The Peace Clause

Amy Woolam Echeverria
February 24, 2013
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.” (Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution)

On Friday, February 22, 2013, while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dined with President Obama at the White House, a small group of peace activists gathered to call for a preservation of Japan’s Article 9, popularly known as “The Peace Clause” including: Columbans, Pax Christi USA, the D.C.’s Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, and Network for Okinawa.

We were also joined by a visiting Japanese professor at American University whose academic work focuses on the importance of Article 9 not only for Japan but for the world.  He described the Peace Clause as being “written by humanity”.

During the vigil, a letter sent by Bishop Marcellinus Daiji Tani of the Saitama Diocese and Chairman of Japan’s Catholic Council for Justice and Peace to the President of Pax Christi USA, was read aloud.  He appealed to both President Obama and the people of the United States when he said, “We ask you to support and work with us…We believe that peace cannot be achieved by military force.  We believe that only through patient dialogue which is open to diversity, justice, equality, and mutual respect is peace made possible”.

As we prayed for the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; for an end to all wars, the use of nuclear weapons and drones, we sang, God forgive us for the wrong we’ve done, God forgive us now.  It is unlikely that our gathering caught the attention of Prime Minister Abe and President Obama during their talks.   With gates and security aplenty, our song could not penetrate the walls of the political elite.   But, for those of us standing on the sidewalk, our hearts were inflamed with love and strength to continue on singing and chanting for a peaceful world.

To learn more about Japan’s Article 9 and to Take Action, visit Pax Christi USA.