(Initially published in the Japan Times, May 3, 2008)
The government’s reactions to the Nagoya High Court’s April 17 decision that Japanese operations in Iraq are unconstitutional, raise profoundly disturbing questions about the rule of law and the democratic separation of powers in Japan.
Representatives of the government, and of the military, have made public statements contradicting the findings of the court, rejecting its conclusions, and dismissing the relevance and significance of its constitutional interpretation. The prime minister has stated that the judgment will have absolutely no impact on the government’s continued use of the military in Iraq.
This response by the executive branch of government to a judicial decision in a constitutional democracy is difficult to comprehend. It raises questions about the extent to which the rule of law is respected. It provokes concerns about the continued normative power of the Constitution. It creates serious doubts about the proper distribution of power among the three branches of government within the democratic structure of the state.