Oe Critical of Japan’s Increasing Militarism

Writer Kenzaburo Oe has expressed criticism of Japan’s shift toward militarism. The remarks are part of a speech for an upcoming conference in Seoul.

Oe leads a movement of Japanese intellectuals called the “Article 9 Group” dedicated to protecting Article 9 of the Japanese constitution from any revision.

Article 9, which renounces Japan’s right to maintain a military or even use the threat of force as a means of settling international disputes, is the main sticking point in the constitutional amendments.

Japan has skirted the article by referring to its military as Self-Defense Forces, which function exclusively for defensive purposes and is claimed not to possess offensive capabilities.

Japanese leaders have regularly visited Yasukuni shrine, a symbol of Japanese militarism, despite fierce protests by former colonies Korea and China. The shrine in Tokyo honors Japan’s 2.5 million war dead, including convicted World War II class-A war criminals.