Japan’s Catholic bishops slam Kishida’s rearmament plans as unconstitutional and dangerous

The Justice and Peace Commission calls on the government to drop its three new security documents, which would enable Japan to hit enemy bases in a counterattack. The bishops also oppose raising defence spending to 2 per cent, which effective declares “Japan's military superpower status”. They urge the government to seek “peace through diplomacy based on the Preamble and Article 9 of the Japanese constitution”.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan has come out openly against the three security documents announced recently by the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida whereby Japan would develop the capability to hit enemy bases in a counterattack.

In a statement released by the Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), Japan’s Catholic bishops express their opposition to a decision that “abandons the conventional basic policy of an exclusively defence-oriented posture under Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, and marks a complete shift making Japan a military superpower.”

The message, signed by JPC chairman Bishop Wayne Francis Berndt of Naha and JCP secretary Bishop Edgar Cacutan of Sendai, notes that such an important decision was made by government decree, bypassing the Diet, the Japanese parliament, and is thus “an outrageous act that ignores democracy and should not be tolerated”.

For the bishops, developing a capability to attack enemy bases is nothing more than a "threat of force" expressly prohibited by Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.

In addition, spending 43 trillion yen (US$ 315 billion) and boosting military spending to 2 per cent of GDP by 2027, almost double the current level, means "declaring Japan's military superpower status”.

The Justice and Peace Commission is also concerned about using civilian ports and airports for military use and directing scientific and technological research to develop new weapons.

The JPC goes on to mention the deployment of long-range missiles on the Nansei Islands, the closest to Taiwan, and the risk that the residents will be sacrificed like those in Okinawa.

Finally, the statement cites Pope Francis, who, during his meeting with Japanese leaders in 2019, said: “History teaches us that conflicts and misunderstandings between peoples and nations can find valid solutions only through dialogue, the only weapon worthy of man and capable of ensuring lasting peace.”

For the JCP, “The path Japan should follow is one of peace through diplomacy based on the Preamble and Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, playing a role in creating a framework for peace that resolves disputes through dialogue.”

Hence the bishops urge the government to withdraw the three security documents and "clearly show" Japan's commitment to peace.