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Saturday, Feb. 5, 2005

Article 9 changes could threaten regional security: NGOs

Staff writer

Japan should not revise the war-renouncing provision of Article 9 in its Constitution, East Asian nongovernmental organizations told a news conference in Tokyo on Friday.

The NGOs -- representing Japan, South Korea, mainland China, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Russia -- said that by changing Article 9, Japan would open the door to militarization. The provision is fundamental in preventing armed conflict in the region.

There has been increasing support among lawmakers to change the Constitution, and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the opposition Democratic Party of Japan are presently drafting revisions to Article 9.

Lee Jae Young, a member of the South Korean NGO Korea Anabaptist Center, said that the people of North and South Korea are concerned about any attempt to amend Article 9 due to Japan's past colonization of the Korean Peninsula.

Changes would be seen as a real threat by Japan's neighbors, according to Lee.

The news conference was held by East Asian citizens' groups that have joined an international initiative of NGOs that will submit recommendations to the United Nations on conflict prevention.

The NGOs' proposals for the U.N. -- also released Friday -- say Article 9 has contained militarism in Japan and is key to maintaining peace in the region.

"We all agree that Article 9 is not just a idealistic concept but an effective mechanism that prevents conflict in the region," according to Tatsuya Yoshioka, director of Japan-based Peace Boat.

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The Japan Times

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