Nominating Article 9 for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize 憲法9条、2015年ノーベル平和賞推薦のために


January 19, 2015

Volume 13 | Issue 3 | Number 5

Article ID 4815


Last April, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee selected for contention Japanese citizens working to conserve Article 9, Japan’s long-standing constitutional prohibition against waging war.


Although trite, at certain moments original definitions are helpful. In his final will, dated November 27, 1895, the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel stipulated that the bulk of his wealth should be used for five prizes – and, without explanation, one for “peace.” Award of the prize since to individuals such as Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Kissinger, whom many equate with war, has raised eyebrows about its virtue. Notwithstanding, Nobel’s initial terms that the award go to someone who has “done the most or the best work for the fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding of peace congresses” continues to make it synonymous with hope – as in the case of 2014’s worthy winners, Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, and such earlier recipients as Martin Luther King Jr. and Albert Schweitzer.


Following Alfred Nobel’s aims to the letter of his words, no person or group of people more than Japanese citizens who work to preserve Article 9’s renunciation of a state’s right to commit extreme violence seems more worthy.


The text is worth quoting both as an ideal and to recall the many ways in which the principle has been, and continues to be challenged in Japan:

ARTICLE 9. Aspiring sincerely 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. 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.


Article 9’s support groups did not win last year’s prize, yet the nomination has become the subject of domestic and international support and debate and even boasts its own Wikipedia page.


February 1, 2015 is the date nominations are due for this year’s prize. Readers interested in learning more about, or participating in, the nominating process can follow this link:


The Committee’s rules for nominations are not the grass roots approach that some might favor. Online signature campaigns such as the one organized by Takasu Naomi in 2013, which generated initial broad-based domestic and international support, technically become effective only once the Nobel Prize Committee selects the nomination. Likewise, essays and editorials focusing on the significance of Article 9 become important to the Committee’s deliberations only after it registers those in contention – generally by early April.


Readers who meet the Nobel Committee’s criteria – professors of specific disciplines and directors of peace research centers, for example – and who would like to be part of this year’s efforts should designate either or both the “Article 9 Association” and “Nihon Hidankyo: The Japan Confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers” as active supporters among Japanese citizens’ efforts to conserve Article 9.


The Nobel Committee recognizes both these groups as legitimate and representative organizations of Japanese citizens who support the nomination of Article 9. The nomination of Article 9 is particularly timely because the Abe administration and its backers have Article 9 in their immediate political crosshairs. In the wake of last year’s successful nomination, detractors began to scrutinize the nominating process. Their denigration efforts failed – not least perhaps because support from people such as Noam Chomsky was and remains valid according to the Nobel Committee’s rules. Those who would scrap Article 9, however, are currently redoubling their efforts to discredit this cause, strengthening the determination of its varied supporters within Japan such as Democratic Party of Japan Representative Konishi Hiroyuki, businessman Hamaji Michio, and Nobel literature laureate Oe Kenzaburo, to ensure that this year’s nomination process is air tight.


Alexis Dudden is Professor of History at the University of Connecticut and an Asia-Pacific Journal contributing editor. She is the author of Troubled Apologies Among Japan, Korea, and the United States and Japan’s Colonization of Korea: Discourse and Power


Also see Dudden’s op-ed The Shape of Japan to Come published in The New York Times.



Asia Pacific Journal articles on related themes:


Alexis Dudden, The Nomination of Article 9 for a Nobel Peace Prize


Tessa Morris-Suzuki, The Re-Branding of Abe Nationalism: Global Perspectives on Japan


C. Douglas Lummis, It Would Make No Sense for Article 9 to Mean What it Says, Therefore it Doesn’t: The Transformation of Japan’s Constitution


Klaus Schlichtmann, Article Nine in Context – Limitations of National Sovereignty and the Abolition of War in Constitutional Law   

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Volume 13 | Issue 3 | Number 5

Article ID 4815

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