コロナ時代の日本国憲法と民主主義 The Constitution of Japan and Democracy in the COVID-19 Era

河上 暁弘(准教授)

English Below

*この記事は『Hiroshima Research News』59号に掲載されたものです。

1.新型コロナと民主主義の危機

世界中で新型コロナウィルスの感染拡大が続いている。ウィルスは目に見えない恐怖でありそれが人々の不安を増幅している。

こうした中で、自分のことが不安すぎて、政治や社会のことを考える余裕がない、考えるという営み自体がしんどい、そして、こんな時こそ強いリーダーに全てを委ねたくなる。近年ただでさえ権威主義型あるいはポピュリズム型のリーダーの台頭が著しいのに、新型コロナはこうした危険な兆候をさらに進めるように見える。

自由か安全かというのは、古くからあるテーマだが、新型コロナの恐怖の前には、安全の名の下の過度な自由制限が進む危険性がある。さらに個人情報との関係では、スマホアプリによる行動履歴等が政府によって収集・利用され、しかもそれらのビッグデータがAIの活用によって潜在的犯罪者等の予測や個人信用スコアに使われ、著しい差別・社会的排除が生じる危険もある。

また、新型コロナ対応という危機状況・例外状況で政府が手にした強権を今後とも手放そうとせず、人々も恐怖から逃れるためならば、監視・管理社会を受け入れ、自由を制限することに疑問を感じなくなる危険性もある。これは民主主義の根幹を揺るがす「緊急事態」である。

2.新型コロナと憲法上の権利

日本国憲法13条は、生命の権利と個人の尊重を規定している。25条は、すべての国民に「健康で文化的な最低限度の生活を営む権利」があることを規定し、国は公衆衛生等を向上・増進すべきことを定めている。

今回の新型コロナの感染拡大は、法的には「災害」とも同様の扱いをしうるような生命と健康の重大な危機であり、例外的に移動や営業の自由等が必要最小限度内で制限されることは、「公共の福祉」に基づく憲法も許容する制限とも言えそうだが、もちろん無制限な制限が許されるわけではない。

むしろ、無症状者・軽症状者を含む人々のPCR等の検査体制の不備やこれまでの医療費削減政策等により、医療を通じた国民の生命・健康の権利を十分に保障できない事態が問題となっている。

また、政府によって、補償を十分することなく外出・移動や営業の「自粛」の「要請」が行われている。この「自粛」が同調圧力の中で事実上の強制として機能しているが、もし、あくまでも「自粛」なので、本人たちの自発的判断にすぎない、補償は必要ないという政策がとられれば、生活のためにはやむを得ないとして営業や出勤を続けざるを得ない人々による感染拡大、そして経営破綻や経済的貧困を止めることはできない。補償を行うことが感染防止策でもあること、また、近年の新自由主義政策で、非正規雇用労働者の大量創出、貧困・格差社会化が進み、どんな状況・条件でも働かなければ住むところもなくなる、明日の命もつなげないような大量の人々が存在することへの認識が必要であり、「補償なくして自粛なし」の視点が重要であろう。

また、25条の「文化」的な生活を営む権利から導かれる文化・芸術支援、26条の「ひとしく教育を受ける権利」から導かれる質の高い学びと経済的にも安心して学校生活を送れることを保障するための政策が緊急に必要である。

3.憲法改正による「緊急事態条項」創設は必要か

なお、政権内には、法律上の「緊急事態宣言」では対応が十分できないなどとして、憲法を改正して「緊急事態条項」を設けようとする意見もあるが、それは、首相・行政府の判断で、憲法を一時停止して首相・行政府に権力を集中して国民の自由・人権を(しばしば補償もなく)全面的・包括的に制限することを可能とするものである。

こうした国家権限は、不当な目的で発動されやすく、期限も無制限に延長される危険性があり、またその権限行使の妥当性を他の国家機関や国民が判断し停止することも困難を極める。報道や言論が制限されれば、批判することさえできなくなる危険性もある。

むしろ、あくまでも憲法の範囲内でその理念を活かし人権をいかに確実に保障するかという発想が必要ではないだろうか。それは、たとえ移動や営業等の自粛要請ないし制限を行う場合であっても、専門知によるエビデンスと事後検証を前提に、生命・健康を守るための例外的・必要最小限度にとどまる、しかも補償とセットになったものでなければならない。

むしろ、誰もが弱者・犠牲者になり得るこの時代にこそ、国家権力統治優先でも弱肉強食でも分断・孤立でもなく、一番弱く困窮している人をいかに救うかという発想が求められるだろう。憲法は、公共のためとして特定の人を犠牲にして顧みない社会・政治ではなく、個人を尊重し、その個人が連帯して、必要があれば政府を動かし、みんながみんなを助け合う社会・政治を要請している。不幸な境遇にある人を一人もつくらない―それこそが憲法13条・25条の理念であると私は考える。

The Constitution of Japan and Democracy in the COVID-19 Era

KAWAKAMI, Akihiro (Associate Professor)

 *This article is from Hiroshima Research News #59

Emergence of the novel coronavirus and the crisis of democracy


The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been spreading throughout the world. The fact that the virus is invisible has added to people’s anxiety.

In these circumstances, people may feel too insecure about their own wellbeing to think of politics and issues of public concern, even feeling that the act of thinking itself is a burden. At times like this, people want to entrust everything to a strong leader. Recent years have seen the rapid emergence of authoritarian or populist leaders. The COVID-19 pandemic seems to be accelerating this dangerous trend.

Which is more important—freedom or security? This is an old question, but the fear of coronavirus can bring about excessive restrictions on freedom in the name of security. With regard to personal information, moreover, governments may collect and use personal data and location history using a smartphone app—even worse, such big data, combined with artificial intelligence (AI), may be used to identify potential criminals or generate each individual’s personal credit score, eventually leading to unfair discrimination or social exclusion.

In the future, governments may be unwilling to give up the ultimate authority they have obtained during the crisis and exceptional situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The public may also be willing to accept mass surveillance and government control to escape from fear and become insensitive to excessive restrictions on freedom. This creates a state of emergency that shakes the very foundations of democracy.

COVID-19 and constitutional rights

Article 13 of the Constitution of Japan stipulates the right to life and the right of people to be respected as individuals. Article 25 states that all people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living, and requires the government to promote and extend public health, etc.

The spread of COVID-19 infections poses a grave risk to the lives and health of the people, which can be treated similarly to a natural disaster from the standpoint of the law. Minimum restrictions exceptionally placed on the freedom of movement and business may be allowed for the sake of public welfare, as set forth in the Constitution—although unlimited restrictions cannot be allowed.

Rather, the problem is that the people’s right to life and health has not been guaranteed in terms of medical care, due to a poor PCR testing system for patients (including asymptomatic carriers and those with minor symptoms) and the central government’s medical expenditure reduction policy.

Moreover, the national government has called on people to refrain from leaving home or moving around and on businesses to refrain from operating without adequately providing compensation. The government’s requests for voluntary restraint have been acting virtually as a compulsory measure through peer pressure. However, if the government implements a policy of allowing the people to exercise self-control at their own discretion without providing any compensation, some people will continue to operate their business or attend work in order to make a living, thereby further spreading the coronavirus and eventually leading to more business failures and economic poverty. The government needs to understand that compensation will be an effective infection prevention measure and recognize that as a result of the recent neoliberal policies that have brought about an enormous number of non-regular employees and a larger wealth gap in society, there are many people who would have no home or food if they were unable to work. It is important to take measures from the perspective that “without compensation, there will be no voluntary restraints.”

It is also an urgent matter to design measures to provide support to cultural and artistic institutions guaranteeing the right to maintain the minimum standards of cultured living, as enshrined in Article 25 of the Constitution of Japan, and to ensure quality and affordable education, and guaranteeing the right to receive an equal education, as enshrined in Article 26 of the Constitution.

Whether it is necessary to revise the Constitution of Japan to create a provision for dealing with national emergencies

Some politicians within the government emphasize the importance of revising the Constitution to create a provision for dealing with national emergencies, saying that a state of emergency as declared under current Japanese law is not sufficient in responding to emergency situations. This means that it would be possible for the prime minister and the administration to suspend the Constitution and concentrate power into their own hands to fully and comprehensively limit citizens’ liberty and human rights (often without any compensation).

Such power belonging to the state could be easily used for an unintended purpose, and the period in which it would be used could be limitlessly extended. It would make it difficult for other state organs or the people to determine the appropriateness of the use of such state power and move to limit or stop it. Restrictions on freedom of the press and speech would deprive the people of opportunities to criticize.

Instead, we need to consider how the principles of the Constitution can be fully implemented within its present scope to ensure that human rights are guaranteed. When a voluntary ban or restrictions are imposed on movements or businesses, they should be implemented as an exceptional and minimal measure to safeguard the life and health of people, based on expert evidence and follow-up review, and they should also be accompanied by compensation.

In an era when anyone could become underprivileged or fall victim to the virus, it is necessary to think about how the most vulnerable people can be saved, rather than placing priority on state sovereignty or considering the law of the jungle or the issue of segmentation and isolation. The Constitution requires the state and its people to achieve a society and politics that respects individuals and enables them to work together and pressure the government if necessary, rather than a society and politics that sacrifices certain people for the benefit of the public. I believe that the principle of Articles 13 and 25 of the Constitution of Japan is that no one should be ill-treated.