Proposition One


It was 1987 when we first became actively involved with Japanese peace activists. Gensuikyo had launched a "Peace Wave" - at 7:30 a.m. on August 6th, across the planet, one after the other as time zones changed, people gathered indoors and out to speak and pray about Hiroshima. We'd been staging special events in Washington DC during Hiroshima/Nagasaki week for several years, and wrote the Peace Wave organizers that we would incorporate a Peace Wave action. Our follow-up report of the action was published in the Peace Wave news magazine, a remarkable short-lived publication which awakened lonely little enclaves of anti-nuclear activism around the world to the fact that we were not alone.

In 1990 Norio Okada of Akahata wrote a story about Proposition One, and a follow-up story in 1993 after DC Initiative 37 won the election. Akahata (a daily newspaper) has a readership of 3 million. The stories led to an invitation for Proposition One to send a representative to the Japan Peace Conference.

On November 3, 1994 Proposition One was introduced to some 1,500 Japanese peace activists at the 9th annual Japan Peace Conference, held in Misawa City, 500 kilometers north of Tokyo.

Ellen Thomas, who was the lucky person chosen to accept the Japanese invitation to speak, reports on what she learned:

"Over and over during my week in Japan, when I was able to visit with peace people in Misawa, Hiroshima, and Kobe, I was told that DC Initiative 37 and the resulting Congressional bill give people hope, proving that in America a few patient people can accomplish a great deal.

"My hosts seemed to understand the significance of our work, and its frustrations. I discovered that their 50-year struggle for nuclear disarmament has faced similar obstacles of government repression, media silence or misinformation, and public misunderstanding.

"I was struck by the coincidence between our effort to amend the U.S. Constitution with Proposition One, and the Japanese people's struggle to retain their courageous renunciation of war by Constitutional decree.

"After World War II the Japanese adopted a Constitution whose preamble reads:

'We, the Japanese people, acting through our duly elected representatives in the National Diet, determined that we shall secure for ourselves and our posterity the fruits of peaceful cooperation with all nations and the blessings of liberty throughout this land, and resolved that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government, do proclaim that sovereign power resides with the people and do firmly establish this Constitution. Government is a sacred trust of the people, the authority for which is derived from the people, the powers of which are exercised by the representative of the people, and the benefits of which are enjoyed by the people. Tis is a universal principle of mankind upon which this Constitution is founded. We reject and revoke all constitutions, laws, ordinances and rescripts in confict herewith.

'We, the Japanese people, desire peace for all time and are deeply conscious of thie high ideals controlling human relationship, and we have determined to preserve our security and existence, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world. We desire to occupy an honored place in an international society sriving for the preservation of peace, and the banishment of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance for all time from the earth. We recognize that all peoples of the world have the right to live in peace, free from fear and want.

'We believe that no nation is responsible to itself alone, but that laws of political morality are universal; and that obedience to such laws is incumbent upon all nations who would sustain their own sovereignty and justify their sovereign relationship with otehr nations.

'We, the Japanese people, pledge our national honor to accomplish these high ideals and purposes with all our resources."

"Article 9 reads:

'Aspiring sincrely to an international peace based on justice and order, 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.

'In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, 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."

"It was Japanese Prime Minister Shidehara who proposed the above language to General MacArthur, who wrote in a letter that he was "astonished" at the proposal. Shidehara later wrote that MacArthur was at first hesitant to approve the idea, but was moved by Shidehara's plea that this was a matter of the highest importance to the future of mankind, transcending any national interests.

"Now, 48 years after the Peace Constitution was ratified, the U.S. and United Nations are putting pressure on Japan to send their Defense Force overseas to help with U.N. peacekeeping missions. An editorial appeared in a mainstream Tokyo paper on November 3rd proposing an amendment abolishing the Preamble and Article 9. I was told that 'the government wants to change Article 9 180 degrees.'

"Various hosts told me that the Japanese government is paying half the costs of all U.S. military bases in Japan -- 100 in all -- about 500 billion dollars annually -- and all the expense of Japan Defense Forces. They say now the U.S. is demanding that ALL U.S. costs should be paid by Japanese. They say there are government plans to build new bases and expand existing bases into the hills, which are customarily left uncluttered, their beauty traditionally the 'wealth of Japan.' They say they absolutely don't want any new bases, and want to reclaim the much-needed land now used by JDF and U.S. bases for housing, farming, and environmental protection. Many of the activists have worked most of their lives to demilitarize Japan. 'We don't need any military bases in Japan,' I was told again and again.

"The Japanese government is so far officially noncommittal to U.S. and U.N. pressure, in part no doubt due to the extremely well-organized opposition they face from a broad coalition of organizations throughout Japan which are committed to retaining these evolutionary passages in the Constitution.

"It was such grassroots coalitions which led to the city councillors of Kobe declaring their city a nuclear-weapons-free port in March, 1975, the first such port in the world. Since the U.S. policy is never to declare whether or not a ship has nuclear weapons aboard, no U.S. warships have been in Kobe harbor since the 'Kobe Formula' was adopted in 1945:


'Kobe Port is among the world's leading ports in terms of the number of ship calls and the volume of handling cargo. While developing Kobe Port as a port convenient for the users and comfortable for the workers, we have to maintain it as a peaceful one acceptable to the citizens in general. It can easily be imagined that the bringing of nuclear weapons into our port will cause the citizens' uneasiness and confusion, and it will hamper the normal functioning of the port.


'WE, Kobe City Council, reject the visit of all nuclear-armed warships into Kobe Port.' March 18, 1975, Kobe City Council.

"It is such grassroots coalitions that in November 1994 had managed to collect 45 million signatures in ten years on the 'Hiroshima Appeal,' which calls on the U.N. to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide. Their goal, by August 1995: 61 million, or over half the population of Japan. Having observed their incredible efficiency, I won't be surprised if they succeed."