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Japanese officials applaud Berkeley

By Judith Scherr, Daily Planet staff
Saturday November 17, 2001

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.  

– Article 9  

The Constitution of Japan 



While some assert that there’s a boycott Berkeley campaign – a reaction to a City Council resolution asking for a halt to the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan as soon as possible – two Japanese parliamentarians came to town this week to thank Berkeley councilmembers first hand for the resolution.  

They are also hoping to meet with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, to thank her for being the lone Congress person to oppose giving war powers to the president. 

They are Tomon Mitsuko and Renko Kitagawa, both members of the Japanese House of Representatives, the lower house in the Japanese Parliament. Both are members of the Japanese Democratic Socialist Party, a political party that counts 19 members in the lower house and 8 in the upper house. 

“I was so impressed by the speech (Lee) gave to Congress,” said Mitsuko, in an interview Friday morning at the Shattuck Hotel. “In order to end terrorism, I don’t think that force is the best way. There should be some other way.” The focus should be on eradicating poverty, she said. 

The Democratic Socialist Party, which holds 19 out of 480 seats in the lower house and eight out of 252 in the upper house is in the minority. Only the Japanese Communist Party, which holds 20 seats in the lower house, disagrees with the use of military force in Afghanistan. 

The Japanese government has thrown its support behind the United States, despite what Mitsuko says is a clear mandate in the constitution not to use force to settle international disputes. 

In his statement of support Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reportedly emphasized that Japan regards terrorism as “its own security issue.” The Japanese government pledged to help the U.S. in intelligence collection, shipment of supplies, medical services and humanitarian relief and to strengthen protection of U.S. bases in Japan.  

Mitsuki’s party issued a resolution expressing condolences for the loss of lives in the World Trade Center and called for those who participated in the crime to be judged in an international court of law, according to international laws and treaties. “When (the crime) is avenged (by) violence, it causes chains of violence without end and it would not solve the problems essentially,” the resolution says. “It is not forgiven to use military force to deprive people of the right to life, which is the same as terrorism.” 

Both Mitsuko and Kitagawa have been members of parliament for one year only. In addition to working for peace, their party is working to promote growing food without pesticides, fighting against discrimination against Korean-Japanese people and strengthening laws against child abuse and domestic violence. 

Mitsuko has been working for some time on eliminating the U.S. military from Okinawa, where she was formerly vice governor. There are about 25,000 U.S. military personnel. She said they have been a source of crime, including rape, drunken driving and arson. They have also been the source of a number of aircraft accidents, according to a booklet prepared by the Military Base Affairs Office. 

“We are not anti-American. We are anti military,” Mitsuko said.