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AN APPEAL FOR ARTICLE 9
by Brian Covert / Independent Journalist
Saturday Jul 7th, 2007 8:26 AM
On the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, an appeal is made for international action for peace through Article 9, the war-renouncing clause of the Constitution of Japan. (originally published at sf.indymedia.org on 15 August 2005; updated 7 July 2007)
uyoku1698.jpg

(Japanese children crossing a street in Itami, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan on 7 May 2005, amid a heavy police presence and the presence of an estimated 100 cheering, flag-waving rightists in the background. The rightists had turned out to give a warm send-off to several hundred soldiers of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces as the troops departed their nearby garrison for Samawah, Iraq.)



AN APPEAL FOR ARTICLE 9 (commentary)



By Brian Covert
Independent Journalist

HYOGO, JAPAN — Today, August 15 [2005], marks 60 years since the end of World War II, a war that took millions of lives and changed the course of history. All around the world today, it is a time for quietly reflecting on where the human race has been and where it’s bound.

Nowhere is that more true perhaps than here in Japan, which had been both the victimizer and the victim in that war. Sixty years on, Japan has yet to deal as a nation with the magnitude of the killing and suffering it caused in neighboring Asian nations and elsewhere; the same can also be said of the United States and its horrendous atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and every war that America has waged around the world since then.

But this special day of remembrance marks not only a time of much-needed reflection on the most basic issues of life and death, peace and war. It is also marks a time for much-needed action.

This action, I believe, could be in the form of some concrete steps that can be taken to join together with people from different cultures and nations in a common global cause. I would like to make an appeal here for one of those steps on the road to a common international action: Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution.

The two paragraphs of Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan, enacted in 1947 in the ashes of World War II, read in their entirety:

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 means of settling international disputes. / 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.

The Importance of Article 9

The question naturally arises: Why is Article 9 important to us all today, more than a half-century after it was written? There are several reasons.

First of all, Article 9 serves to balance the scales of justice in favor of peace and against war. Article 9 gives the world another choice beyond that offered by the Bush regime in its threat of “you are either with us or you are with the terrorists.” The world need not choose between two sides of terrorism. Article 9 offers a real and viable alternative for all people by offering the practical alternative of building peaceful societies.

Secondly, Article 9 seeks to break the vicious circle of vengeance that wars and war economies thrive on. For example, for the countries — especially in Asia — that were ravaged by the Japanese military’s fascist fantasies of global domination, Article 9 has served as a source of postwar political stability in nipping militarism in the bud. The global circle of violence must be broken and replaced in our time with one of peace and understanding among all nations. Article 9 takes us closer to that goal.

Thirdly, Article 9 works to build upon true economic prosperity by discouraging military buildup and encouraging societies to devote their budgets to peacetime development. That has certainly been true in postwar Japan, which owes its economic prosperity in great part to its “Peace Constitution,” as it is referred to here. Along with addressing the moral roots of war, we must realistically begin to address the economic roots of war as well. Article 9 allows us to do just that.

Fourthly, Article 9 builds upon the earlier foundations for peace that are already in place. Did you know, for example, that the United States and 61 other nations of the world signed on to the Kellogg-Briand Pact (or Paris Pact), a treaty “providing for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy” that went into effect on 24 July 1929? This pact remains a binding treaty today under international law — and thus technically is still part of the supreme law of the land under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. Japan’s Article 9 can help build upon such legal foundations around the world.

This is all not to say, of course, that Article 9 has been a cure-all for Japan’s problems; it hasn’t. With great encouragement from the U.S. Pentagon over the decades following World War II, Japan is said to have become the world’s fifth-largest military spender. Moreover, the U.S. occupation forces that came into Japan following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have essentially never left: An estimated 45,000 U.S. troops are still stationed at American military “camps” around Japan today, mostly in Okinawa to the south. The U.S. military, of course, even now bills the Japanese government for most of those American military expenses in Japan. All this has happened despite the existence of Article 9 in the Japanese Constitution.

But at the same time, it is no exaggeration to say that without Article 9 in place in Japan, the international community would have been much less stable over these past decades and the ambitions of Japan’s militarists would have resurfaced much earlier.

Militarism Resurfaces

“Resurface”? Yes, it’s true: Sixty years after the end of World War II, Japanese militarism is surfacing once again — this time in the form of assistance in fighting America’s so-called “war on terrorism.” Under pressure from the U.S., Japan — the country that once suffered the atomic genocide of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — has sent hundreds of young soldiers of its Self-Defense Forces to Samawah, Iraq, to help shore up the American occupation. Samawah is an area of Iraq recently found by former U.S. military scientist Dr. Asaf Durakovic to have high levels of deadly depleted uranium (DU) contamination from weapons used by the U.S. in its illegal March 2003 invasion of Iraq. The atomic bombings have come full circle.

Along with that, the arch-conservative Japanese government, using current Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi as its frontman, is making all-out efforts to change Article 9. The reason? Ostensibly to make it easier for Japan to dispatch its military to any overseas location at any time without any say by the Japanese public. The new U.S. ambassador to Japan, a George W. Bush loyalist named Thomas Schieffer, has been explicit in his expectations that Japan’s Self-Defense Forces play an even stronger role in helping America fight its so-called “war on terrorism” in Iraq. And Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi, backed up by the rising neo-conservative forces in Japan’s government, are more than ready to bow to the demands of the warlords in Washington.

It is against this backdrop that vibrant citizens’ movements have been growing recently in Japan to stand up and protect Article 9 from being changed in any way. People from all walks of life in Japan — students, teachers, retirees, actors and actresses, labor union members, musicians, scholars, politicians, business owners, NPO volunteers, activists, authors and more — are standing up together and making their voices heard in Japanese society in favor of protecting Article 9. These are thriving citizens’ movements, where the real meaning of democracy can be truly seen and felt at local levels throughout Japan.

But we are far from being in the safe zone. Japan’s corporate-dominated mainstream news media, like others elsewhere in the world, have mostly ignored these calls for peace. The Japanese government, under pressure from Bush and his neo-conservative cronies, is steadily chipping away at the war-renouncing clause of Article 9, with many in Japan seeing it as just a matter of time before Article 9 crumbles under the weight of U.S imperialism. The irony is that America was the one that helped give birth to Article 9, and now, nearly 60 years later, America may well be the one to kill it off.

That is why, at this crucial hour, many of us in these pro-Article 9 citizen movements in Japan see an urgent, immediate need to reach out to brothers and sisters around the world for solidarity and support — not in the form of money but in the form of your voices and organizing efforts.

Let us use Japan’s Article 9 for the reason it was originally created: to prevent future wars and stop militarism. Rather than helplessly stand by and watch the Peace Constitution of Japan die a quiet death 60 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, let us work together anew to spread the seeds of Article 9-type guarantees throughout the countries of the world. Yes, it can be done.

If your conscience moves you to do so, here are some practical, concrete steps you can take today:

• Find out more about Article 9. It is important as a first step to understand what Article 9 is, how it came about, why it has been an important part of world peace so far, and why it is worth protecting and spreading around the world. Some recent news reports concerning Article 9 are listed below to help get you started. A web search will offer you a wealth of other websites providing useful information on Article 9.

• Sign a petition calling for the protection of Article 9 and for the withdrawl of Japanese military forces from Iraq. The petition has gotten off to a good start but the momentum must be kept going. Simply follow the directions in filling in the information (in English or Japanese), including your personal message to Prime Minister Koizumi. The sponsor of the petition, the Japan-based Global Peace Campaign, has pledged to deliver the voices of peace collected here to the office of the prime minister of Japan. [Note: The petition signing period has since expired.]

• Pass this appeal around to whoever and wherever you can. Every person who reads this appeal counts as a potential voice in support of Article 9 and for peace.

• Make contact. A few of the Article 9 movement organizations within and outside Japan are listed below. Make contact with them and let them know that you too are standing up in support of Article 9. Some of the Japanese sites don’t have English webpages, but they all have e-mail contact listings. Don’t let the language barrier deter you!

• Consider creating an Article 9 for your own country. Article 9 stands as a testament to the possibilities of peace for the entire world, not just for Japan. By replacing the words “the Japanese people” with your own nationality, you have the basis of a war-renouncing clause that can be applied to your own country’s circumstances. Dare to imagine, if you will, what could happen in many nations of the world (especially the USA) if governments were legally bound to such war-renouncing clauses by their own citizens.

In closing, if the memory of millions of those who needlessly died 60 years ago in the rubble and ashes of a not-so-distant war are to mean anything, then this appeal on behalf of Article 9 must somehow be a beginning, not an end. If the voices of young people and old people today are going to mean something now, then let it be in defense of peace and prosperity for all people instead of war and wealth for the greedy few.

And if the voices for peace and peaceful prosperity everywhere are to ring out loudly in the future, then let it be a vision of tomorrow based on true brotherhood and sisterhood, not on concepts of “divide and conquer” and delirious dreams of global domination. We all live on the same Mother Earth and together we must find ways to keep on living here in harmony.

Postscript:

Much has been happening in Japan concerning Article 9 since this appeal was first published on 15 August 2005, the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

As the updated news website links below indicate, the government of Japan has been moving fast and furiously to weaken the remaining vestiges of Japan’s beloved “Peace Constitution.” Now that a new, hard-core neo-conservative, Shinzo Abe, is the prime minister of Japan, the game seems fixed: With the Bush administration’s blessing, the government of Japan is set to hold a national referendum in 2010 on whether to “amend” Article 9, ostensibly to allow Japan to send its Self-Defense Forces anywhere in the world in support of the U.S. “war on terrorism.” The strict terms of the referendum seem almost guaranteed to work in the government’s favor.

Is this the end of Article 9? The only thing standing in the way of the Japanese government’s plans to do away with the war-renouncing clause in the Constitution is the Japanese people. Public opinion in Japan so far has been strongly in favor of keeping Article 9, and that is a big plus in favor of constitutional democracy in Japan. A big minus, however, is the existence of a corporate-dominated “news media wall” in Japan that stands between the Japanese public itself and the issue of Article 9 — a wall of media silence or reluctance to truly inform the people about how precious Article 9 is and how calamitous it will be for Japan, and indeed the world, to lose Article 9. And of course, there is also the continued U.S. government pressure on the ultra-rightist government leaders of Japan to toe the line on the “war on terrorism.”

Anything can happen in three years, and if Japanese public opinion against changing Article 9 is to stay strong, it will need the strong support of peace-loving people around the world as well. That is where you come in: Read this appeal through once more, check out the updated website links, and if your conscience still moves you to do so, pass it on to as many people around the world as you can.

A former defense minister of Japan, who recently resigned, has said that the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 could not be helped, given the geopolitical situation at the time. If such an atomic genocide is to be considered a crime against humanity, as it certainly must be, then remarks like that from public officials that insult the dignity of victims of war anywhere in the world should also be held to account. It is time for people of good conscience everywhere — regardless of religious, political or cultural differences — to stand up together and put an end to this madness of globalized militarism.

I end this updated appeal with the same words I used to end the original version two years ago in 2005, on the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII:

Consider giving true peace a chance by giving Article 9 a chance in our time.

________________________________________

Brian Ohkubo Covert is an independent journalist based in Hyogo, Japan, and a member of the western Japan chapter of the Peace Constitution League.



NEWS STORIES ON ARTICLE 9 AND RELATED ISSUES:

"Article 9 hindering U.S. ties, bid for UNSC seat: Armitage"
Japan Times, 23 July 2004

"Article 9 a UNSC-bid hurdle: Powell"
Japan Times Weekly, 21 August 2004

"Japan extends its military reach"
BBC News, 10 December 2004

"Article 9 changes could threaten regional security: NGOs"
Japan Times, 5 February 2005

"Schieffer calls troop cut unrealistic"
Japan Times, 21 July 2005

"End run around civilian control" (editorial)
Japan Times, 28 July 2005

"Thousands gather in support of retaining pacifist Article 9"
Japan Times, 31 July 2005

"Mourning pacifism in Hiroshima"
International Herald Tribune, 8 August 2005

"60 years after its defeat, Japan still struggles with responsibility"
International Herald Tribune, 15 August 2005

"Japan’s LDP begins overhaul of pacifist Constitution"
AP/Reuters/AFP, 23 November 2005

"Constitution survey shows 77% oppose changing Article 9"
Japan Times, 4 May 2006

"Japan’s Parliament endorses referendum on constitutional change"
International Herald Tribune, 14 May 2007

"Japan’s Revolution is Far Too Quiet"
Foreign Policy, May 2007


ORGANIZATIONS / WEBSITES WORKING TO PROTECT ARTICLE 9:

Article 9 Association (Kyu-jo no Kai)
Founders of this support group include Kenzaburo Oe, winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Literature, and author/activist Makoto Oda.
—English pages:
http://www.9-jo.jp/en/index_en.html
http://www.9-jo.jp/en/appeal_en.html
http://www.9-jo.jp/en/profile_en.html
—Japanese page: http://www.9-jo.jp/

Article 9 Society (Dai Kyu-jo no Kai)
Group founded by Dr. Charles Overby, a U.S.-based scholar and war veteran
—English page: http://www.article9society.org/
—Japanese page: http://www.a9s.org/japannet_002.htm

Global Article 9 Campaign
Cosponsored by the Japanese NGO “Peace Boat” and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC). Features info on Article 9 and a link to a petition you can sign in support of Article 9.
—English page: http://www.article-9.org/english/index.html
—Japanese page: http://www.article-9.org/jp/index.html

Institute for Global and Cosmic Peace (Chikyu Uchu Heiwa Kenkyu-sho)
A research institute that focuses on social and political issues, including Article 9.
—English/Japanese page: http://www.igcpeace.org/archives/88

Kenpo Angya no Kai (lit.: “Constitution Pilgrimage Society”)
(no English pages)
http://homepage2.nifty.com/kenpou/

Kenpo Kaigi (lit.: “Constitutional Congress”)
(no English pages)
http://www.kenpoukaigi.gr.jp/

Magazine 9 (Magajin Kyu-jo)
—English page: http://www.magazine9.jp/english/index.html
—Japanese page: http://www.magazine9.jp/index.html

Peace Constitution League (Kenpo Kyu-jo Sekai e Mirai e Renraku Kai)
(no English pages)
http://9joren.net/




§Iraq Bound
by Brian Covert / Independent Journalist Saturday Jul 7th, 2007 8:26 AM
tettai1709.jpg
Japanese Self-Defense Forces troops aboard a bus, waving to cheering rightist supporters on the street as the troops are being transported to the local airport in Itami, Hyogo Prefecture on 7 May 2005. This was one of five buses of the Hankyu Railway Co., a major Japanese train company, that transported 500 SDF troops to the airport that day; from there they headed on to Samawah, Iraq. Samawah is an area of Iraq that has been determined by scientists to have had high levels of deadly depleted uranium (DU) contamination.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Davivid Rothauser
Wednesday Jul 11th, 2007 9:04 AM
Article Nine, America’s Gift To Japan

by David Rothauser

In 1946 The United States Government decided that Japan needed a peace constitution. One was written. It included Article Nine which stated that Japan should never make war again.

Sakini, the Okinawan interpreter for the U.S. Army in John Patrick’s play “Teahouse of the August Moon” reflects on this the most democratic, liberal, anti-war constitution ever devised by man.

“Okinawa very fortunate. Culture brought to us. Not have to leave home for it. Okinawans most eager to be educated by conquerors.
Deep desire to improve friction.
Not easy to learn.
Sometimes painful.
But pain makes man think.
Thought makes man wise.
Wisdom makes life endurable.
So…We tell little story to demonstrate splendid example of benevolent assimilation of democracy by Okinawa.”

The ink had barely dried on Japan’s new constitution when America found herself embroiled in another war, this time in Korea.

“Drop Article Nine of the Constitution,” said Uncle Sam. “Go to war against North Korea.”

Japan went into shock. The American Eagle was acting irrationally. They had just completed a four-year war against Japan, fire-bombed Japan’s largest cities, A-bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, demanded an unconditional surrender—and now wanted Japan to fight for the U.S. against North Korea.

It went against every human rights principle America claimed to stand for—self determination, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” only engage in defensive wars for peace.
Above all Peace for Japan—no more war forever.

Japan had barely dug herself out of the rubble of World War II, could barely feed herself, could hardly treat her radiated victims of Hiroshima-Nagasaki. The physical, psychological and emotional trauma was so huge—and now the Great White father wanted her to tell her people that Article Nine was a mistake?! A lie? Take up arms against her Asian neighbors who already despised her for the atrocities she committed during the war! Send the rag-tag remnants of her thoroughly crushed military back into battle?
Surely this can’t be! The Eagle of Peace must have eaten some bad Sushi. Japan has fallen to an all-time low. It’s an unforgivable sin. Bad Sushi is the only explanation for the Eagle to make such an outlandish request.

The Diet called an emergency meeting.

“Don’t tell the press and the media that America wants us to drop Article Nine. Don’t tell our people. It would cause a national embarrassment. Instead let us cement relations with our benevolent conqueror as though nothing had happened. Instead of dropping it, let us embrace Article Nine as though it is a gift from heaven. But above all feed the Eagle our best Sushi!”

This was done. The result is that Japan has prospered as one of the world’s economic giants and more importantly has lived in peace for 61 years. Not one Japanese soldier has been lost in war since 1945. Not one civilian has suffered the agonies of war since 1945. It is a legacy to be proud of.

What might have happened if Japan had dropped Article Nine in 1950? She most certainly would have gone to war against North Korea—then China. Vietnam would have followed. Japanese soldiers would have been led to the slaughter—just as American soldiers had been led—by a pack of lies. That is fact. The lies are legion. From Roosevelt to Bush II, lie after unmitigated lie. As a sample read former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s book, In Retrospect, which chronicles the lies perpetrated upon the American people by the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations. Add to that the LBJ audio tapes. They corroborate everything that McNamara says.

America lost 34,000 young men in Korea and 58,000 in Vietnam. In addition she lost many thousands more maimed, missing and forgotten. How many Japanese youth would have been sacrificed? It is left to our imagination.

It is not inconceivable that a pattern would have formed, an expectation that Japan would follow America’s lead in the crusade to democratize the world—by force if necessary, and by the tacit threat of nuclear annihilation, necessary or not. Is this the Japan of the 21st Century? Apparently Prime Minister Abe thinks so. Right Wing neo-cons think so. Roughly 50% of the Japanese population thinks so. The Japanese government wants to be rid of Article Nine. This will pave the way for Japan to have a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. It will give them an army capable of making pre-emptive military strikes, an army that will be respected by the world community and an army that will strike fear into the hearts of her Asian neighbors.

The very Constitution that helped establish Japan as a model for peace and prosperity around the world, a model that can project Japan as the number one leader in that sphere could suddenly cast her in the image of an imperial, self-aggrandizing bully still in the shadow of her American protector, if she drops Article Nine.

Is there an alternative? There’s always an alternative. It comes from imagination and the desire to survive. Japan has lived for 61 years under the illusion of American security. That illusion was self-sustaining until the reality of 9/11. America the “protector” was rendered supremely vulnerable by the sudden attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Not only can she no longer protect her friends and allies, she is incapable of protecting her own people. That reality is repeated every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But Japan has a real advantage. The Peace Constitution. By embracing it in 1950 and saying, “No,” to American coercion, Japan took the first step in becoming the world leader for peace. Now Japan has a golden opportunity to inspire other nations to embrace the idea of peace as an organizing principle where non-violence and peace become one and the same. Where the dynamics of non-violence and peace become ingrained in every person’s daily activities, where the spirit of Wa becomes the dominant force in every society. Japan had the power to say, “No,” in 1950. Now she has the power to say, “Yes!” to independence from the illusion of American security. To say, “Yes!” to the abolition of nuclear weapons. To say, “Yes!” to Article Nine and the Peace Constitution. By so doing Japan will become a beacon of hope to the world. Her beacon will unite instead of divide.

May we reflect a moment to the time (1945) when weapons of mass destruction were first introduced. Atomic warfare changed the face of war forever. Nations having nuclear weapons possess the capability of igniting a nuclear holocaust that threatens all life on the planet. Battlefields are obsolete. Conventional weapons are obsolete. The enemy is as much the tiger behind the gates as the tiger at the gates.

The threat of nuclear war has been used as an act of psychological terror since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There is no excuse for it. It is blatant war-mongering at its worst. We, the most powerful nation on earth have the responsibility to lead by example....but we lack the long term vision, imagination and fortitude to take the initiative to lead by alternative means. Force and control is all we want to know.

Peace is an undefined obstacle to world domination.

Now the United States is after the Abe administration to drop Article Nine. The stakes are much higher now for life on the planet than they were in 1950. But the Bush Administration’s gambit is a form of Russian Roulette and they’re gambling with our lives. This initiative should be seen as a warning. A warning to all life-affirming nations and world citizens to sound an alarm. Demand that President Bush take a new initiative to support the Japanese Peace Constitution as a model for world peace, rather than as a convenient tool for world domination. Sixty-one years of peaceful living in the second highest world economy is a powerful incentive to pursue a world free from the threat of nuclear annihilation.




While Government is interpreted as being “for the People,” we, the people have no choice but to follow. Government makes laws, makes foreign policy, enforces laws, enforces foreign policy.

We in the peace movement follow each indignation with a reaction. Until we exercise our Constitutional Right to Government by the people we are doomed to follow. Our peace movements will remain relegated to a hideous dance of death as we protest in the streets while millions are murdered in the name of peace by our imperialist governments.

The stakes are higher now than in 1945. With the continuous development of nuclear weapons all life on the planet is threatened. Our survival is at stake. It is not Japan alone who needs Article Nine. It is the world. Now in America there is a bill before Congress to create a Department of Peace on a Cabinet level in our government. We have never had a Department of Peace. Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich filed this unique bill that would bring balance to our government that has no philosophy for peace, no plans for peace without war and no budget for peace. A Department of Peace would give us a VOICE where there is none.

The Department of Peace as proposed by Dennis Kucinich is an inspiration and a challenge to America as a true super power to lead the way to a world opposed to war, to a world that may live in relative harmony, free from the fear of major wars of mass destruction. To lead in this fashion will take immense courage, a unique vision for the future of humankind and the will to break the bonds of war as a means to an end.

As a second step may I propose that America amends its Constitution to include it’s own version of Article Nine? After all, it is we who created the idea for Japan in 1945. And it has worked for 61 years. We can create one for ourselves too. It will work. A Peace clause in our Constitution might read something like this:

"From this day forth the Government of these United States and its citizens here-in will never more declare war outside of our geographic borders. So too shall this great government and its citizens abolish and destroy the design and planned use of all nuclear weapons including those nuclear weapons stockpiled over the past 50 years. In addition may this amendment put into motion a concerted effort by every Presidential Administration from here unto perpetuity to exercise their leadership by supporting the United Nations and the International Court in law and deed to establish non-violence as an organizing principle by which all nations may live in peace and harmony."

It is here that Japan may play a major role. By keeping Article Nine in her Constitution she will have displayed the strength, vision and courage that America currently lacks. Japan’s fortitude will serve as an impetus for America to live up to its own ideals.

The leadership of this great country has a golden opportunity to lead by example in this respect. We have the power, the resources and the imagination to secure the survival of life on earth. Life is a precious gift. May we live it without fear.
by Brian Covert
Monday Sep 21st, 2015 3:07 AM
For some unknown reason, the original text of this story was deleted, leaving only the photos.

However, interested readers can view the text of this article as it was originally published on this page — now updated to include recent developments and web links — at the following URL:

http://www.inochi-life.net/essays_article9_appeal-e.html

Brian Covert
Hyogo, Japan

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