The Guardian 30 April, 2008

Japanese High Court
rules against Iraq involvement

The Nagoya High Court in Japan has ruled that there are unconstitutional aspects in the Air Self-Defence Force (ASDF) activities in Iraq. The court said that Iraq is in a state of armed conflict, and thus the ASDF’s airlifting mission there is an act "integral to foreign countries’ use of force", which runs counter to Clause 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution that prohibits Japan from participating in wars.

The ruling also said, "The ASDF’s airlift missions in support of the multinational force should be regarded as an act integral with US forces’ military activities. The ASDF cannot deny exercising military force."

However, although the high court said that the ASDF activities in Iraq are illegal, it stopped short of confirming that the deployment of Self-Defence Force (SDF) units per se is unconstitutional.

The Japanese Constitution’s Article 9 stipulates: "Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes."

In a published statement the 1,122 plaintiffs’ lawyers welcomed the ruling as epoch-making and the most excellent in the history of constitutional politics. They urged the Japanese government to "pull the SDF out of Iraq without delay based on the Nagoya High Court ruling."

Similar lawsuits have been filed in ten other courts throughout Japan by a total of 5,700 plaintiffs together with more than 800 lawyers.

The Japanese government summarily dismissed the ruling. Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo said, "I will not be affected by the court decision."

Japan’s Foreign Minister said "There is no need to pay much attention to it. I will just read it when I have some free time after leaving the Foreign Ministry."

The Japanese Communist Party weekly newspaper, Akahata, said in its Editorial: "How arrogant it is for the government to dismiss the court ruling that the airlift missions runs counter to Article 9 of the Constitution, trampling upon the principles of a law-governed country.

"Now that the high court ruling recognised that the plaintiffs’ opposition to sending SDF units to Iraq and their call for an immediate withdrawal of SDF troops from Iraq is a legitimate demand based on the Constitution, the government must respect this ruling.

"The judge stated that the right to live in peace should be recognised by law as a concrete right of the citizens instead of a mere ideal. This has an important bearing on the future struggle of the citizenry.

"We will be able to meet the people’s wish for peace only by isolating the government which insists on sending troops to Iraq, to get Air SDF units withdrawn and prevent the enactment of a permanent law that is aimed at sending more SDF troops abroad."

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