It is sometimes said that the Constitution of Japan is like the pocket of Doraemon. This refers to Article 13, which stipulates the “right to the pursuit of happiness.” This is the article based on which many new human rights to be guaranteed have emerged in response to changes in our society. These new human rights should be included in the new Constitution. At the same time, it is necessary for us to consider how to define the “responsibility of the Japanese people” and the “roles of Japan and its people” in order for the Japanese people, as the sovereign, to be involved in the national administration and for the creation of the best possible Japan.
1. Expand New Human Rights!
In the Constitution of Japan, human rights are enshrined, surprisingly, in 31 articles, from Articles 10 to 40. For comparison, national security is dealt with in only one article, a very clear difference. There are, however, many human rights to be added in response to changes in our society that have occurred over the roughly 70 years since the enactment of the Constitution of Japan.
Firstly, the most remarkable change between the enactment of Japan’s Constitution and the present day is the informatization of society. In this advanced information society, what should be protected is the “right to control one’s personal information that is managed by third parties, such as municipal governments.”
Secondly, the public’s “right to know” is the foundation of the popular sovereignty that defines democracy. To protect this right, the right of Japanese people to request access to information should be included in the Constitution and it should be stipulated that, when requested, the country is required to “appropriately disclose” the information.
Furthermore, intellectual property rights, personal rights, and rights of the victims of crime are rights that were not envisioned by the framers of the Constitution of Japan back in the day. Human rights that have become important enough to be protected by the Constitution should be included in the Constitution in as great a number as possible.
2. Define the Responsibility of the Country for Environmental Protection to Achieve a Sustainable Society!
The current Constitution of Japan does not include any provisions regarding the protection and conservation of the natural environment. This is because when the Constitution was enacted environmental issues were yet to emerge. Today, however, global environmental protection has become extremely important. When we look at other constitutions, out of 100 countries that have enacted new constitutions since the 1990s, an impressive 90 of them include provisions on environmental protection. To guarantee the conservation of the global environment, which is something that contemporary people cannot avoid, Japan’s responsibility should be defined.
3. Stipulate that Freedoms and Rights Come with Responsibilities and Obligations!
While the Constitution of Japan meticulously defines the rights of the Japanese people, it does not provide much detail about their responsibilities. It is obvious, however, that freedoms and rights come with responsibilities and obligations. From the perspective of present-day constitutions that are positioned as a basic law that specifies what the country should look like and the basic values of society, the Constitution should include a stipulation that freedoms and rights come with self-responsibilities and that the people have obligations to society. Under the current Constitution, the only basis for restricting human rights is “the public welfare.” The Constitution should specify the public welfare and stipulate that the restriction can be justified.
4. Stipulate the Importance of Education and the National Responsibilities in the Constitution!
With limited territory and without natural resources, for Japan to be sustainable and continue its development into the future, it will need to depend on its greatest resource: its people. The Constitution of Japan should stipulate the importance of education in developing people from the perspective that a constitution is “a basic law that specifies what a country should look like and the basic values of society.” The current Constitution of Japan only guarantees the right of the people to receive education and to receive compulsory education free of charge. The Constitution should stipulate the national responsibility for education as a basis for applying dynamic measures targeting senior high school and university education.