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.
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.
— Article 9, the Constitution of Japan
Since the end of World War II, Article 9 of Japan's Constitution has shaped Japan's foreign policy, guided its active engagement in efforts to reduce the global trade in weapons, and prohibited the possession, production, and introduction of nuclear weapons on Japanese territory. Though conceived by the victors, it has been embraced by most Japanese people. Few more powerful examples exist of national policy committed to pacifism and nonviolence.
But a disturbing and dangerous effort to revise Article 9 is gaining momentum. In 2004, a contingent of Japan's Ground Self-Defense Forces was sent to support the U.S. in Iraq—the first time since World War II that Japanese troops have been dispatched to a conflict situation. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the support and encouragement of the Bush administration, has campaigned to revise Article 9, permitting Japan to maintain de jure military forces to be dispatched anywhere in the world and enabling Japan to take a proactive military role in the U.S. Asia-Pacific security strategy as part of the global "war on terror."
Religious leaders in Japan, including the Japanese Catholic Bishops' Conference, say such a revision of Article 9 would have profound reverberations throughout the Asia-Pacific region.