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Newly found postwar PM's 'Article 9' scroll favors soft power over armament

Former Prime Minister Kijuro Shidehara (Mainichi)

A long-lost scroll handwritten by postwar Prime Minister Kijuro Shidehara (1872-1951), showing a Chinese poetry that allegedly reflected his feelings toward Article 9 while in office, was recently found by a 57-year-old historian from Chiba Prefecture.

Shidehara navigated negotiations of Japan's pacifist Constitution with the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Allied Powers. Though the details are unknown, he is believed to have agreed to a supreme law, retaining the Imperial system and renouncing war, during secret talks with Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the Tokyo-based GHQ, in January 1946.

The hanging scroll shows a poem composed by a Chinese poet during the Tang dynasty (618-907), which focuses on the concept of national defense that gives more importance to soft power than armament. The poem explains how even the Great Wall of China, which is like an impenetrable fortress, is inferior to the legendary Chinese ruler Emperor Yao's modest palace. Japanese words literally meaning "annotation of Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan" are written on the side.

A newly discovered hanging scroll by former Prime Minister Kijuro Shidehara is seen in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, on Feb. 27, 2019. (Mainichi/Motohiro Negishi)

Tetsuji Okoshi, who found the scroll, assumes Shidehara projected the purpose of Article 9 -- to renounce war and prohibit possessing force -- in the poem. According to experts, a historical source in which Shidehara privately mentions the postwar Japanese Constitution, which was being drafted at the time, is rare.

Okoshi says the scroll was a gift to Shiro Kiuchi (1896-1988), who was in a position tantamount to the current deputy chief Cabinet secretary, and later became a member of the House of Councillors. However, its whereabouts was not known after Shidehara's eldest son wrote in a contribution to a 1981 Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine issue that it was stored in Kiuchi's home. The scroll was finally found at the residence of Kiuchi's bereaved family member.

The historian argues in his book "MacArthur to Shidehara Sori (MacArthur and Prime Minister Shidehara)," published by University Education Press, that Shidehara proposed Article 9 during the 1946 secret talks. His argument is based on MacArthur's testimony and records on explanations Shidehara provided to his close advisers later in life.

According to the contribution, Shidehara allegedly gave the scroll to Kiuchi in March 1946. This overlaps with when the Japanese government was drawing up a draft constitution in response to a draft presented by the GHQ.

"Shidehara showed his pride in proposing Article 9 by handwriting a Chinese poetry with the idea that a monarch's virtue is the key component of security rather than armament," explained Okoshi.

The scroll, which has been donated to a public organization, is scheduled to be exhibited to the general public around this summer.

(Japanese original by Hideo Suzuki, Tokyo Opinion Group)

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