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Newly found manuscript by postwar PM sheds light on high hopes for Article 9

Former Prime Minister Kijuro Shidehara
A page from the newly discovered manuscript by former Prime Minister Kijuro Shidehara including a passage on "explicit and solemn constitutional provisions" is seen in this photo provided by former Miyagi Gov. Shuntaro Honma.

KAMI, Miyagi -- Japan's pacifist Constitution was forged through intense negotiations between postwar Prime Minister Kijuro Shidehara and the U.S.-led General Headquarters (GHQ) occupation administration -- a process Shidehara recounts in a manuscript discovered recently here.

"By the means of explicit and solemn constitutional provisions, the new Japan has renounced war and abandoned all armaments," writes Shidehara (1872-1951), a two-time prewar foreign minister who served as prime minister from October 1945 to May 1946. This is but one passage conveying Shidehara's thoughts on the Constitution, making the manuscript an invaluable primary source for historians.

The document was in the possession of former Miyagi Gov. Shuntaro Honma, 78, who said his father and late House of Representatives lawmaker Shunichi Honma had received it from Shidehara's surviving family. The junior Honma said he found the manuscript while sorting his father's possessions, and will soon donate it to the National Diet Library.

Titled "Nento zakkan (beginning-of-the-year musings)," the nine-page, A5-sized document appears to be a script for a radio broadcast. It has no date or signature, but passages including those referring to the then imminent San Francisco Peace Treaty conference of September 1951 suggest it was penned that year, when Shidehara was the lower house speaker.

In one section Rikkyo University professor emeritus Kentaro Awaya says likely concerns Shidehara's thoughts on the Constitution's war-renouncing Article 9, the former prime minister writes, "Through this, the lives of the people will be improved, and it will also contribute to universal human happiness." Furthermore, Shidehara writes, "the most effective barrier saving our nation from aggression by other foreign powers will be, above all, the power of justice."

(Japanese original by Ken Yamada, Osaki Local Bureau)

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