Printer Friendly

Visualizing war; affirming peace provisions.

There shall be a perfect, permanent, and universal peace, and a sincere and cordial amity, between the United States of America, on the one part, and the Empire of Japan on the other, and between their people, respectively, without exception of persons of places.

Commodore Matthew C. Perry

United States Navy, 1856 (1)

The films studied in the Japanese Law Film Series course at Harvard Law School have astute philosophical relevance to the global context of law. Leaders and citizens are considering accountability to their own constitutions and to those international treaties which connect fellow citizens beyond borders. Japan and America have been exceptionally, inextricably intertwined ever since the Treaty of Amity in 1858. (2)

Today in America, a lens on war in terms of the right to wage war [jus ad bellum] as well as the limits for acceptable wartime conduct [jus in bello] has come to the forefront of policy and public debate writ large. In his 2009 Inaugural Address, President Obama called for a "new era of responsibility" as he harkened back to original documents like the Geneva Convention that undergird "sturdy alliances and enduring convictions": "Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.... As keepers of this legacy, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat...." (3)

In remarks delivered at Hradcany Square in Prague, Czech Republic in 2009, Obama recalled that 20 years ago ... "the Velvet Revolution taught us many things. It showed us that peaceful protest could shake the foundations of an empire, and expose the emptiness of an ideology. It showed us that small countries can play a pivotal role in world events ... [a]nd it proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon." (4) Obama further stated that
   [a]s the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the
   United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed
   in this endeavor alone.... I state clearly and with conviction
   America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world
   without nuclear weapons.... The voices and ghosts of 1968 remind
   us that it was the Czechs who helped bring down a nuclear-armed
   empire without firing a shot. (5)

This perspective on revolution along with Japan's reflection on culture and war enlightens the examination of the three films discussed in this article. Through The Ballad of Narayama, The Burmese Harp and The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On, these ideas come to life.

In the film The Ballad of Narayama, a lens is provided on the intimate values of both a family and a traditional Japanese village set high in the remote mountains where snow is falling. Themes running through the film include the Japanese view of shame and cultural law.

Orin, a family matriarch, describes her husband who has run away because he was depressed. She asks: "Did he think he was the only one suffering? Shame!" Orin is embarrassed by her husband's behavior "in front of the entire village," where the system depends on everyone contributing to the whole; by running away, he failed to uphold this cultural norm, and thus he embarrassed his whole family in front of the village. "The law is the law" uttered Orin. The law to which she refers is a cultural law.

A quality of Japanese uniqueness is the concept of shame as the most significant dynamic in social relations. Within a "shame culture" individuals are controlled by personal honor and reputation. (6) Also within a village culture understood norms exist and are reflected in social attitudes of approval and disapproval: those behaviors which are acceptable and those which are not acceptable. (7) Village culture is marked by the willingness to cooperate and abide by social norms along with the moral judgment that becomes intertwined with those norms. (8) In contrast, anomalous, shameful or free-riding behaviors are choices which evoke sentiments contrary to group cohesiveness. (9)

In addition to Orin's husband's desertion, shame is seen in The Ballad of Narayama when the pregnant woman who participated with thieves went to the rice pot without asking permission; thus "eating for two," as the matriarch whispered, she was shameful and free-riding. Individual greed is not good for the group.

At the extreme other end of the spectrum is Orin's decision "to go to the mountain," Narayama, and end her life because famine threatens the village. She meets with the Council of Elders and participates in ceremonial sake sips while outlining her plan for departure. She is told: "It is hard to make the mountain pilgrimage. We appreciate your sacrifice." Each of these acts is organic to the culture and context and indicative of a determination to control the situation. (10)

In describing such social norms and social roles, Cass Sunstein opines that "the norm affects the belief, just as the belief affects the norm." (11) The elder matriarch was spunky and alert, and remained a capable fisherwoman, yet she felt her chronological age required that she follow the norm of going to the mountain to die. Perhaps to convince her son that her age made her ugly and dispensable, she smashed her teeth. There is a dark side to social controls. (12)

The Burmese Harp is a film that allegorically portrays the indigenization of Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan:
   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.

   In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land,
   sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be
   maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be
   recognized. (13)

In this film, the harp becomes a character, luring the listener, casting a spell. It is given life only when human fingers touch its strings. So too, Article 9 is given life and a constitutional culture that emerges only with the courage to preserve peace.

Carol Gluck describes a genre of August 15th literature. (14) An abundance of literature written immediately following the war is characterized by determination and optimism. The Burmese Harp lures the audience to place Article 9--like the Burmese ruby of the film--at the centerpiece of this literature.

Bowing, and particularly bowing to bones, is a significant metaphor. Prayers of gratitude and gestures of bowing are the subject of postwar debate regarding the Shinto Doctrine. (15) Yet in The Burmese Harp, Mizushina instantaneously genuflects, bows, and covers his eyes in horror at the sight of a pile of bones. There is urgency. This passionate antiwar gesture brought to mind the Websterian formulation of the use of force in going to war: it is justified by the necessity of self-defense and "should be confined to cases in which the necessity of that self-defense is instant, overwhelming, and [without a] ... moment for deliberation." (16)

Henri Dunant's horror of war on the battlefield of Solferino (17) was similar, and as a result the law of Geneva was born. Here, in The Burmese Harp, Mizushina is told: "The soil of Burma is red. The bones of many foreign solders lie unburied," to which he replies, "It's a pity!" He bows.

Both scenes transcend national ties; all war death is a pity. To the contemporary eye, the pattern of genocide in Rwanda has elicited graphic horrors of skeletons; yet here, too, Tracy Kidder describes Emmanuel's yearning to stay with the bones of the dead. (18) For the Japanese, the complexities of war, grief, and a response to fallen soldiers remain intertwined in the controversy of the Yasukuni Shrine. Other countries empathize.

It was with prescient timing on Veteran's Day, November 11,2009, that the film class viewed The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On. In this film, a Japanese veteran of the New Guinea campaign embodies the vicissitudes of psychic damage inflicted by war. He asks "wise" questions such as "What kind of man is a great man?" dedicates himself to "telling the truth for the sake of the dead," and admonishes former officers that "the public has to know the truth" about cannibalism versus death for desertion.

Revulsed that young people now think that war is "heroic," the veteran dedicates himself to the ideal: "Everyone has the right to live in peace." In a final act of self-righteousness, revenge, belligerency and twisted logic, he shoots former Officer Koshimuzu's son. The American tragedy of twisted logic and the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, makes for eerie relevance. (19)

The visualization of war in The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On creates a crescendo of passion for peace affirmation. Nations and civil society are examining the ethics of peacemaking provisions. The law embodied in Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan is supremely situated to serve as a model to the world today. Countries such as Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Bolivia are attempting to abide by such peace provisions.

Katayama Tetsu reported before the Japanese Diet for the Research Commission on the Constitution saying "[t]he renunciation of war is not a clause that was imposed on us, but a great idea that was present as an undercurrent in the hearts of the Japanese people." (20)

A global public culture of visionary ideals is gaining momentum as evidenced by tribunals and Article 9 Societies. (21) Our shared global context makes discussion of culture, nuclear catastrophe, and norms of leadership salient as never before.

Mayor Akiba Tadotoshi of Hiroshima, speaking before 5,000 attendees of the Peace Memorial Ceremonies in 2009, pointed to the relevance of Article 9: "The essence of this idea [was] embodied in the Japanese Constitution, which is ever more highly esteemed around the world." United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said that building a world without the threat of nuclear weapons was an achievable goal and called on all humanity to do our part in this common journey. "[A]n outpouring of new ideas from civil societies and governments are helping to put the great train of nuclear disarmament on the right track." (22)

With sarcastic wisdom, John Dower has observed that the "great legacy" of the Occupation was the Japanese "acquiescence to the American imperium." (23) Now is the era to reverse that momentum. In 2008, then-Secretary of Defense, Robert M. Gates, made the case for "increasing the capacity of America's civilian tools of statecraft ... combining] the tools of 'intimidation' with the tools of 'inspiration' also called smart power." (24)

Graham Allison has alerted us with a cautionary tale in which brinkmanship evokes a tacit threat, as compared to the "seven yeses" on a road map to prevent nuclear catastrophe, which include global alliances, conducting humble foreign policy, creating intelligence capabilities, and constructing a multilayered defense. (25) Restoring America's basic goodwill and good sense and reputation as reflected in the original documents such as the U.S.--Japanese Security Treaty (26) would find global citizen support.

Nobel Peace Prize 1997 winner, Jody Williams, represents the tip of the iceberg of citizens who are making the time and have the chutzpah to make utopian fantasies of banning a weapon into a campaign which resonates vibrantly. (27) In May 2008, 10,000 people gathered in Tokyo on behalf of retaining Article 9. It is timely to have this visual expression of the development of Japanese law vis-a-vis war, peace, and international leadership.

We live in menacing yet fascinating times. Norms are sculpting new possibilities. The films discussed in this article have raised anew the consciousness of village cohesiveness, a global village, now set on a mountaintop of new horizons. When thousands attend a rally to protest a military base, (28) it is appropriate to return to the original documents --the Constitution of Japan, specifically Article 9--and honor the integrity therein.

Article 9 holds sway as the Earth's most hopeful legal provision for global unity. It is a Treaty of Amity in a league of its own. It stands as a model to be emulated.


Allison, Graham. 2005. Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Allison, Graham T. 1985. Albert Carnesale, and Joseph S. Nye Jr., eds. Hawks, Doves, and Owls: An Agenda for Avoiding Nuclear War. New York: WW Norton & Company.

Allison, Graham T. and Paul X. Kelley. 2004. Nonlethal Weapons and Capabilities: Report of an Independent Task Force. New York: Council on Foreign Relations.

Ando, Nisuke. 1999. Japan and International Law: Past, Present and Future. The Hague: Kluwer Law International.

Damrosch, Lori Fisler, et al. 2001. International Law: Cases and Materials. 4th ed. St. Paul: West Group Publishing.

Dickie, Mure. 11 Nov. 2009. "Marine Base Strains Japan Ties." Financial Times. Web. 20 Nov. 2009. <http://www.ft.eom/cms/s70/76db4296-ce62-l Ide-alea00144feabdc0.html>.

Dower, John W. 1975. "Recent Japan in Historical Revisionism: Occupied Japan as History and Occupation History as Politics." Journal of Asian Studies 34.2. 485-504.

Dunant, Henry J. 1939. A Memory of Solferino. Wishington D.C.: The American Red Cross.

Feldman, Ofer. 1997. "Culture, Society, and the Individual: Cross-Cultural Political Psychology in Japan." Political Psychology 18.2. 327-353.

Ford, Christopher A. 1996 "The Indigenization of Constitutionalism in the Japanese Experience." Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law. 28.1.3-62.

Fujikura, Koichiro. 1993. "Administering Justice in a Consensus-Based Society: Authority Without Power: Law and the Japanese Paradox." Michigan Law Review 91. 1529-1539

Fukurai, Hiroshi. 2007. "The Rebirth of Japan's Petit Quasi-Jury and Grand-Jury Systems: a Cross-National Analysis of Legal Consciousness and the Lay Participatory Experience in Japan and the US." Cornell International Law Journal 40. 315-354.

"Global Article 9 Declaration to Abolish War.' May 4-6, 2008. Global Article Campaign. Web. 18 Nov. 2009. < pdf>.

Gluck, Carol. 1991. "The 'Long Postwar': Japan and Germany in Common and in Contrast." Legacies and Ambiguities: Postwar Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan. Eds. Schlant, Ernestine and Rimer, J. Thomas. 1991. Wishington D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press. 63-78.

Haley, John Owen. 1994. Authority Without Power: Law and the Japanese Paradox. New York: Oxford University Press.

Haley, John Owen. 1982. "Sheathing the Sword of Justice in Japan: An Essay on Law Without Sanctions." Journal of Japanese Studies 8.2. 265-281.

Hardacre, Helen. 1989. Shinto and the State: 1868-1988. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Kidder, Tracy. 2009. Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness. New York: Random House.

Ki-Moon, Ban. "Statement to the Geneva Lecture: Resetting the nuclear disarmament agenda." Geneva (Switzerland): 5 Oct. 2009. UN News Center. Web. 20 Nov. 2009 < asp?statID=613#>.

Lessig, Laurence. 1951. "The Regulation of Social Meaning." The University of Chicago Law Review 62. 943-1045.

Levin, Mark. 2009. "Continuities of Legal Consciousness: Professor John Haley's Writings on Twelve Hundred Years of Japanese Legal History." Washington University Global Studies Law Review 8.2. 317-332.

Milhaupt, Curtis J., et al. 2001. Japanese Law in Context: Readings in Society, the Economy, and Politics. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Miwa, Yoshiro, and J. Mark Ramseyer. 2009. "The Good Occupation? Law in the Allied Occupation of Japan." Washington University Global Studies Law Review 8.2. 363-378.

Nahory, Celine. ed. "Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War." Article 9 Campaign. Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish Wir / Peace Boat. Newsletter 19. Web. 19 Nov. 2009. <http ://>.

Oros, Andrew L. 2008. Normalizing Japan: Politics, Identity, and the Evolution of Security Practice, Studies in Asian Security. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

"President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address." The White House, 21 Jan. 2009. Web. 22 Nov. 2009. <>.

Ramseyer, J. Mark. 2009. "John Haley and the American Discovery of Japanese Law." Washington University Global Studies Law Review 8:2. 213-221.

Ramseyer, J. Mark, and Minoru Nakazato. 2000. Japanese Law: An Economic Approach. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

richardrozoff [Rick Rozoff]. "Former Axis Nations Abandon Post-World War II Military Restrictions." StopNato, 2 Sept. 2009. Web. 8 Nov. 2009.

Root, Elihu. New York, 1 Oct. 1917. "Japan and the United States." International Conciliation. Address.

Julia Quincy, Harvard Law School

(1) Treaty of Amity, Japan Society Archives. New York, New York. United States of America.

(2) Narrative of The Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the command of Commodore M.C. Perry, United States Navy, compiled by Francis L. Hawks, by order of the government of the United States, 1856. Treaty of Amity, First Edition, inscribed "To Townsend Hughes with the kind regards of M.C. Perry, 1856." As the Treaty of Kanagawa was the first formal instrument of the kind ever negotiated by the Empire of Japan, according to usages of international law, with any Christian nation, it has been thought advisable to preserve a facsimile in this Report of the original document." Volume 2, page 415.

(3) "President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address," The White House, 21 Jan. 2009, Web, 22 Nov. 2009 <>.

(4) "Remarks by President Barack Obama in Prague, Czech Republic," The White House, 5 April 2009, Web, 19 Nov. 2009 office/Remarks-By-President-Barack-Obama-In-Prague_As-Delivered/.

(5) See footnote 4.

(6) Feldman, Ofer. 1997. "Culture, Society, and the Individual: Cross-Cultural Political Psychology in Japan." Political Psychology 18.2. 331.

(7) Sunstein, Cass R. 1996. "Social Norms and Social Roles." Columbia Law Review 96. 903

(8) Sunstein 945.

(9) Sunstein 903.

(10) Sunstein 903.

(11) Sunstein 931.

(12) Haley, John Owen. 1994. Authority Without Power: Law andJapanese Paradox. New York: Oxford University Press. 183.

(13) Constitution of Japan. National Diet Library < constitution/e/etc/c01.>

(14) Carol Gluck. 1991. "The 'Long Postwar': Japan and Germany in Common and in Contrast," Legacies and Ambiguities: Postwar Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan. Schlant, Ernestine and Rimer, J. Thomas, eds. Washington D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press. 63-78.

(15) Helen Hardacre. 1989. Shinto and the State: 1868-1988. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 140-141.

(16) Lori Damrosch, et al. 2001. International Law: Cases and Materials, 4th ed. St. Paul: West Group Publishing. "The Caroline." Secretary of State, Daniel Webster, described self-defense in the course of a communication to the British Minister, August 6, 1842. 922-923.

(17) Dunant, J. Henry. 1939. A Memory of Solferino. Washington, D.C.: The American Red Cross. The American Red Cross, 1939, issued in commemoration for the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the first signing of the Treaty of Geneva, 1864.

(18) Kidder, Tracy. 2009. Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness. New York: Random House. 241-242.

(19) Baker, Peter and Krauss, Clifford. 2009. "President, at Service, Hails Fort Hood's Fallen." New York Times, 11 Nov. 2009. 1. <http://www.nytimes. com/2009/11/11/us/11hood.html>.

(20) Final Report, Research Commission on the Constitution, The House of Representatives, Japanese Diet, April 2005, viii. This eight hundred page comprehensive document representing five years of evaluation in considering constitutional revision may be found at New York University Law School Library.

(21) Over 7,000 organizations within and outside Japan, Peace Philosophy Center: An Article 9 Event in Toronto <http://peacephilosophy.blogspot. com/2009/04/article-9-event-in-toront.html> the first American serving as head of the Hiroshima Memorial Center.

(22) Ki-Moon, Ban. "Statement to the Geneva Lecture: Resetting the nuclear disarmament agenda." Geneva (Switzerland): 5 Oct. 2009. UN News Center. Web, 20 Nov. 2009. < asp?statID=613#.>.

(23) Miwa, Yoshiro and Ramseyer, J. Mark. 2009. "The Good Occupation? Law in the Allied Occupation of Japan." Washington University Global Studies Law Review 8. 363. See also John W. Dower 1975. "Recent Japan in Historical Revisionism: Occupied Japan as History and Occupation History as Politics." Journal of Asian Studies 34. 485-486.

(24) Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates delivered at the Center of Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C., January 26, 2008. United States Department of Defense News 25 Mar. 2008, Web, 20 Nov. 2009 <http://www.>.

(25) Allison, Graham. 2005. Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe. New York: Henry Holt and Company. 176-177.

(26) Allison 183.

(27) Allison 208.

(28) Mure Dickie. November 11, 2009. "Marine Base Strains Japan Ties." Financial Times. Web, 20 Nov. 2009 < lea-001444feabdc0.html>.
COPYRIGHT 2011 The Asian Studies Development Program's Association of Regional Centers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Quincy, Julia
Publication:East-West Connections: Review of Asian Studies
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:90ASI
Date:Jan 1, 2011
Previous Article:Resistance, adaptation, and transformation: how global forces shaped religion in South Asia.
Next Article:Critical and popular reception in China of films on the Nanjing massacre.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |