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Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution

  May 19, 2020

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution

What does Art.9 say?

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is a clause in the national Constitution of Japan outlawing war as a means to settle international disputes involving the state. In its text, the state formally renounces the sovereign right of belligerency and aims at an international peace based on justice and order. The article also states that, to accomplish these aims, armed forces with war potential will not be maintained.

It also forbids Japan from maintaining an army, navy or air force. Therefore, in strictly legal terms, the Self Defense Forces are not land, sea or air forces, but are extensions of the national police force. This has had broad implications for foreign, security and defense policy.

This clause was written and imposed by the United States.

However, Japan maintains de facto armed forces, referred to as the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

Did Japan reinterpret the Article?

In 2014, Japanese government approved a reinterpretation which gave more powers to the Japan Self-Defense Forces, allowing them to defend other allies in case of war being declared upon them. It means, Japanese armed forces will go to defend allies.  The stated justification was that failing to defend or support an ally would weaken alliances and endanger Japan.


While pacifists want SDF to continue, nationalists assert that Japan should remilitarize and build nuclear capabilities in order to regain pride and independence. Following factors have influenced the nationalists:

1. Japan’s global role has increased with a 5.5 USD economy and it needs to be defended

2. China factor and the threats emanating from it

3. China and Russia are becoming closer

4. North Korea acquired nuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them

5. US is retreating from global role

6. Allies expect japan to fill the vacuum left by the US