Article 9 is a section in the new 1946 Japanese constitution which amended completely the old Meiji constitution. One of the objectives of the Allied Occupation was to demilitarize Japan so that it could never again go to war. After the demobilization of the Japanese military, Article 9 was added to the constitution with the following:
1. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.
2. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.
Although it was the Occupation which composed most of the ideas and words in the new constitution, the initiative for Article 9 appears to have come from the Japanese side. Prime Minister Shidehara suggested the idea to the Occupation, perhaps hoping to gain favor. In any case, the idea was accepted after the Japanese suggested slight changes in the wording. By 1948 or 1949, the Occupation was changing over to the reverse course and was beginning to want Japan to become more independent and a part of the anti-communist camp. Thus, the Occupation began to urge the Japanese government to create a military organization of some sort.
This was the beginning of the Self Defense Force (SDF) and the legal and political questions surrounding it. Left-wing opponents of the conservative parties in Japan argue that Article 9 prohibits not only war as a national policy, but maintaining any kind of military force too. The government, controlled from 1955 to 1993 by the Liberal-Democratic Party, has always maintained that a defensive force was permissible under Article 9. Opponents have never given up the struggle: in 1991 and 1992 the LDP government was embarrassed by international pressure to contribute to the Gulf War against Iraq and in United Nations peacekeeping missions. It sought to pass a law which would permit up to 2000 Japanese troops to serve in UN missions; the opposition tried every parliamentary means to prevent passage, but the law did finally gain approval in June 1992. Challenges in courts against the Self Defense Force have been numerous and have resulted in findings against the constitutional legality of the SDF on occasion; government appeals to higher courts have always succeeded in gaining reversal.