Schedule Past Events
October 17, 2006:
The Project gathered for a discussion of the current state of the debate on constitutional revision in Japan and the implications of Prime Minister Abe Shinzō's inauguration as the new leader of Japan on September 26, 2006. Presentations were given by Timothy George (University of Rhode Island) on civic engagement; Suzanne O’Brien (Loyola Mary Mount University) on gender issues related to constitutional revision; Richard Samuels (MIT) on security and Prime Minister Abe’s unprecedented move to make constitutional revision a major plank of the prime ministerial agenda; Alexis Dudden (Connecticut College) on Chinese and South Korean opposition to revision of Article 9 and the growing threat of North Korea to Japan; Franziska Seraphim (Boston College) on revision of the Fundamental Law of Education; and Helen Hardacre (Harvard University) on Yasukuni Shrine and a new clause within the draft of the revised Fundamental Law of Education that proposes instituting religious education in schools.
September 15, 2006:
The Project Steering Committee gathered by phone to discuss the upcoming fall meetings. For the October 17 meeting the steering committee decided to present on recent events related to constitutional revision that had occurred in Japan including the inauguration of a new prime minister.
May 5, 2006:
The Project Steering Committee gathered to discuss the following year's activities and invitation of guest speakers such as Professor Onuma Yasuo from the University of Tokyo. Proposed topics of discussion for the coming year included legislative revisions in the Civil Code; changes in Japanese nationality, citizenship, and immigration laws; international responses to moves to revise the Constitution; new legislation to replace the current codes on public corporations (koeki hōjin); and new rights especially environmental rights.
March 7, 2006:
The Project welcomed Aichi Kazuo, member of the House of Representatives and Director of the Special Committee on Constitutional Revision, to speak on the growing momentum in Japan to revise the Constitution. Mr. Aichi stated that he was in strong support of move to constitutional revision and introduced his own draft of the Constitution in which he identifies the emperor as the chief of state; calls for revision of both clauses of Article 9; renames the SDF as a security force; identifies "Hinomaru (日の丸)" as the national flag and "Kimigayo (君が代)" as the anthem; and proposes articles for environmental conservation. Mr. Aichi's talk was followed by an active Q&A session as participants asked him to speak on the dispatch of SDF forces to Iraq; the influence of the United States on Japanese constitutional revision; and the impact of revision on Japan's relationship with its Asian neighbors.
February 28 , 2006:
The Project viewed the film "Japan's Peace Constitution" produced by Yamagami Tetsujiro and directed by John Junkerman, a strong critic of revision. The film places the ongoing debate about constitutional revision in Japan in an international context and explores the implications of revision of Article 9 for world security. The viewing the film was followed by active debate by Project members on a range of topics including the heavy influence of leftist politics in the film's narrative; the usefulness of the film as a teaching tool in American college classrooms; and the implications of revision of Article 9 for the Japanese economy.
January 24 , 2006:
The Project discussed the LDP's final draft for a new Constitution that was published on November 22, 2005. Presentations were made summarizing the changes in the new draft and how they differed from the 1947 Constitution. Franziska Seraphim (Boston College) spoke on the preamble and the sections on the Emperor and national security; Helen Hardacre (Harvard University) spoke on the rights and duties of Japanese citizens, the Diet, and the Cabinet; and Timothy George (University of Rhode Island) who was ill prepared a discussion on sections on the judiciary, finance, and local government.
November 29 , 2005:
At this meeting, Timothy George (University of Rhode Island) gave a talk entitled "Meiji popular constitutionalism: from popular rights movement to Tanaka Shozo." In his talk, Professor George gave an overview of constitutional thought outside of government in the Meiji period and discussed draft constitutions from the early 1880s written by "enlightenment societies" and "liberty groups" some of which influenced the drafting of the Meiji constitution. He focused, in particular, on the constitutional thought of Tanaka Shozo (1841 – 1913).
October 22, 2005:
The Project canvassed ideas for activities for the coming year. It adopted two new themes for collective research: citizens rights, including feminist activism opposing change to Article 24 (which specifies the essential equality of the sexes in marriage), and proposals to revise the workings of the Diet. The Project decided to invite Aichi Kazuo, member of the House of Representatives, as a guest speaker in the spring. Wendy Gogel and Andrea Goethals from Harvard College’s Library Digitization Initiative spoke briefly on web archiving of internet materials related to the Constitution.