The Constitution

Japan: What are you doing?

Me: Reading your constitution.

Japan: A good read. Why are you doing that?

Me: Well, I heard that some people want to change it.

Japan: Not exactly. My right wing government wants to reinterpret part of it.

Me: Reinterpret? Which bit?

Japan: Article 9. The Renunciation of War.

Me: Hang on. Let me find it. “The Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes”.

Japan: Yeah, that bit.

Me: There doesn’t appear to be much room in there for reinterpretation.

Japan: I agree that it would take quite a linguistic and cognitive leap to think that bit means “War is OK now” but the right wing fellas keep blowing off steam about helping our allies.

Me: Who are they?

Japan: The USA’s foreign policy and anybody who doesn’t like China.

Me: So why don’t they just make an amendment to the constitution?

Japan: See Article 96.

Me: “Amendments to this constitution shall be initiated by the Diet, through a concurring vote of two-thirds or more of all members of each house and shall thereupon be submitted to the people for ratification which shall require the affirmative vote of a majority of all votes cast.”

Japan: See the problem?

Me: The bit about it being submitted to the people for ratification?

Japan: People are nice aren’t they?

Me: Right, yeah, I generally find most people have a natural aversion to death and war.

Japan: So far 1.6 million people have signed a petition against the possibility of the government claiming that “War is OK now”.

Me: A petition?

Japan: See Article 16.

Me: “Every person shall have the right of peaceful petition for the redress of damage, for the removal of public officials, for the enactment, repeal or amendments of laws ordinances or regulations.”

Japan: See. People are nice.

Me: So, your media must be all over this story.

Japan: Oh yeah, but they aren’t only reporting the right wing government view.

Me: OK.

Japan: So, at least one politician actually stated that mass media should be punished if they make erroneous reports about the reinterpretation of the constitution and that companies should voluntarily refrain from advertising with media that report the “wrong information”.

Me: “Article 11: people shall not be prevented from enjoying any of the fundamental human rights.”

Japan: Yep.

Me: “Article 21: Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed.”

Japan: Right.

Me: Hmmm. So, can I have a go at this reinterpretation thing?

Japan: What?

Me: Here. Look. Article 45 and 46.

Japan: “The term of office of members of the House of Representatives shall be four years” and “the term of members of the House of Councillors shall be six years.” What’s wrong?

Me: Well, they shouldn’t even be in office. The old governments should still be in power.

Japan: …?

Me: I’m thinking in dog years. Just a reinterpretation.

Japan: Are you saying my law makers are animals?

Me: Or the term of office is now 337.2 years.

Japan: Eh?

Me: If you think of it as four years on Uranus.

Japan: Shall we do a predictable arse joke?

Me: I’m just reinterpreting the constitution.

Japan: Well…

Me: How about this one? Article 49.

Japan: “Members of both Houses shall receive appropriate annual payment from the national treasury.”

Me: And how much debt is your treasury currently in?

Japan: About one quadrillion yen. Approximately ten trillion US dollars.

Me: So, what would be an appropriate amount for the treasury to pay them?

Japan: Well, er…

Me: I guess it depends on the interpretation of the word “appropriate” doesn’t it?

Japan: Yeah, look, none of this matters anyway.

Me: Why?

Japan: Look down at the bottom.

Me: “Article 99. The Emperor or the Regent as well as Ministers of State, members of the Diet, judges, and all other public officials have the obligation to respect and uphold this constitution.”

Japan: Yep.

Me: So…But…Does that mean it’s unconstitutional to reinterpret the constitution?

Japan: …

Me: …?

Japan: I guess that’s open to interpretation.

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July 15, 2015. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.