Report: Constitutional Amendment and Gender

Shūhei Ōtsubo
Undergraduate Student, ICU

【This piece of writing, which is available only online, has been written in relation to the article entitled "Constitutional Amendment and Gender" contributed by Ms. Noriko Ishida to the seventh issues of our newsletter.】

“Gender Perspectives on Constitutional Amendment,” a lecture by Ms. Noriko Ishida, was held at International Christian University (ICU), on 23rd September, 2006. Since ICU does not have a Law Faculty, this was a rare opportunity for its students to not only consider Constitutional amendment from a gender perspective, but also to learn about the issue from a specialist in Law. The supplementary handouts and detailed explanations made the lecture accessible to those who are not familiar with Law.

The lecture aimed to clarify the meanings and possible consequences of the amendments. Ms Ishida compared the present Constitution and the new draft proposed by the Liberal Democratic Party, focusing particularly on issues pertaining to Articles 9 and 24.

Ms Ishida insisted that meaning of Article 9, the renunciation of war, will be transformed through the revision of Section 2, from renouncing the use of force altogether to allowing the use of force for self-defense. As we can see from historical experience, the 1928 Paris Treaty (for the Renunciation of War) could not prevent the outbreak of the Second World War - thus, pacifism cannot be maintained only by Section 1 of Article 9. Renunciation of force is significant for the preservation of peace.

Article 24, on the other hand, will not be amended according to the new draft Constitution. However, Ms Ishida pointed out that there have been many calls for the article to be revised so that it will include a division of gender roles. As an example, she cited a report of the Research Committee for the Constitution in the House of Representatives. Ms. Ishida argued that the revision of Article 24 will promote militarism in Japan from the grass roots. For a military system, the separation of gender roles is essential in effectively integrating force. Thus, by strengthening a social structure in which the household is a base from which the men fight outside with the women behind them in support, the minds of the people will become more uniform. This will generate a social condition which will allow for the easy execution of war. Ms Ishida claimed that the amendments of Articles 9 and 24 are “both wheels of a car,” which will promote Japanese re-armament. In other words, we cannot maintain pacifism without both articles.

Amidst the many calls today for the revision of the Constitution, I felt that Ms. Ishida’s lecture which re-examined the movement from a gender perspective was well-timed. Until this lecture, I never realized that there is a strong correlation between gender and Constitutional amendment. Constitutional amendment can transform gender values from the grass-roots level and even promote militarism. Due to the gradual nature of this process, it is not easily perceptible and often escapes our awareness. In order to maintain pacifism, we must be more aware of gender values and of calls for Constitutional amendment I will continue to follow the debate over the Consitution through questioning the meaning of the revisions and their possible effect on our daily lives.