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Japanese constitution nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

By Angelina Lucienne

Apr. 15, 2014 - 06:55AM JST

TOKYO —

The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize has an unprecedented nomination: the Ninth Article of the Japanese constitution. The Ninth Article renounces the right to engage in war or to maintain a military. The group advocating the nomination, the “Constitution’s Ninth Article for the Nobel Peace Prize,” is based in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Housewife Naomi Takusu (37) came up with the idea. She started an online petition last May and garnered 1,500 signatures in just five days. She contacted the Nobel Committee, from whose response she learned that candidates can only be nominated through certain channels and must be individuals or groups. She changed her strategy and tried again for 2014.

Nominations can come from people like government officials, university professors, directors of peace research institutes and laureates of the prize. The committee reached out to such people for help and secured 43 recommendations. They also received 24,887 signatures on the public letter of recommendation (though that has since risen to over 40,000). They decided that the official nominee would be the people of Japan.

Takusu is quoted as saying “It would be meaningful for the Japanese people, who have upheld the Ninth Article and refrained from engaging in war for almost 70 years.”

Though the article has remained in place since the end of the war, it has not been uncontested. Shinzo Abe has promised to modify the Ninth Article to allow for military expansion. While Japan technically does not have a military, it does maintain the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

Much of the Japanese constitution, including the Ninth Article, was written by an American committee after Japan’s surrender. It can be seen as a symbol of continuing American imperialism in Japan. Issues such as aggression from North Korea and crimes committed by American soldiers have been cited as reasons for Japan to end its reliance on the American military and develop its own armed forces.

Eri Okada (57) of the executive office commented, “I’m happy the application was accepted. The prize-winner must be a person or organization, so the committee submitted the Japanese people. That means that each and every citizen of Japan has become a nominee.”

Takusu said, “We have just managed to get a nomination because of the combined wishes for peace of many people. We are really grateful to all the people who have worked with us towards our goal.”

Due to the 50-year secrecy rule for Nobel Prizes, it is impossible to tell if the nomination has been accepted or not. The winner will be announced on October 10 and awarded two months later, on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death.

2014 has brought more nominations than ever for the Peace Prize; out of 278 nominations, 47 are organizations. Other nominees for 2014 include Malala Yousafzai, Pope Francis, Edward Snowden, Vladmir Putin and the International Space Station Partnership.

If the bid is successful, the people of Japan would join the ranks of laureates such as Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, the Red Cross, Martin Luther King Jr and Liu Xiaobo.

Sources: The Huffington Post Japan, Nobel Prize, GlobalPost, PBS

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