Rethinking the Constitution: An Anthology of Japanese Opinion

By Kenpo Project 2004, translated by Fred Uleman

For over 65 years, people have been arguing about Japan’s Constitution. Yet for most of this time, the calls for revision were rejected as covert efforts to revive the wartime military and other state structures. More recently, the calls have been broadened and repackaged, and the focus shifted to the prerequisite referendum stipulated in Article 96. It was in that atmosphere that Kodansha collected the views of dozens of influential people and published them as Nihon no Kenpo: Kokumin Shuken no Ronten — which might be roughly translated as “discussing the Constitution assuming the people are sovereign.” Strident politicians have been heard, but what about the rest of us, this book asks — and answers.

Now available in English translation as Rethinking the Constitution: An Anthology of Japanese Opinion, this wide-ranging compendium of short essays by well- and not-so-well-known opinion leaders from all walks of life is intended to inform non-Japanese opinion by demonstrating the diversity of Japanese opinion. Politicians, pundits, entertainers, businesspeople, NGO leaders, academics, and more: they are all here. These are some of the people who will influence the final decision — a decision that the people will have to make in a national referendum voting on whatever draft ultimately comes out of the Diet.

Former Diet member Kunihiro Masao called it “a very objective survey of what Japanese are actually saying and thinking about their Constitution.” MacArthur’s Japanese Constitution author Inoue Kyoko termed it an “impressive collection” and “a valuable service.” And former FCCJ president Robert Neff classed it “must reading for anyone interested in Japan’s quest to change its Constitution.”

Primary resource material on the issues involved and the players’ priorities, this informative work is available both online and directly from Japan Research (Japan Research’s price being jpy1,500/copy, shipping included).