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Noah Feldman

It's OK for Japan to Fudge Its Constitution

A living document allows country to ramp up its military.
Not everyone agrees with the idea.

Not everyone agrees with the idea.

Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Japan’s Diet has begun the process of passing legislation that would authorize the country’s self-defense forces to fight in foreign conflicts, in apparent violation of the country’s pacifist constitution. And that’s a good thing, despite the apparent danger it poses to the rule of law. Behold the power -- and the danger -- of a living constitution.

The provision in question is Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, which says “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation” and promises that “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”