Osamu Takeuchi, S.J.
True peace is not merely nothing happening, nor forces kept in an uncertain balance, nor the control of a dictator; it has a more positive meaning. Jesus says, “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:19, 21). Peace or shalom is a common word which is used in daily life as a greeting. It also means that God is with us. “Do not fear. You are mine. I will always be with you” (cf. Is 43:1-2) — this is God’s promise, the source of true peace.
Basically, true peace is given by God, but at the same time, human beings have to build it positively. The second Vatican council says:
Peace is more than the absence of war: it cannot be reduced to the maintenance of a balance of power between opposing forces nor does it arise out of despotic dimension, but it is appropriately called “the effect of righteousness” (Is 32:17). It is the fruit of that right ordering of things with which the divine founder has invested human society and which must be brought about by humanity in its thirst for an ever more perfect reign of justice. But while the common good of humanity ultimately derives from the eternal law, it depends in the concrete upon circumstances which change with time; consequently, peace will never be achieved once and for all, but must be built up continually. Since, moreover, human nature is weak and wounded by sin, the achievement of peace requires a constant effort to control the passions and unceasing vigilance by lawful authority (Gaudium et spes, 78).
The Right to Collective Self-Defense
Since World War II, Japan has kept a somehow basically peaceful society. It is true that this owes much to The Constitution of Japan, in particular to its Article 9. Article 9 has clearly banned the use of force abroad. This Constitution is, however, not made only for Japan. Rather, it is a kind of an apology for the acts recently committed by Japan and its declaration to the whole world, especially to Japan’s neighboring countries.
The present atmosphere pervading Japan tends to deprive people and society of peace. The plan to exercise the right to collective self-defense is striking.
In spite of huge protests around the country, Prime Minister Abe’s Cabinet approved a reinterpretation of the constitution on July 1 to allow the exercise of the right to collective self-defense. According to the cabinet, the use of force as a means of self-defense is permitted not only when Japan comes under military attack, but also when a nation with a close relationship to Japan comes under attack.
However, that exercise undoubtedly goes beyond the minimum required level of self-defense allowed by the Constitution. Still more, if the exercise of the right to collective self-defense is allowed, it will inevitably lead to amending Article 9 of the Constitution.