View Full Version : Would anyone like to dicuss THE CONSTITUTION OF JAPAN?
11-25-2000, 11:26 PM
As a student of the Japanese people and Japanese culture, I find the CONSTITUTION OF JAPAN to be very interesting document. An odd mixture of two culures America and Japan. I heard some very interesting arguments that contend it is not taken seriously by the Japanese people because of it's Western influence. Articles 13 and 14 of the CONSTITUTION are good examples. Many people in Japan say they experience various types of discrimination. They say these two Articles work or conflict against the national psyche and Japanese culture. Any thoughts?
11-25-2000, 11:51 PM
For an English version of the Japanese constitution, see http://home.ntt.com/japan/constitution/english-Constitution.html
Article 1 represents a profound change from the Meiji Restoration.
Article 9 seems to have been taken to heart -- when the North Koreans recently fired some missiles near a Japanese destroyer, the Japanese captain radioed headquarters for advice; in 1937, the local commander sank a US warship (USS PANAY) simply because he could.
Regarding Articles 13 and 14 (plus 24 and 26), Japanese women seem to have taken the bit about equal rights under the law fairly seriously. The Iranians and other recent immigrants are also clamoring fairly hard.
Article 15 is a major change from the 1930s, as is Article 19. (Even the Gestapo never had a Thought Police.)
Article 36 did not exist pre-1946.
Article 44 allows women, Koreans, and Iranians to be elected.
So I will argue that the changes are fairly significant. Admittedly some (many) people resist change, but others run toward it, and the balance they achieve between themselves is sometimes termed, for want of a better word, democracy.
11-26-2000, 12:40 AM
Very interest point and perspective. I would say the Japanese culture appetite for the Western culture, rather then politics, is what really makes changes that lead to democracy. Though wasn't Western values and ideals put upon the Japanese? I don't think it was anything they intented to to embrace.
Let's hope they don't go too far with the western democracy thing. It's bad enough we have changed. Our next president wasn't elected into office, but rather sued for it. The new age of corporate democracy, and consumer politics. Something I am sure the framers didn't see happening.
11-26-2000, 04:55 AM
Dubious elections have been part of American politics from the beginning. The word gerrymandering, for example, dates to 1812, when Elbridge Gerry reorganized election districts during the Massachusetts gubenatorial races. So no matter what we do, I doubt that the old boys would be too shocked. And furthermore, the Republic will undoubtedly survive.
As for Japanese embracing Western ideas and values, note that the Japanese embraced many all by themselves. The battlecruiser Kongo, for example, was built by Vickers Armstrong during 1914-1915, while the Toyama Military Academy adopted boxing and rugby ca. 1924-1925. Baseball became popular before 1890, but from 1939-1945 was supplanted by Nazi Strength through Joy. The Communist Party survived major pograms (MacArthur hated the Communists almost as badly as the Japanese industrialists, so they agreed there), and socialism remains strong in some sectors of Japanese society.
So which country's specific "Western" values are we talking about, and when do these values, some of which have been in Japan for generations, quit being "Western" and start becoming "Uniquely Japanese"?
11-26-2000, 04:08 PM
Now I don't claim to be a historian, but American politics and the way we elect the president have always been interesting. I just laugh to think what would the framers would have done if they had the vision of the currently impotent electoral college and two (so called) presidential candidates suing each other for the office. Maybe the framers would have chucked the whole thing. Then Gen. MacArthur would have just ruled Japan as Shogun.
Fair enough reply to this broad statement, "Though wasn't Western values and ideals put upon the Japanese? I don't think it was anything they intended to to embrace." I guess, I deserve the lengthy correction. My blunder for lack of specifics.
Indeed, there where Western influences ( more curious then cultural absorption ) on Japan for centuries. But, these were not significant upon the whole of Japanese culture. Nor changed it as had Gen. MacArthur. In the broad scope of things it wasn't until Gen.MacArthur forced "tweaked" the whole Japanese culture with American ideals. I think it is at this point we can start discussing Western influences on Japan as a whole. Here I cite the CONSTITUTION OF JAPAN, which is clearly influenced by the American Constitution.
This is very interesting to me because American ideals are clearly evident. Ideals quite foreign to the Japanese culture which they must observe. The American ideals and thought are extremely contrasting to traditional Japanese thought at time of inception. I would think any culture would resist foreign cultural influences that would so heavily be impregnated into their culture like American ideals have been in Japan. I think Japan does, but not so evidently. This may be the reason for all the incidents your cited. I don't think the Japanese culture is too deeply westernized. I will say ornamented and it follows a international model of modernization that is dominated by western practices, but it is not westernized to the bone. At least not yet.
I apologize for the lenghty discourse.
11-26-2000, 04:13 PM
About three or four months ago, the Japanese highest court opened it's doors for a day to Tokyo school children. NHK news showed some of the young Japanese sitting in the main court room asking the guide questions. What was special about this the announcer said, was that the kids were shown the main court room which is used only in cases in which the court must decide if the constitution has been violated. Guess how many cases are heard per year in this court room? On the average, 3.
That is what NHK said.
11-26-2000, 11:58 PM
Try "Incomplete Revolutions and Not So Alien Transplants:
The Japanese Constitution and Human Rights," by Sylvia Brown Hamano, *University of Pennyslvania Journal of Constitutional Law", 1:3 (Spring 1999)
A theme of this document is:
"Far from being brought by the American occupying forces, notions of democracy and human rights had been percolating inside Japan for generations, growing out of both Confucian and western sources. The occupation forces briefly tipped the balance in favor of the minority tradition of democracy and human rights only to reverse course and come down firmly on the side of the prewar conservatives committed to authoritarian rule. Supported by the United States government, the conservatives and their successors have ruled--by what is often characterized as the iron fist in the velvet glove--almost without intermission until the present."
11-27-2000, 12:40 PM
Two questions :
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Joseph Svinth
[B]As for Japanese embracing Western ideas and values, note that the Japanese embraced many all by themselves.
YAMANTAKA : Sometimes, it seems to me that the main point in the transformations imposed by US on Japan was not democracy(since the US supported the most conservative and authoritarian groups in Japan) but capitalism (open space for american enterprise). What do you think?
"The Communist Party survived major pograms (MacArthur hated the Communists almost as badly as the Japanese industrialists, so they agreed there), and socialism remains strong in some sectors of Japanese society."
YAMANTAKA : I heard somewhere that there was an enormous killing of japanese communists, if I'm not mistaken after the war. Do you know anything about that?
11-28-2000, 02:07 AM
1. "Free trade" was what the US government wanted from Japan in 1854. However, they have yet to get it. Nevertheless, is capitalism an American idea? After all, the Chinese were capitalists when Europeans were still vikings and peasants, and much of the unrest that led to the Meiji Restoration came from Japan's mercantile classes wanting more power. Furthermore, the capitalism ultimately adopted was as much Japanese as German: think the zaibatsu. http://www.bartleby.com/65/za/zaibatsu.html , http://vikingphoenix.com/public/JapanIncorporated/postwar/zaibatsu.htm
2. While there were some very public executions of Communists before WWII, and while some prominent Communists conveniently joined the 10-20,000 people (mostly Korean) murdered following the 1923 Tokyo earthquake, I believe that the Imperial Japanese usually put Communists in jail rather than on the gallows. http://burn.ucsd.edu/~acf/ace/japchap2.html
For Japan's post-WWII repression of Communists, see http://burn.ucsd.edu/~acf/ace/japchap3.html . As I read it, there was a serious purge, but the purged were not executed, simply fired and their families publicly embarrassed. (Not unlike McCarthy in America, if you think about it.)
As for executions, since 1945 the Japanese have officially executed 584 people. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/news/nation-world/html98/altdeth24_20000724.html
[Edited by Joseph Svinth on 11-28-2000 at 03:09 AM]
11-28-2000, 06:04 AM
You're the Marianas Trench Data Bank of Information!
Thank you very much. I'll have food for thought for quite some time.
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