalmers Johnson Kang Man-Gil, president of Sangji University, South Korea Shin Heisoo, co-representative, Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan Korean historian Han Hong Koo Chinese filmmaker and writer Ban Zhongyi Syrian writer Michel Kilo Lebanese journalist Josef Samaha Linguist and social critic Noam Chomsky

'Evokes courage and provokes thought. It should be seen by all generations.'-Okinawa Times

'Recommended!'-Educational Media Reviews Online

'Powerful!'-Professor Peter Frost, Williams College, for Education About Asia

'Rather than appealing to emotion, it is a film made with faith in human reason.'-Ronza Magazine

'Simply watching it makes one feel you have come closer to a world of peace.'-Ryukyu Shimpo

'The thoughts of those interviewed bring into sharp focus the world's expectations of the absolute pacifism of the Constitution and its significance in the history of humanity.'-Shinano Mainichi


** 2006 Association for Asian Studies Film Festival
** Best Documentary, 2005 Kinema Jumpo Awards
** Best Documentary, 2005 Japan Film PEN Club Awards
** 2005 Yamagata International Documentary Festival


(Opening text)


We, the Japanese people, resolved that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of the government,

do proclaim that sovereign power resides with the people and do firmly establish this Constitution.

            Preamble, the Constitution of Japan


(SDF, antiwar protest images)


(John Dower)

Every war has been waged in the name of self-defense.


(Doulas Lummis)

The right of beliigerency is the right to kill.


(Older man at Henoko)

Bearing arms is not civilized.


(Koizumi speech to the Diet)

To openly call the Self Defense Force


an army that protects our

peace and independence,


I think we ought to change

the Constitution in the future.


(images of SDF, antiwar protests)

(Bush speech on aircraft carrier)

In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.


(Koizumi speech to the Diet)

Japan can’t do this, can’t do that...


(Chalmers Johnson)

Koizumi has to go down as one of the least clever Japanese prime ministers in modern times.


(Hidaka Rokuro)

If we revise Article 9 of the Constitution,


it will freeze relations throughout Asia.


(Noam Chomsky)

I wouldn’t say a move back to the 20th century, it’s just a move towards barbarism.


(No War demonstrations)

(Koizumi press conference)

The will of the state is being questioned.


The spirit of the Japanese is on trial.


Read the Constitution.


(Main Title)

T:         Japan’s Peace Constitution


(John Dower and John Junkerman ascend hill)

T:         Falmouth, Massachusetts


 (John Dower, voice over)

Here I was in the mid-1960’s and I was just beginning to discover Japan. I looked at Asia, and Asia was engulfed in war, an American war in Vietnam, a war which I thought was atrocious.

That’s when I began to wrestle with these issues of war and peace.


T:         John Dower

T:         John Junkerman, director


Particularly as someone who came up seeing another war in Asia, people being devastated in Asia, I had a lot of respect for the Japanese people who cherish those ideals and fought for them and tried to understand them.


(John Dower, interview)

What held together that idealism of the early years, what made that survive over the decades of the ‘50s and ‘60s, was not the Japanese government so much as ordinary Japanese people, a lot of them women or men who had served in the war, remembered the war.


People who remembered what war was really like said “We can’t do this again. We have to cherish these ideals.” The government however was saying “Oh, we’ve got to go along with America.” And so you have this split in Japan.


(John Dower, profile text)


John W. Dower

MIT Professor of History

Author of Pulitzer Prize-winning book

on postwar Japan, Embracing Defeat.


(John Dower, interview)

So despite that ideal that Japan can become a model for a non-militaristic Asia and for non-militaristic solutions, the Japanese governments never produced the statesmen. They never produced the articulate people. They never produced the wherewithal to make the break-- well, you don’t break with America, but you say “we can be a genuinely sovereign great nation.”


Japan’s a great nation. But they never had the courage to speak with their particular voice and articulate those ideas vis a vis the U.S. So the conservatives will now come in and say “Well, we’re not a normal nation. We have to become a normal nation. We have to change the Constitution, have to revise Article 9, have to have-- or recognize that we have-- a military.” And I do think that something has to be done.


Japan does have a military, so changes have to be made. But I’m not impressed by wanting to be a normal nation, because I don’t know what that means. If you want to be normal like the United States, I find that terrifying at this moment in history because America has become a very militaristic society.


(exteriors of Futenma air base)

T:         Futenma USMC Air Station



(Doug Lummis, interview)

The thing that I remember most, or the thing that had the most powerful influence on me at the time, was that being on the base as a Marine, you’re totally cut off from any kind of equal or decent relationship with the people outside the base.


Towards the end of the year that I was here, I began to make a few friends, some university students and some people I met in a coffee shop which was not a shop designed for G.I. business. And was very helpful spiritually or whatever.


But I still they couldn’t forget that I was a Marine. I couldn’t not be an occupying troop. And so when my year here was up, that was also the end of my three years in the Marine Corps. And instead of going back, I got my discharge here. And that was a fateful decision. I’m still here.


(Doug Lummis, profile text)


C. Douglas Lummis

Political theorist

First came to Japan in 1960 as a Marine;

now writes and teaches in Okinawa.


(Doug Lummis, interview)

Then after I got out, I went to Nara and started studying Japanese at a Japanese university. This was 1961, right after the big 1960 uprising. So this was the 1960 Ampo generation of students. I started getting lots and lots of lectures from the students about Article 9 and peace.


College students in 1960 had experienced the war. This was a college in Osaka. And that means that after World War II, Osaka was flat, it was flattened like Tokyo. So they’d seen that. And that’s the first thing they always told me. “We know what war is, and you don’t.” I couldn’t stand people telling me that they knew something I didn’t know, being young and American. But it turns out that they did. They knew something I didn’t know. They experienced a war as children and they knew that they didn’t want to see that ever again.


(Doug Lummis, talk at club)


Japan hasn’t waged war

for over half a century.


It hasn’t fought a war.


I am an American citizen, and

my country has fought war after war.


If you live in America,

war is a fact of life.


It’s just a given.


In Japan, not fighting wars is a given.


There’s an implicit pacifism here.


Peace is taken for granted,

it’s a matter of course.


T:         May 3, 2004

            Shinjuku, Tokyo


Since Article 9 was enacted, until today,


not one person has been killed in

belligerency by a Self Defense Force.


That is the ultimate

purpose of Article 9.


So, in that sense, Article 9

may be battered and beaten, but


it is alive, it’s still succeeding.


Not one person has been killed

in an act of state belligerency.


Japan’s constitution is based on the

principle of popular sovereignty.


Grammatically, the subject is

“We, the Japanese people ....”


It takes the form of an order

from the people to the government.


That’s popular sovereignty.


The government was re-formed and told,

“You can do this, you can’t do that.”


“We give you this authority,

but not that authority.”


That’s what a constitution is. You write

one to restrict the powers of the state.


In the middle of the Constitution,

Article 9 says, “You cannot wage war.”


It’s not, “You should avoid war,”

or “This would be a good idea.”


It’s not a suggestion.


It says, “We do not give the government

the power, the authority to wage war.”



(Hidaka Rokuro interview)

I usually refer to it

as the 15-Year War.


When that war ended in defeat, with

the proclamation on August 15, 1945,


I was 28 years old. I was teaching

sociology at the University of Tokyo.


A call went out

to the university faculty,


to gather at Yasuda Auditorium before

noon, around 11 a.m. on the 15th.


So I listened to the emperor’s

proclamation in Yasuda Auditorium.


(Hidaka Rokuro, profile text)


Hidaka Rokuro

Sociologist, born in China in 1917.

Former University of Tokyo professor,

now lives and writes in Paris.


(Hidaka Rokuro interview)

I personally reached the conclusion

early on that the war was lost.


It was pretty obvious.


Why hadn’t the Japanese government

lifted a finger before the situation


turned into this kind of defeat?


Going back further, why had it

invaded Manchuria to begin with?


That’s how I felt, so I didn’t shed

a tear, the tears just didn’t come.


(John Dower interview)

People at the time said, “One of the real reasons this happened is because Japan wasn’t a democracy. Japan was a militaristic country, was a repressive country. And militaristic leaders were able to take the Japanese people and move them into aggression. And this is what has happened.” 


So, how can we make sure this doesn’t happen again? Japan has to become more democratic. It has to become less militaristic. And they’re related; that democracy and anti-militarism are part of the same thing, they’re not separate.


So there was an idea that to make Japan a country where people had a voice and really had rights and could speak out against militarists and other people seizing the state and moving it in militaristic directions, you had to have a new Constitution. So the Americans came into Japan after the defeat. And they said to the Japanese government, but they said this in public, “You need to change the Meiji Constitution.”


(Hidaka Rokuro interview)

So the Shidehara cabinet

selected a committee,


and appointed Matsumoto Joji

as its chair.


It was called the Constitutional

Problem Investigation Committee.


Nowadays, when people talk about

the need to revise the constitution,


they say that the constitution was

imposed on Japan by the Occupation,


so we need to establish

an “independent constitution.”


But, in fact, Japan did write

an independent constitution.


It was very clearly written as an

independent constitution, it’s a fact.


That independent constitution was

given to the occupation in February.


The draft was delivered in

early February 1946.


But before that, on February 1,

something happened that took


both the government and

the Occupation by surprise.


In a famous press scoop, the Mainichi

printed a copy of the draft constitution.


It was all over the front page.


It was the Mainichi newspaper, and

my family subscribed to the Asahi.


But I happened to go out and I saw

big banners at the Mainichi newsstand.


I bought the paper right away,

and I was shocked when I read it.


“So this is going to be

Japan’s postwar constitution?!”


My father, brother, and I discussed it.

What did the Shidehara cabinet think?


We couldn’t understand their motive

in presenting such a draft constitution.


Did they really think

this was right way to go?


Did they expect the draft

would be rejected in any case?


Or did they know it’d be rejected,

and think that Japan and the US


would then get together

and talk about it jointly?


We really didn’t know.


If they thought it’d be accepted, they

hadn’t read the Potsdam Declaration.


None of the language of Potsdam

was in the draft.


No mention of militarism, or democracy.


There was no mention of freedom of

expression or any other provisions.


(John Dower interview)

And the Americans looked at this, and they said, “The government is never going to give the kind of Constitution it wants.” At that point, General MacArthur came in and he looked at the situation. And he said “We’ve got to go in and give the Japanese a model draft Constitution.”


(Beate Gordon in elevator, VO)

At that time, civilians were

not allowed into occupied Japan.


You had to find work with the military.


So I found a job right away and

returned to Japan in December 1945.


(Beate Gordon, profile text)


Beate Sirota Gordon

Born 1923 in Vienna,  came to Japan at 5.

After college in the US, returned to Japan

as staff for the Occupation.


(Beate Gordon interview)

On February 4, General Whitney,

the chief of the Government Section,


called us together and told us,

“This will be a top-secret meeting.”


T:         Shinjuku, Tokyo


Then he said, “Under orders

from General MacArthur,”


“it is your duty to draft

a new Japanese constitution.”


And it was decided it had

to be done in one week.


Of course, we were

all very surprised.


We never imagined we’d

be given that assignment.


We worked from morning till night.


Of course, it was a big job to

draft a constitution in just one week.


I had worked as a researcher for Time

magazine, so I understood research.


So if I was going to

draft a constitution,


I wanted some reference books.


I jumped in a Jeep and

started looking for libraries.


I wanted to look at other countries’

constitutions, for reference.


I don’t remember at all where we went.


Tokyo was totally devastated.


The Japanese driver found several

libraries, but I don’t know where.


There were hardly any buildings left,

so it must have been difficult.


We found about ten volumes.


The German Weimar constitution

and the Soviet constitution,


several constitutions from

Scandinavian countries.


I brought them all back to our office.


They were in great demand,

everyone wanted to look at them,


the others who were

drafting the constitution,


they wanted to refer to them so

I let everyone borrow the books.


So we read constitutions

from morning till night,


and I was surprised that many

of the European constitutions


not only guaranteed basic rights,


but also included

social welfare rights for women.


The American constitution doesn’t

have these, but European ones did.


I studied these and tried to figure

out what fit with Japanese society.


Japanese women had no

rights at all before the war.


So I wanted to include as many

rights as possible in the constitution,


social welfare rights as well.


But all that remained was the

equal rights clause, Article 24.


I had written two or three pages,

including all kinds of liberties,


but just this little bit remained.


But it has had a good influence

on Japanese society, so I’m pleased.


The steering committee

knew that the Socialist Party


and a group called the

Constitutional Research Association


had also written drafts, and Colonel

Kades and others had seen them.


They got many ideas from

those draft constitutions.



(Hidaka Rokuro interview)

The Constitutional Research

Association ...


was led by Takano Iwasaburo

and Suzuki Yasuzo.


They were very clear.


For example, “The people are equal

before the law; discrimination by


birth or social status is prohibited.”


Or, “The people will not

be subjected to torture.”


They had these clauses in their draft.


And Japan’s constitution

also prohibits torture.


So I imagine that the Occupation

GHQ read this avidly.


They were good concepts.


In conception, it was exactly the

same as today’s Japanese Constitution.


So, two independent

constitutions were drafted.


One was drafted by Matsumoto Joji’s

Investigation Committee.


And the other was this private-sector

draft by the Takano group.



(John Dower interview)

The Americans knew about these other Japanese committees that were coming out with a variety of progressive proposals, so when someone came in and said “Well this is not what the Japanese say,” the Americans would say “Well Matsumoto is the Japanese government. But don’t confuse the conservative Japanese government with the Japanese people. There are many Japanese who are able to think in much more liberal or progressive ways than the government’s committee.” It was a very conservative committee.



(Hidaka Rokuro interview)

When Foreign Minister Yoshida

and others


went to hear GHQ’s response

to the Matsumoto draft,


GHQ had already completed

the American draft.


The Japanese draft was rejected.


GHQ would never accept it,


and the Allied Powers

would clearly reject it.


They were given the

American draft instead.


They say that Yoshida and the others

turned sheet white with shock,


but they took the draft

and began discussing it.



(John Dower interview)

So, it’s true that this is the MacArthur Constitution. But it’s also true that there was a lot of government input, that there was serious debate in the parliament, that there was great public interest, and that there was widespread public support for this.


The question then becomes, What happens to this constitution over time? And of course that brings us to the present moment in which now, today, almost 60 years afterwards, not a word of the constitution has been changed. It’s never been revised. America has nothing to do with that.


And what really happens I think is that over those 60 years, the constitution is debated, but it becomes the Japanese Constitution. It’s Japan’s Constitution. Americans have nothing to do with the fact that it hasn’t been revised.


And in fact, as soon as the Cold War heated up-- The constitution came into effect in 1947, and in fact by 1948 it was clear that China was going to fall to the Communists, and it was clear that the Cold War was heating up. By 1949, you have the Peoples Republic of China established. In 1950, you had the Korean War.


By that time, Americans are saying, “We don’t want a disarmed Japan. We want a Japan that will be re-armed and fighting on our side,” literally fighting in Korea. They really wanted the Japanese to fight with them in Korea. Five years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the end of the war, the Americans want the Japanese re-armed and fighting with them against the Communists.


The Americans want the constitution revised. And they put that pressure on the Japanese from an early date.


(archival film footage of Nixon 1953 visit)


T:         Novermber 1953


(Richard Nixon speech)

If we want peace, during this period of international tension, we must remain militarily stronger.


(VO narration from film)

Vice-president Nixon declared

the Peace Constitution a mistake,


and created a stir by calling for

armed forces to resist Communism.


Having dropped this bombshell,

Nixon left Japan on the 20th,


and the controversy over

remilitarization intensifies.



(Hidaka Rokuro interview)

From the moment that

Article 9 was announced,


in newspapers and

among the general public,


it was greeted positively,

with great sympathy.


In that sense,

the existence of Article 9


strongly influenced

the posture of the general public,


the public’s response to the

Japanese Constitution as a whole.


At the time, Prime Minister Shidehara

really talked about Article 9


with a great deal of pride.

That was only natural.


In fact, MacArthur too had

a deep affection for Article 9,


a sense of pride that he had come up

with the idea in the first place.



(John Dower interview)

I think he believed this was good for Japan and good for the world. MacArthur was a very complex man. He was very conservative and very radical. He was a man of war, but he also, as many men of war do, had a real sense of how precious and fragile peace is, and how horrible war is. Many military men have a profound sense of the horrors of war and how this must be avoided.


But beyond that, what MacArthur understood and what then the Japanese government came to understand is, the world did not trust Japan. The world saw Japan as inherently militaristic. And what MacArthur was saying was, “You can turn this around. You can become a symbol, not of militarism and aggression and repression, but of anti-militarism. And we can put this in a legal form. And it will be accompanied by rights and popular sovereignty. And it’s all one package. And that will be the way for you to earn the respect of the world. And instead of being a model of aggression like Nazi Germany, or other aggressive countries, you can become a model of the way people should go in the future. You can start over, you can embody the highest ideals of a world without war.”


(Archival newsreel footage)

T:         1947


(newsreel VO narration)

In May, the new constitution

came into force.


Comic artist Yokoyama Ryuichi

turned his brush to the theme.


(text in drawing)

“The new constitution eliminates war.”


“The new constitution.”


“Women can run for office.”



(Hidaka Rokuro interview)

In reality, the instant they saw it,

most citizens thought,


“Ah, now we will never have to

experience war again.”


There was a sense of relief, that Japan

had changed. This was very strong.


But in fact, it wasn’t enough for the

Japanese people to take solace in


the provisions of the Constitution,

as welcome as they were.


Article 9 actually had significance

in an international context.


I don’t think the Japanese people

really grasped this at the time.


But internationally, what it meant was

Japan, as the aggressor nation,


made a pledge to the world

about its future conduct,


especially a pledge to

the people of Asia.


And it was received

as such by people in Asia.


At the same time,

there was a deep suspicion,


that even with Article 9 in place,

Japan would remilitarize.


That the Japanese have this tendency.


This strong suspicion was held

by China, Australia, Holland,


and by Britain, and

by America, of course.


That Japan would someday

discard Article 9


and it would rearm.



(archival newsreel, Hatoyama speech)

T:         1952

T:         Future Prime Minister Hatoyama Ichiro


(Hatoyama speech)

The National Police Reserve

that we fund with 180 billion yen--


are they constables or soldiers?


They are an army, after all,


and the constitution

has to be revised.


Thank you, thank you.


(archival footage of SDF training)

T:         1955

            Self-Defense Force Amphibious Landing Exercise


(archival footage of Prime Minister Kishi)

T:         1958

T:         Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke


(Kishi speech)

This is a very serious

issue for Japan,


and to consider it seriously,


we have appointed experts to a

constitutional research committee.


As to whether Article 9 is

a potential subject of revision,


I have responded that Article 9

is also under consideration.


(Doug Lummis interview in museum)

T:         Sakima Art Museum, Okinawa


(Doug Lummis interview)

There’s nothing wrong with a forced Constitution. All good Constitutions are forced on governments. ...Each step towards constitutional government has been achieved through pressuring the government from below. The French Revolution produced the first French Republican Constitution and the American Revolution produced the U.S. Constitution. All good Constitutions are forced in some way, usually by the people.


In the case of the Japanese Constitution, it was forced on the government by a brief alliance, which didn’t last more than a few months, a brief alliance between the occupation forces and the Japanese people. They were an objective  alliance that forced the Japanese government to choke down this Constitution that reduced its power.


So from the standpoint of the people in the government, from then to now, they feel it forced on them. They feel that it limits their power, which it does. But it wasn’t forced on Japan. It wasn’t forced on the people. And it’s only lasted this long because the people have continued to force it on the government.


Of course most people outside of Japan, and increasing number of people inside Japan call Article 9 unrealistic. And they call themselves realists: “We realists understand that although war is a terrible thing, you have to have military power to protect the lives of the people.”


There’s a big trouble with that argument. I agree that it’s important to be realistic. I’m not interested in being anything but realistic when we’re talking about national security, the security of the society. You don’t want to pursue some dream and have a million people killed. You have to be realistic, that’s true.


If you want to be realistic, you’ve got to look at reality. Reality in this case, is the historical record of the 20th century. The 20th century was the century in which this great experiment was done. Let’s set up an international system in which each state has the right of legitimate violence and the right of belligerency and monopolizes that. And, through the balance of power and so forth, each of these states will protect its citizens.


That was the big experiment of the 20th century. What happened? We know the result. More people were killed through violence in the 20th century than any other hundred year period in the history of the world. And who killed all those people? It wasn’t the mafia, it wasn’t the yakuza, it wasn’t gangs, it wasn’t drug wars, it was the state. The state killed over 200 million people.


So having huge military power, in fact, doesn’t make you safer. And that’s one thing you don’t need to explain to Okinawan people. Because in Okinawa, they have no historical memory ever of a military group here bringing safety to the people. The more the military has been here, the more dangerous it has been for Okinawans.


(close-ups of painting)

T:         “The Battle of Okinawa” by Maruki Iri and Maruki Toshi


(Doug Lummis interview)

The battle of Okinawa came here, not because of anything the Okinawans did, it was because there were Japanese bases here. And Japanese bases did not make the Okinawans any safer. Now there’s U.S. bases here. If the U.S. gets involved in a war in Asia, the bases in Okinawa will be legitimate targets for the enemy that the U.S. has chosen. Missiles could come here. There’s nothing about those bases that makes things safer.



(Henoko exteriors)

T:         Henoko, Okinawa

T:         Proposed site of a US

            military helicopter base          


(Henoko protester interview, older woman)

About 8 years ago, I was thinking

I could live here in peace,


when the helicopter base

issue came up.


A base is a tool to be used in war.


I’ve been fighting so that we would

never again allow war to take place.


I experienced that bitterness, I’m a

survivor, so I must sustain that cause.


We old folks will stop it, even if

it means sacrificing ourselves.


T:         June 14, 2004

            Day 57 of the opposition sit-in


(Henoko protester interview, older man)

Having seen the Battle of Okinawa,

we cannot pass that cruel tragedy on


to the next generations,

our children and grandchildren.


Peace is not something that

simply flows in with the times.


Peace has to be sustained and

passed on to future generations.


That’s the job of people

who live in the present world.


(Henoko protester interview, young man)

One of the keys to the Constitution

is the idea


that rights are “maintained by the

constant endeavor of the people.”


Rights are not simply enjoyed,

they don’t just exist at birth


People have to respond to unjust acts

of the state, the suspension of rights,


through constant effort, to fight

the building of bases, for example,


and resist the war

policies of state power.


What we’re doing here is putting into

practice that “constant endeavor.”


(Henoko protester interview, middle-aged man)

It’s corruption, not revision

of the Constitution.


To take a country that renounced war

back to war, is inexcusable.


Are you American? The French and

all foreigners look the same to me.


To just do America’s bidding, to join

the US in sending troops to Iraq ...


to join in a UN military force,

it’s outrageous.


It can’t be allowed.


America’s Bush is a dangerous man.


On a world scale today, Bush is

the supreme commander of terrorism.


(Koizumi speech to the Diet)

You claim the Bush administration

is a danger--


what will become of

Japanese-American friendship?


Just tell me that!


(archival footage of past presidents and PMs)


(Nakasone VO)

It was, “Hi, Ron” and “Hi, Yasu.”


(Koizumi press conference)

America is an ally of Japan,


and I believe Japan must be

a trusted ally of America.


(Armitage press conference)

T:         Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State)


I’ve used the analogy, perhaps some people laugh at me when I do, I use the analogy of a baseball game. It’s time for Japan to get out of the stands and come down and take one of the nine positions on the field.


(San Diego harbor)

T:         San Diego, California

T:         Home port of the US 3rd Fleet


T:         San Diego Book Fair


(Book Fair MC)

Please join me in welcoming Professor Chalmers Johnson.



(Chalmers Johnson talk)

According to the Pentagon’s annual inventory of real estate, its so-called “Base Structure Report,” we have over 725 military bases in some 132 countries around the world.


By the way, no American, unless you actually lived next door to one of them, can imagine what this entails. There are no foreign military bases in the United States. There are 38 on the island of Okinawa, for example, where revolt against the bases has been endemic for 50 years.


This vast network of American bases constitutes a new form of empire, an empire of military enclaves rather than of colonies as in older forms of imperialism.


(Chalmers Johnson profile)

Chalmers Johnson

Political scientist.

Former University of California professor,

now president of the Japan Policy Research Institute.


(Chalmers Johnson interview)

In 1996 Governor Ota Masahide of Okinawa invited me to come to Okinawa and discuss the incident that had occurred in September the previous year when two Marines and a sailor abducted, beat and raped a 12 year-old girl. This led to the largest anti-American demonstration in Japan since the security treaty had been signed.


I was truly shocked by the impact of 38 American military bases on a very small island with 1,300,000 people living cheek by jowl with the Third Marine Division.


As I began to do research, however, on the over 700 American bases in other peoples’ countries, which is the subject of my new book, I began to realize that “No, Okinawa was not exceptional. It was typical, I’m sorry to say.” And that then led me into this whole study of the base world, of an empire of military bases.


Many Americans believe that the rest of the world sees us through our music or our popular culture or Hollywood films. The truth of the matter is, the rest of the world sees us through heavily armed members of the special forces. Whether they have any contact with them or not, they can’t avoid the conclusion that the United States prefers to deal with the rest of the world through military force.



(Bush press conference)

T:         US President George Bush


We will continue this war on terror, until the killers are brought to justice, and we will prevail.



(Bush, dogs and Koizumi)


(Chalmers Johnson interview)

If you want to go along with American military policy around the world, and the kind of megalomania you get from the neoconservatives in the Pentagon, then indeed the litmus test, the acid test for George Bush was “Will you support me in Iraq?”


He puts that to Koizumi. And Koizumi, like the proper little cocker spaniel, comes up with something illegal, worthless, and likely to cause lasting resentment throughout the Islamic world against Japan by this token dispatch of troops to Iraq. It is as good an example as I can think of of a genuine mistake in international affairs.


This will be damaging to Japan. It will be damaging in other ways though, given the fact that the Constitution, whether it should be reformed or not, has not yet been reformed, [and the dispatch of troops to Iraq] strongly suggests that the claim of the rule of law in Japan is spurious. The government of Japan seemed indifferent to the moral commitments put into its highest law. And for nothing. It is perfectly obvious today that the United States has only two choices in Iraq. That is, one, to get out while it can or be thrown out.


(Koizumi speech to Diet)

T:         October 5, 2001


To assert the right to

collective self defense,


we’d change the constitution.


But the time is not ripe

for changing the constitution.


So we’re exploring, using all our wits,


the gaps between the Preamble

and Article 9 of the Constitution,


and relying on the wisdom

of the Diet members,


we’re deciding what

Japan is able to do.


(news footage of the SDF sendoff)

T:         January 16, 2004

            Sendoff of SDF Troops to Iraq


(exteriors of Damascus)

T:         Damascus, Syria

T:         Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp


(street interview 1)

They should withdraw.


There’s no problem with

humanitarian aid,


but we oppose troops

in support of the US.


(street interview 2)

Ordinary civilians will suffer.


Innocent children will suffer.


(street interview 3)

I agree entirely.


Peace and safety!


That’s what matters.


We have no use for violence or terror,

we don’t want war.


(street interview 4)

Japan has suffered more from war

than any other country,


because America dropped

atomic bombs on it.


So it shouldn’t send troops

to resolve conflict.


That will only make

orphans of children.


I’m sure the Japanese people

don’t want that to happen.


(Michel Kilo interview)

The SDF occupation

violates world law.


If they came under a UN resolution,

the Iraqis would welcome them,


but it was a decision of the US.


With no lawful government in place,


in a country where the US

appoints the government,


that occupation is not

based on international law.


(Michel Kilo profile text)

Michel Kilo

Syrian writer.

Jaile 3 years for opposition activity,

a leader of Damascus Spring in 2000.


(Michel Kilo interview)

Article 9 is a precious clause,

Japan should maintain it.


It should take the path of peace,

and not return to militarism.


For Japan’s sake, for our sake,

for all humankind,


violence shouldn’t be used to

resolve international problems.


Humanity is all one, so

we should help each other,


and resolve problems with fraternity,

peace, and progress.


(exteriors of Beirut)

T:         Beirut, Lebanon


(Josef Samaha interview)

The issue of the troop dispatch


can’t be understood without looking

at the broader Iraqi situation.


Japan may say “This is a legal

UN-sanctioned humanitarian action,”


“We won’t get involved

in armed conflict.”


But the tendency

throughout the Middle East


is to strongly oppose the occupation

of Iraq by foreign militaries.


(Josef Samaha profile text)


Josef Samaha

Editor, Al-Safir newspaper, Beirut.

Founded Al-Yaum Al-Sabeh,

a pan-Arab magazine, in Paris in 1980.


(Josef Samaha interview)

On the Constitution, Japan first

needs to talk to its neighbors.


A painful history


is shared by Japan

and its neighbors.


The influence of the Cold War

remains in the Far East


more than anyplace in the world.


And it’s still felt intensely today,


for example, on the Korean Peninsula,


and between China and Taiwan.


A fragile balance is maintained.


So wisdom must be exercised,

and talks continually held


so as to reassure the other countries.


The solemn pledge Japan made

after reflecting on the experience of war--


“We will never use our military

against another country again.”


--this needs to be reaffirmed.


This is not just an issue

that concerns the Far East.


It’s a pressing issue for

the future of the entire world.


(Chalmers Johnson interview)

Japan has long been criticized for not having apologized for its aggression during World War II, certainly not in the way that post-war Germany did. ...I’ve always felt, and I first arrived in Japan in 1953 when these issues were still very much alive, that the Japanese did apologize. The apology was Article 9.


It was a statement to the rest of East Asia: “You have no reason in the future ever to fear Japanese military behavior of the sort that occurred during the 1930’s and 1940’s because we have now formally, publicly, legally renounced the use of armed force except as a final resort in our own self-defense.”


To formally renounce Article 9 is to renounce the apology, and I believe to re-open for the entire world of China, for people of Chinese ancestry throughout Southeast Asia, for the Koreans, the issue of “Did Japan ever really apologize, does it ever really understand the weight of war crimes on it.”


(Hidaka Rokuro interview)

I believe that we, as Japanese,


need to understand the feelings,

the heart of the Asian people better.


After all, in the Fifteen Year War,

some 20 million people died.


In small villages and towns--


the Nanking Massacre

always gets a lot of attention,


but we need to know what took place

in small towns and small villages.


Of course, the soldiers who

went to war know this,


and they confessed . . .

or told about it after the war.


But what the Chinese people felt

back then gives me great pain.


(exteriors of Hong Kong)

T:         Hong Kong, China


(Ban Zhongyi profile text)

Writer and documentary filmmaker.

Long involved in researching sexual

victims of the former Japanese Army.


(testimony of Chinese woman in Ban footage)

I saw the village chief drag Hou Dong-E off


and I saw him hit her in the face.


Hou Dong-E was a girl older than me

and I called her “big sister.”


She was taken to the Japanese Army

 camp and raped by the captain.


She got sick and was sent home.


I was raped after that.

I was confined for five months.


(Ban Zhongyi interview)

In China, most people

know stories like this one,


because they broadcast these

accounts on radio and TV.


Everyone knows about the war

crimes committed in China


by the former Japanese Army--

rape, slaughter, arson, etc.


I was born and raised in Fushun,

in Liaoningsheng Province.


Beginning in grade school, my friends

and I often went to Pingdingshan.


There is a memorial there for fallen

comrades, with tall stone monuments.


There was an incident here in 1932,

after Japan set up Manchukuo.


Chinese guerrillas destroyed a railway

Japan had built to a coal mine,


and the Japanese Army

attacked a village in revenge.


That was Pingdingshan.


They say 3000 villagers were killed,


and only four people survived.


I grew up hearing this story,


so I assumed that Japanese

knew about it too.


But, in fact,


they had never even heard

the name Pingdingshan.


I wondered why the Japanese didn’t

know about such a major war crime,


but this is the Japanese

perception of the war.


They stubbornly hide

uncomfortable truths from the past.


I was surprised and

it made me angry.


There is a saying in China

that you must take revenge,


 so there’s enmity toward Japanese.


But we also say, “Kill someone,

and all that falls is his head.”


In other words, “You may hate an

enemy, but if he apologizes, forgive.”


There’s this tradition and

value system in China.


But the Japanese do

just the opposite.


They don’t apologize for misdeeds.


They put a lid on crimes,

feign innocence.


Not only do they refuse to apologize,


they claim China is making this up.


That just fans anti-Japanese

sentiment in China.


(Seoul exteriors)

T:         Seoul, Korea

T:         Urijip (Our Home)


(Interview with former “comfort woman” 1)

If the Japanese are really

human just like us,


they’d know from a cut on

their finger about another’s pain.


Liberation came 60 years ago,


and I watched everyone celebrate,

clap their hands with joy,


while I desperately tried to hide.


I worried they’d learn

I had been a comfort woman,


and I was terrified.


Until I was past 70, I couldn’t

even tell my children.


There was no way I could,

so I kept it hidden.


It was so mortifying.


If there were many people who suffered

like this among the Japanese,


would you keep quiet

and let the matter drop?


We are all the same. . .


(Interview with former “comfort woman” 2)

If we’d done something wrong,

that’d be one thing . . .


but we can’t die in peace,

with things as they are.


We were born as human beings,


but the disgrace--


we couldn’t tell our families,

there was such shame.


We spent our lives,

frantic to hide it.


It’s society’s problem . . .


But I’m not saying the

Japanese people are bad.


It was the world at

that time that was wrong.


That’s why we must make a stand.


(scenes of Wednesday demonstration)

T:         December 1, 2004

            Protest at the Japanese Embassy

T:         Continuous for 13 years,

            today is the 634th weekly demonstration.


(Interview with Shin Heisoo)

In the 13 years we’ve been

holding the demonstrations,


the women themselves

have changed considerably.


At first, some feared

having their picture taken,


and covered their faces with sheets

of paper during the demonstration.


None of them do that anymore.


They’ve come to realize they have

no reason to blame themselves,


it was Japan that was wrong.


(Shin Heisoo, profile text)


Shin Heisoo

Representative, Korean Council.

Active in Korean and international

women’s and human rights efforts.


(Interview with Shin Heisoo)

Some of the women

still have nightmares.


One of them finds it

impossible to sleep alone,


and always has to

have someone nearby.


A few months ago,


the incident at Abu Ghraib prison

was reported in the press,


where US soldiers took Iraqi POWs,


stripped them naked

and tortured them.


Seeing these reports in

the papers and on TV,


one of the women was unable to sleep.


It reminded her of how she

had been stripped and raped.


She went to a demonstration against

sending Korean soldiers to Iraq,


and she told that story.


So you see, the aftereffects


are not limited to physical scars.


Terrible psychological scars

from the intense trauma


clearly remain to this day.


(Wednesday demonstration, speaker and crowd chant)

Japan must apologize as the

international commission directed!


Apologize! Apologize!


Japan must halt its

remilitarization and


cooperate in peaceful

reunification of Korea!


Cooperate! Cooperate!


(Seoul exteriors)

(university exteriors)

T:         Sungkonghoe University, Seoul


(Interview with Han Hong Koo)

Whether the Japan

that started the war


has truly broken with its past

has remained unresolved.


The doubts of Asian countries

have been barely kept in check


because of Article 9

of the Constitution.


As long as Article 9 is in force,


the mistrust of Japan

has been abated,


but the very structure of that

constitution is now crumbling.


(Han Hong Koo, profile text)


Han Hong Koo

Historian. A leader of the

campaign for a Korean peace museum,

his history of the ROK was a best-seller.


(Interview with Han Hong Koo)

If Japan’s constitution collapses,


it will lead to military buildup by

both Koreas, China and Russia.


Even if, after revision, the SDF


is defined as “an army

for self defense,”


the psychological effect will be


to push other countries

to expand their militaries.


Korean youth, just like the

younger generation in Japan,


don’t know much about history

and they’re susceptible to


government-led campaigns

for nationalist expansion.


For example, just as a Japanese

hostage was killed in Iraq,


a Korean hostage was

killed in Iraq last June.


While some urged a peaceful

response to the incident,


others responded more aggressively:


“This is an affront to the pride

of the Korean Republic!”


“We should send troops

and smash the insurgents!”


What is needed in

the present situation


is for young Koreans and

Japanese to join forces


to nurture peaceful

sensibilities together.


Not the stance, “to make war

with a strong military,” but


to have a peaceful

sensibility is essential.


That is the only force that can

restrain militarism and prevent war.


(university exteriors)

T:         Sangji University,

            near the 38th parallel


(interview with Kang Man-Gil)

Japan has raised the military

threat from North Korea


as a justification for

its remilitarization.


But nobody believes North Korea,

as impoverished as it is,


presents any threat to attack Japan.


(Kang Man-Gil, profile text)


Kang Man-Gil

President, Sangji University.

The dean of Korean historians; active in

academic exchanges with North Korea.


(interview with Kang Man-Gil)

North-south relations in Korea

are on the road to reconciliation,


that’s a Korean problem

that has to be settled


through dialogue between

North and South Korea.


If Japan resumes its place

as one East Asian nation,


and if China can grow economically

without seeking hegemony,


we can build a peaceful,

regional alliance like the EU.


That’s what is needed

in East Asia today.


In 21st century East Asia,


people increasingly wonder why

we can’t maintain peace on our own.


Why do we depend on the US

to keep peace in East Asia?


Can’t East Asians maintain

peace by ourselves?


That doubt has been spreading.


It’s a matter of East Asia

sovereignty and pride.


East Asia will be able to maintain

peace through its own efforts.


(exteriors of Boston)

T:         Boston, Massachusetts


(interview with Noam Chomsky)

[Japan] can be normal the way it was in the 1930s, for example. It was a normal power in te 1930s: brutal, violent, overflowing with lovely rhetoric about the earthly paradise that they were going to bring to the people of Asia if they can only protect them from the Chinese bandits.Yeah, that’s normal, unfortunately. Genghis Khan was normal, too.


(Noam Chomsky, profile text)


Noam Chomsky

Linguist and political theorist.

Since the Vietnam War, a leading critic

of US foreign policy and militarism.


(interview with Noam Chomsky)

There have been attempts, particularly in the 20th century, to move beyond the savagery and violence and destructiveness of much of history. Largely because it came to be recognized that humans have constructed means of violence so immense that any war involving major powers is going to mean the end of species.


The UN charter was an effort to give some formal structure to a world of peaceful states that would not have the right to resort to force or even the threat of force in the international affairs. And that is the framework of modern international law. The UN charter opens by saying that we want to save humanity from the curse of war, words to that effect.


That sets a reasonable standard for the use of force. And it certainly hasn’t been adhered to. The US is in fact extreme in refusal to adhere to it. But it is a standard that the population of the world should impose on their own states. It should force them to adhere to it. And Japan is unfortunately moving away from that.


Japan is caught up in that matrix of [American] power. It can’t avoid it. It can make choices within it. Very different choices.



(interview with John Dower)

T:         John Dower

What has maintaining that Constitution done for Japan? And I think it has done many good things for Japan. If you look at the post-war world, Japan for 60 years has not been an aggressive power. It has not exacerbated violence in Asia. It has been more trusted by many people because it did not pursue a military path. The problem with what Japan has done in the post-war world is that by adhering to that policy, it has become totally subordinate to American policy. It has just followed along with American policy and it’s lost its sense of real sovereignty, and that’s the problem.


(interview with Chalmers Johnson)

T:         Chalmers Johnson

I believe they ought to be more proud of their Constitution. Though without question, its inspiration was in the American occupation, it became very deeply nationalized in Japan beginning in the 1950’s in the form of Japan’s genuine anti-war sentiment.


I do not see the advantage to Japan of becoming a normal power if they mean one with a couple of aircraft carriers, nuclear weapons, cruise missiles and a munitions industry. Moreover, they will never be a serious military power because, as we know, they simply don’t have the manpower to really staff an army again. And that is one of the most pleasant remarks I’ve made all afternoon.


(interview with Ban Zhongyi)

T:         Ban Zhongyi


I think Article 9 is an

extremely noble provision.


It’s like a treasure that was

given to humankind by God.


Now Japan is going to change the

constitution it maintained for years.


The older generation that knows

the pain of war is passing away,


and the younger

generations know nothing.


They are planning to revise Article 9


and revert to the

nationalism of the past.


This is a foolish and extremely

dangerous thing to do.


Defending Article 9 is not

just for the Japanese.


It is the urgent responsibility

of all of humanity.


(interview with Hidaka Rokuro)

T:         Hidaka Rokuro

I think Article 9 should be spread,


aggressively, on a popular level,

to all the people of the world.


And, first of all, to

the people of Asia,


the message should be sent that

many Japanese believe in this.


Constitution revision

isn’t a domestic problem.


It’s an international,

especially an Asian problem.


That’s the most important thing.


(interview with Beate Gordon)

T:         Beate Sirota Gordon


If there’s another war, no one

will emerge as the victor.


Winners and losers will all

be devastated in the same way.


Peace is the most important, most

serious problem in the world today.


It would wonderful if Japan

could become a leader of peace.


End Credits


Directed and edited by John Junkerman

Conceived and produced by Yamagami Tetsujiro

Camera by Otsu Koshiro

Additional camera by Kurihara Akira, Stephen McCarthy, Boyd Estus, Mark Schulze

Sound mixed by Tanabe Nobumichi

Assistant editor Kageyama Jiro

Production manager Sasaki Masaaki

Associate producers Ogawa Mayu and Ishida Yuko

Assistant producers Furuyama Yoko, Inoue Masahiro, Osanai Fumiko

Location coordinators Kang Haejung, Ban Zhongyi, Lo Po-yee

Translations by Furuyama Yoko, Yang Yonghi, Osone Mariko, Najib El-Khash, Mori Shintaro, Kamiya Niji, Matsumoto Kaoru

English subtitles by John Junkerman

Music by Soul Flower Union

Beyond the Flames (from "Shalom! Salaam!" [BM tunes])

Caravan Love Song (from "Screwball Comedy" [Respect Record])

Levelers Song (from Soul Flower Mononoke Summit, "Levelers Ching Dong" [Respect Record])

Vietnamese Gospel (from "All Quiet on the Far Eastern Front?" [BM tunes])

Free Balloon (from "Love Plus/Minus Zero" [BM tunes])

Thanks to Nakagawa Takashi, Umezu Kazutoki,  breast Music Publishing, Respect Record

Sound studio Kyoei

Art by Nara Yoshitomo (“Missing in Action–Girl Meets Boy,” collection of Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art)

Archival footage provided by NHK, APTN, C-Net, 9LOVE

Archival photographs provided by Mainichi Shimbunsha, AP/WWP, Diego Martinez Carulla, Danny Sleator, Cynthia Cockburn

Interviewees (in order of appearance) John W. Dower, C. Douglas Lummis, Hidaka Rokuro, Beate Sirota Gordon, Chalmers Johnson, Michel Kilo, Josef Samaha, Ban Zhongyi, Shin Heisoo, Han Hong Koo, Kang Man-Gil, Noam Chomsky

Thanks to Sato Makoto, Hata Takeshi, Gavan McCormack, Anthony Arnove, Mark Selden, Elijah Wald, Michal Goldman, Maya Lummis, Wong Lap Kwong, Lee Kwai, Tsui Yuet-ching, Jason Liu, Maggie Lee, Soma Masao, Daishima Haruhiko, Takada Takamitsu, Oka Kunitoshi, Gebhardt Hielscher, Ho Chun-yan, Jonathan Schell, The People of Henoko Village, The Women of Urijip, Sakima Art Museum, Okinawa Article 9 Federation, Seinen Gekijo, The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Slavery by Japan, World Peace Now, Peace Boat, Mulberry Studio, Foil


Produced by Siglo, Ltd. (Tokyo) © 2005


©2005 Siglo


Main credits

Junkerman, John (film director)
Junkerman, John (film editor)
Yamagami, Tetsujir̄o (film producer)

Other credits

Camera, Otsu Koshiro [and 4 others]; music, Soul Flower Union.

Distributor credits

Yamagami Tetsujiro

John Junkerman

Yamagami Tetsujiro
John Junkerman
Music by Soul Flower Union

Docuseek2 subjects

Conflict Resolution
U.S. History
World History
Law and Legal Studies
Politics and Political Science
World War II
World War II (US)

Distributor subjects

Conflict Resolution
East Asia
History (U.S.)
History (World)
Political Science
World War II


World War II; WWII; Japan; peace; no war clause; Article 9; conservative Japanese government; conservative; Korea; China; US-Japan military alliance; Self-Defense Force; Iraq; Pulitzer Prize; John Dower; Hidaka Rokuro; Beate Sirota Gordon; Douglas Lummis; Chalmers Johnson; Kang Man-Gil; Sangji University; South Korea; Shin Heisoo; Korean Council for Women Military Sexual Slavery by Japan; Han Hong Koo; Ban Zhongyi; Michel Kilo; Josef Samaha; Noam Chomsky; film; video; documentary; dvd; ; ; ; "Japan's Peace Constitution"; Icarus Films

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