The Italian Law Journal | ItaLJ

3 THE ITALIAN LAW JOURNAL NO. 2 (2017)

Godzilla and the Japanese Constitution: A Comparison Between Italy and Japan

by Yuichiro Tsuji

The Japanese movie ‘Godzilla’ illuminated controversial issues related to the existence of the Self Defense Force (SDF) under the current Japanese Constitution. In this movie, the Japanese Government sent the SDF, emergency power, and leadership of the prime minister to fight against an external enemy, Godzilla. Under the Act Concerning Measures for the Protection of the People in Armed Attack Situations, Etc (Buryoku Kougeki JItai hou, AASRA), the cabinet may send the SDF to use force against an external enemy, with parliament’s approval. Godzilla allegedly met the requirements to send in the SDF. This paper questions whether the legal assertion on which the decision was based was valid. One well-known Japanese politician, Shigeru Ishiba, doubts the validity, arguing that Godzilla was an extraordinary natural disaster, not an enemy. Thus, the SDF should have been dispatched to provide safety and relief at the request of the governors of the prefectures, and not for the use of force against an ‘enemy’. Godzilla was the unintended product of thermonuclear testing near Bikini Atoll, but not just a dinosaur or a terrible monster. This tale served to shed light on many problems in Japanese society, such as economic crises and climate change.
After the 2015 political shift, constitutional scholars in Japan were compelled to explain the role of the SDF from the perspective of constitutionalism and the role of judicial review outside Japan. For instance, it should be noted that there is no provision for emergencies under the Japanese Constitution. This paper helps to provide a better understanding of these issues for Japan and other countries.

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