Genealogy of three Principles of the Constitution of Japan: Sovereignty of the people, Fundamental Human Rights, and Pacifism

Speaker: Masahiro Nakano (Visiting Professor Aoyama Gakuin University)

In Japan, as the consequences of the election of the House of Councilors (参議院) in 2016, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP: 自民党), Komeito (公明党) and some of their followers won two-thirds of the seats in both of the House of Representatives (衆議院) and the House of Councilors, and they are going to initiate the amendment of the current Constitution of Japan according to its Article 96.

The constitutional amendment has been the earnest wish of the LDP and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, because they firmly believe that it was “imposed” by the US government when Japan lost the WWII. This recognition is actually NOT appropriate, but nowadays even the ordinary people in Japan also seems to share it.

In order to discuss possible amendments of the Constitution, at least, we must share the basic and precise knowledge. This presentation intends to trace and clarify the roots of the ideas of Japanese Constitution, focusing namely its three principles: (1) sovereignty of the people, (2) fundamental human rights, and (3) pacifism. And finally, I would like to briefly mention E. Herbert Norman, Canadian diplomat/scholar in Japanese studies, who played an important role at the end of the WWII in this context, introducing the precious documents the UBC library owns.

Event poster