Japanese govt sued over constitutionality of security laws

Updated: 2016-04-27 10:19


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TOKYO - Around 700 people across Japan filed class-action lawsuits in Tokyo on Tuesday against the Japanese government over the constitutionality of the new security laws.

The suits were filed by both lawyers and former legal professionals, including judges, with the Tokyo District Court. The legal experts represented around 500 people in Tokyo and another 200 in Fukushima Prefecture, with the lawsuits seeking an injunction to block the deployment of Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel under the new laws.

In addition to the injunction against the activities of the SDF under the new laws, another lawsuit is seeking damages of 100,000 yen ($900) per plaintiff from the Japanese government.

Sources close to the matter said Tuesday that the lawsuits are the first of many to be filed across the nation by the group of experts, who are further gearing up to see the new security laws that will allow a broader operational scope of Japan's military repealed. The legislations came into force last month after being steamrolled through both chambers of the Diet last year.

The team of lawyers and constitutional experts are demanding that the court adhere to and uphold Japan's Constitution, Article 9 of which states that Japan will forever renounce war and will not maintain armed forces, or use force as a means of settling international disputes.

The plaintiffs maintain that Japanese forces exercising the right to collective self-defense is in violation of Japan's Supreme Law and could cause the nation "irreparable damage".

Individual plaintiffs, including professors and lawyers, were also quoted Tuesday as stating they felt "harmed" and "personally damaged" by the new, contentious security laws, that could see Japan and its civilians embroiled in war or terror-related attacks.

For the past 70 years since the end of WWII, Japan's pacifist constitution has effectively guaranteed the peace and security of its citizens by limiting its own war potential.

As well as Tokyo, similar suits will be filed in Osaka, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the legal group has said. More than 1,500 plaintiffs prepared to petition local courts across the nation, ostensibly backed by opposition parties, including the main Democratic Party and Japanese Communist Party, who have pledged to campaign to scrap the security laws in the run-up to this summer's upper house elections.

Thus far, the government's response has come from the National Security Secretariat in the form of a statement saying the security laws are constitutional, despite the overwhelming contradiction posed by Article 9, and the vast majority of the best legal and constitutional experts in Japan concurring the security laws are, indeed, unconstitutional and hence in violation of Japan's Supreme Law.