The talk today was awesome. It gave me several new insights, particularly into the interaction between the Japanese judiciary and the government and to the various civil rights movements occurring within Japan. It’s also heartening to know that there are people within Japan who are interested in addressing difficult issues of reconciliation and apologizing for World War II atrocities. The extent and significance of the movement was however not verbalized.
Professor Camaroff’s lecture also brought up several thought provoking and excellent questions of where mankind was on today and was a sad reflection not so much of Japan as it was the imperial aspirations of the United States. In the Japanese context, Article 9 could theoretically have been one of the most enlightened writings in the constitution, signifying a progressive society based on “positive human behavior.” The fact that this ideal has been compromised in the face of political gain is unfortunately all too prevalent (Singapore being another example also). To expand this further, the need to organize protect our ideals in the face of outside pressure is more urgent than ever.
Nonetheless, while we argue for the preservation of the right to peace, it feels easy to overlook the basis for which the government (who presumably, and as suggested at the court, control the courts) has ceded this right to peace in return for other benefits. Yes, these rights are important, but the question of how much one should give up for one’s ideals, or perhaps what’s the benefit from sacrificing this ideal, is ignored in the process. The question of why the government has done as such is not answered. After all, being in the good books of an economic superpower like America can have tremendous benefits and politics is often an issue of compromise, which runs against the absolute nature of these ideals we verbalize. Perhaps the question we have to reflect on is if the decision was worth it. This is not to say that the actions in Japan were justified, but rather the question we need to if the decision made is in the country’s best interests not just as a human rights issue but as a governing issue.