Hundreds of demonstrators gathered Wednesday morning in front of the Diet building in Tokyo in a show of measured outrage as a Lower House special committee voted on the government’s defense bills.
Organized by peace organizations, the gathering took place on the heels of a rally that drew around 20,000 people to Hibiya Park in central Tokyo and a protest by six lawyers’ groups near JR Yurakucho Station, both on Tuesday.
“We have to stop the ‘war legislation,” chanted participants from labor unions and pacifist organizations as banners flapped.
“We will not die for Abe. Don’t send young people to war,” they cried, referring to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Participant Yukie Tomoda, from Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward, said she feared the bills could raise the risk of Japan being involved in war.
“I can’t stand by doing nothing,” the 67-year-old said. “I’d like to do whatever I can” to stop the legislation from being enacted, she added.
Hisako Tsuruta, 61, from Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, said she cannot tolerate the Abe administration’s approach of pressing ahead with the legislation in the face of public opposition.
Recent media polls suggest that a majority of people are dissatisfied with the government’s explanations of why the changes are needed. The surveys found many people opposed the idea of passing the bills during the current Diet session.
An NHK survey conducted from Friday to Sunday showed 56 percent of 1,024 respondents said the Diet had not discussed the bills thoroughly enough, while an Asahi Shimbun poll conducted over the weekend found that 67 percent of 1,875 respondents believe Abe’s explanation of the bills to the public is insufficient.
A poll by Mainichi Shimbun on July 4 and 5 showed 61 percent of 1,036 respondents opposed passage during the current Diet session, and a survey by Yomiuri Shimbun from July 3 to July 5 found 63 percent of 1,041 respondents felt the same way.
Rally participant Yosuke Oda, 34, from Tokyo’s Suginami Ward, said despite deliberations at the Diet he still does not understand the legislation well. Many people he has talked to share a similar opinion, he added.
Other individuals interviewed by The Japan Times at Hibiya Park echoed the belief that the government failed to explain the bills properly before pressing ahead with their passage.
A 35-year-old company employee from Yokohama, who gave his name as Nakagawa, said he opposed the legislation as he does not understand the structure of the bills and feels the government has yet to explain clearly why they are warranted.
“I’m not sure the necessity of the bills at this moment and I’m concerned about how the legislation will impact the public,” Nakagawa said.
Another 36-year-old company worker from Hino, Tokyo, who declined to give his name, said he opposed the bills because they could drag Japan into war in the form of providing logistical support.
He said the government has made insufficient efforts to explain the legislation to the public, saying a vote on the bills should only come after the public gains more understanding. He is also worried about the implications of the legislation on future generations, he added.
Information from Kyodo added