With Japanese scientists winning the Nobel Prize in physics, does the nation have a chance for a repeat? That’s what boosters of the constitution’s Article 9 for the Nobel Peace Prize are hoping.
Article 9, part of Japan’s postwar constitution put into effect on May 3, 1947, famously renounced “…war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” It marked a clean break from prewar imperial Japan, where military officials came to hold outsize power in the government.
In July, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet approved a revised interpretation of the article which enables Japan to conduct “collective self-defense,” meaning that Japan’s military, called the Self-Defense Forces, can support allies even if Japan is not directly attacked.
The director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo in Norway, Kristian Berg Harpviken, picked “Japanese people who conserve Article 9” as the favorite for this year’s Nobel.
In the statement accompanying his pick, the director wrote: “We may have come to think of wars between states as virtually extinct after the end of the Cold War, but events in Ukraine and simmering tensions in East Asia remind us they may reappear, and a return to a principle often hailed in earlier periods of the Peace Prize would be well timed.”
A change.org petition to the Nobel Committee asking it to award the prize to “Japanese citizens [who]have maintained the Constitution of Japan, Article 9 in particular” currently sits at just above 70,000 signatures.
The Oslo institute’s directors have been predicting Peace Prize winners since 2002 and usually miss the mark. However, the director speculated in 2007 that U.S. politician Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were top candidates for the prize. The IPCC and Mr. Gore shared the prize that year.
The only Japanese person to win the Nobel Peace Prize to date is former Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, who shared the prize in 1974. In a foreshadow of the present-day discussion of Article 9, the committee found that he “represented the will for peace of the Japanese people.”