Defend and Make the Best of Articles 9 and 25 of the Constitution!

The following report features a variety of activities that took place at various hospitals, clinics and workplaces, which were reported in the “Min-Iren Exchange Meeting for the Struggles to Defend the Constitution.

“Let’s take to the streets and seek people’s attention!”
“Let’s be cool and fashionable”

Talking about our Constitution in our own words (Aomori)

Aomori Kenko-Kikaku (Aomori Health Planning) is a corporation comprised of 5 pharmacies. Since November 2004 they have been organizing a 15-minute public information campaign on the themes of Article 9 and peace, and on Article 25 and human rights of the Constitution respectively staged on the 9th and 25th every month in front of all of their five pharmacies before their business hour. At the invitation of the pharmacies, Aomori Health Cooperative Society-affiliating hospitals and clinics and Hachinohe Cooperative Clinic have now joined the campaign.

Tetsunari Kamata of Aomori Kenko-Kikaku spoke in the meeting. He said, “Opposing the start of the Iraq War in 2003, I prepared bullhorn speech copies for our soapbox campaigners to read loud, but now individual speakers prepare speech texts by themselves.” He also had first- or second-year new staff members write their own speech texts. The point is, “You have to study for yourself when you are going to speak in your own words.” “Being just a handbill distributor or placard holder does not make you a good activist,” said Kamata. Now all the participants have grown well enough to make speeches spontaneously without being asked in advance.

“In Aomori Prefecture the US has its military bases and X-band radars to detect ballistic missiles. The people’s income level here is lower than the national level. Under these circumstances, we need to advance our campaigns aimed at defending the Constitution and social security system.”

“What is ‘9’?” – A good chance for conversations (Ishikawa)

From Ishikawa Prefecture, Masaru Kawai and Yui Nishimura were at the meeting to speak about the activities of their Article 9 Youth Association of Ishikawa: “9 Peace.” It was formed by ten young people of Min-Iren members and their friends after their participation in the World Conference against A & H Bombs in August 2005. The group has been committed to the activities such as semimonthly study meetings and going downtown “to share the knowledge of Article 9 with many young people and spread voices for its defense.”

On December 24, 2005 about 30 young people took part in a candle-making in an event called: “Peace Candle.” They made candles using “Article 9 tea” containers to attract attention. Young people passing by wondered: “Why is it ‘9’?” It triggered a discussion and dialogue: “Yes, that reminds me of what I learned in school.” This lead to a collection of a total of 116 signatures to defend the constitution.

There was also a poll with ballot seals on the theme of Article 9. Another project was “Peace Mosaic” to be completed by gluing together 1cm-square origami pieces into a “9” in mosaic with cooperation of young people on the street and hospital staff and outpatients.

“Young people are often said to have no interest in politics. But when you talk with them you find many of them respond saying they hate war and love peace. To offer them a chance to think about the Constitution, I think we need to go out on the street to stage attention-drawing campaigns,” said Nishimura.

Together with patients and nursing home residents (Aichi)

Takayuki Maeda of Owari Kenyukai spoke about activities of Chiaki Hospital Article 9 Association in Aichi Prefecture. The Article 9 Association of Chiaki Hospital was born in May 2005, succeeding to the activity of a peace circle by the initiative of the board members and manager of Owari Kenyukai.

The association comprises about 90 members of hospital workers, patients and Care House Chiaki residents. Their activities include a meeting with a former Japanese soldier to hear his experience as a war victimizer and victim, and a workshop on the national referendum law inviting Niimi Jiichi, professor at Nagoya Keizai University.

Last year the association organized a trip to visit Matsushiro-Daihon’ei (Imperial Headquarters during WWII) in Nagano Prefecture combined with a sightseeing of Zenkoji Temple, and another trip to visit Ritsumeikan University’s Kyoto Museum for World Peace, combined with a sightseeing of Arashiyama, Kyoto.

Looking back their steady activities, including Peace Bon Festival Dance in summer and sales of “Article 9 tea” at the hospital cafeteria, Maeda expressed his wish, saying, “we will do our best together with our young hospital workers who took part in the World Conference against A and H Bombs and Min-Iren’s solidarity and support actions in opposition to a US off-shore military base at Henoko, Okinawa.”

Dance, Cafe and Magic Show (Kyoto)

Kyoto Min-Iren Second Central Hospital Area’s Article 9 Association was formed in February last year. Thirty-five people took part in a “gathering for peaceful future,” a general meeting to inaugurate the association. A dancing team “Phoenix 9” was formed with young members playing a central role in organizing.

In addition to this, the association has undertaken a variety of activities in series, such as watching movies: “Chichi to kuraseba (Living with Father,)” and “Nigai namida no daichi kara (From the Land of Bitter Tears)”, a workshop with a young “ikemen (good-looking)” lawyer as a lecturer on “critical study of LDP’s new draft constitution,” sales of home-made cookies, etc.

In the summer last year, 62 people took part in “Summer Peace Cafe.” In this event “Coffee Shop Sanae” and “Snack Misao” opened with featured attractions of magic show, violin concert and canzone-singing by doctors. A doctor showed up with a perfect beauty salon hair styling.

“If you are told to do this and that from higher-ups, no one wants to join you in peace activities. The key is that mid-level workers should take the center role in organizing efforts”, says Momoko Mishima from Kyoto Min-Iren Second Central Hospital, in reporting their activities. “It is important to organize activities in a fashionable and stylish way,” she smiled.