12/22/2015, 00.00
JAPAN
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Hundreds of Lawyers to challenge Shinzo Abe’s “warmongering” reforms

About 300 lawyers are set to challenge Japan’s new security laws in court. Prime Minister Abe’s reinterpretation of Article 9 of the constitution would enable Japan’s Self-Defence Forces to operate beyond the country’s territory and in situations that are not strictly self-defence. The decision to go to court "was also inspired by the Church,” a Catholic source told AsiaNews. For him, “Japan must remain a land of peace."

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – A group of 300 lawyers said that they would file lawsuits with district courts across the country, arguing that the newly enacted security laws violate the Constitution.

The legal experts argue that changes to Article 9, which bans war as a tool of foreign policy, could make the country “a terrorism target” or get it “involved in a war on a daily basis”. They are steadfast that the latter should not happen.

Imposed by the US government after the war, the contentious article requires the country to have only self-defence forces.

Backed by a large majority in parliament, the Abe government had originally approved changes to Article 9 in July 2014 to give a broader interpretation to the right to self-defence.

In May of this year, the various parties that make up Japan’s coalition government gave the green light to the changes.

Despite strong opposition, including that of the Catholic Church, the lower house approved the amendments in July, followed in September by the upper house.

Lawsuits against the controversial security laws are set to start in March 2016, when the constitutional amendments come into force.

Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, a former chief justice of the Supreme Court and the country’s religious leaders are among those who want to see the changes repealed.

The decision to go to court "was also inspired by the Church,” a Catholic source told AsiaNews. For the latter, “Japan must remain a land of peace."

For Mgr Taiji Katsuya, president of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, "Democracy is not only a question of numbers. If that were the case, then the concept of parliament as 'place for debate' would be meaningless.”

What is more, “The Japanese are not convinced by these laws. This is why their voice of protest was strongly heard during the approval process."

The current administration "has rammed through unconstitutional laws. This threatens the parliamentary system and popular sovereignty in violation of Article 99 of the Constitution, which requires the government respect the fundamental law. Consequently, this administration is not worthy of being called a government."

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