From WEEKLY MDS No.886, May 6, 2005 issue


Spread the Non-Defended Localities Movement to All Corners of Japan and the World

The 21st century has come after two world wars and the nearly 50-year-long "cold war." At the start of the new century, the expectation grew that finally in the new century we would be able to create an age of peaceful coexistence of all mankind. However, 9/11, the subsequent attacks on Afghanistan by US and UK forces and the Iraq War shattered the hope and wish for peace among peoples of the world. Thus, the Bush administration of the U.S.A. launched a "new war" under the pretexts of "war on terror," "action against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, " and so on. US President Bush went ahead with the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq while feeding the public his argument that the existing international law should not be applicable to "international terrorists" or "outlaw or rogue nations" in an effort to justify preemptive attacks. However, the Afghan government was not responsible for 9/11. No weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, and the ties between the Hussein administration and terrorists were not proven, either. It was obvious that the war he was planning would be an outrageous war against international law and would constitute war crimes. Despite that, the war was launched, and as a result, hundreds of thousands of innocent people were killed, wounded or deprived of their assets. In Afghanistan and in Iraq, they say the war has helped promote the process of "democratization," which is a completely deceptive account of the real state. People at large are still under servitude, in need and in fear, just as ever.

Now, what we should never overlook is the fact that Japan is supporting these unlawful wars and effectively participating in them. The Constitution of Japan provides as follows; "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" and "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized." We must take to heart the fact that Japan under such Constitution has given support to the wars started by the US and the UK, and moreover, it has stood to the side with the forces that attack and kill the Afghan and Iraqi peoples. The Koizumi cabinet is trying to transform Japan into "a nation that wages war." In order to achieve that goal, the Japanese government has been developing an emergency law system in preparation for possible war while escalating the status of troop dispatch operations to a standing mission of the Self-Defense Forces (Japanese troops). Promoters of the Civilian "Protection" Law say that the law aims to "protect the Japanese people" in a national emergency. In reality, however, it is nothing but a law that mobilizes local public entities, public institutions and the people for war, incorporating them in "a war mechanism" so that they can be utilized to enhance "behind-the-lines protection." Just like the series of "Protection" laws enforced in Japan before World War II, the current Civilian "Protection" Law is not designed to protect the people.

After all, the only way to protect lives and assets of the people from war is to eliminate war itself. The human race has been accumulating efforts to hold war illegal in a form of anti-war agreements such as the Pact of Paris of 1928. Meanwhile, efforts have been made to develop international humanitarian law in order to minimize wartime damage on soldiers and civilians. All such previous efforts have been consolidated in the achievement including the Charter of the United Nations of 1945, the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 with 1977 Protocols Additional to the Conventions, and the 2003 establishment of the International Criminal Court as a permanent institution for war crime trials. However, the US government has been turning away from this development of international law, trampling upon it and trying to make the trend toward illegalization of war go backward. The Japanese government is also trying to throw away the spirit of the pacifist Constitution while seeking a place among nations that can wage war. Peace under the rule of law is now endangered and the rule of superpower's force is about to be restored. For the peoples of the world, today's mission is to block this reactionary move and to create a path toward peace and coexistence of all mankind.

With the recognition of the development and achievement of international humanitarian law, in order to protect residents of respective localities from the risk of war, and also to protect lives and assets of civilians in case of war, we are now calling for effort to spread the Non-Defended Localities movement to all corners of Japan and the world. This movement is based on the Article 59 of the Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions that provides for protection of civilians under international conflicts. Article 59 stipulates as follows; "It is prohibited for the Parties to the conflict to attack, by any means whatsoever, non-defended localities," and "The appropriate authorities of a Party to the conflict may declare as a non-defended locality any inhabited place near or in a zone where armed forces are in contact which is open for occupation by an adverse Party." It sets out the following four conditions for a locality to satisfy before declaring itself as non-defended:

  • all combatants, as well as mobile weapons and mobile military equipment must have been evacuated;
  • no hostile use shall be made of fixed military installations or establishments;
  • no acts of hostility shall be committed by the authorities or by the population; and
  • no activities in support of military operations shall be undertaken.

In a word, a non-defended locality is an area that will not be engaged in war and that does not cooperate for war. Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions thus allows local communities and residents to withdraw from war, aiming to protect civilians under international conflicts. Based upon the above provisions, we will pursue elimination of factors leading to war from the communities where we reside. Here, we call for efforts to stop the trend toward war and to build the power of peace great enough to prevent the power of the state from executing the right of belligerency, through peacetime declaration as a non-defended locality.

This movement is to be promoted in conjunction with efforts to solve international conflicts peacefully, without allowing them to develop into military conflicts or war, and also along with activities to realize apology and reparation for the damage incurred during the past war, to denounce war crimes and to have persons responsible for the past war crimes punished under law. In Japan, we should promote this movement as integral part of efforts to realize the essential of the Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan through its effective application to the reality.

In order to develop the Non-Defended Localities movement throughout all corners of Japan and the world, let us stand hand in hand in our efforts to convey the significance of the movement and achieve the goal in each locality.

April 2005

Signatories to this appeal:
  • IKEDA Kayoko (translator of German literature)
  • UEHARA Hiroko (Mayor of the City of Kunitachi)
  • KAWADA Etsuko (Ex-member of the House of Representatives)
  • SAITO Takao (journalist)
  • SAWANO Yoshikazu (professor, Osaka University of Economics and Law)
  • TSUCHIYA Koken (lawyer and ex-President of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations)
  • NARUMI Akiko (lawyer)
  • FIJINAGA Nobuyo (Representative of Citizens' Network in Osaka)
  • HENNA Jotoku (Chairman of the Kansai District Group of Yomitan Villagers)
  • MAEDA Akira (professor, Tokyo Zokei University)
  • MATSUURA Goro (Catholic bishop)
  • MATSUMOTO Takeo (lawyer)
  • YAMAUCHI Tokushin (Yamauchi Institute of Peace Constitution and Municipality Affairs)
  • YAMAUCHI Toshihiro (professor, Ryukoku University)
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