Student protests continue quest to block security bills

by

Staff Writer

Student protesters continued to cry foul over what they call “unconstitutional” security legislation Wednesday in a last-minute effort before the bills’ expected Diet passage later this week.

Aki Okuda, 23, a founding member of Student Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs) — a leading student group campaigning against the government’s security bills — expressed concerns during a news conference Wednesday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

The bills are “clearly against the Constitution,” Okuda said. The government’s explanation has been insufficient and deliberation in the Diet has been made difficult, as the eleven different components were packaged together and debated at the same time.

“It is much deeper than the issue of just whether to send forces overseas,” Okuda said, likening the government’s moves to “a car going forward without breaks.”

The news conference followed a hearing by the Upper House special committee on the bills, where Okuda was invited by the opposition parties Tuesday afternoon. At the news conference, he said his appearance at the hearing showed that what is happening on the street is actually having an impact in politics.

Although the opposition camp is trying to prolong the process, the bills are expected to pass the Upper House by the end of Friday with a majority vote of the ruling bloc.

“No matter what happens with these security bills, the people who are now standing up and raising their voices will not stop,” Okuda said.

He emphasized that his movement would continue to work against the bills and the Abe administration, with an eye toward next summer’s Upper House election.

SEALDs, formed on May 3 — Constitution Day — has inspired the nation’s youth to participate in demonstrations and forums over the past three months. The organization now boasts branches in the Kansai, Tokai and Tohoku regions, and even as far away as Okinawa Prefecture, according to Okuda, who added that it has 300 core members.

Okuda claimed that the impact of SEALDs has been felt by many people, including his peers, adding that the biggest change in Japan is that people with concerns are now “visible,” and “people can come out and say what they are thinking.”

Hiroki Goto, 21, a third-year law student in Seinan University in Fukuoka, and one of the organizers of a local protest group, said he was inspired and motivated by SEALDs, and admired their courage to speak out, their professional graphic design and the quality of the student rallies.

“Demonstrations were for the elderly in Fukuoka, and I was scared to join them alone,” Goto said. “But, because the protests are organized by the students and many students were there, it was very easy to participate,” Goto said.

Goto said he used the LINE group-messaging service to contact other student protest groups in Kyushu through SEALDs, organizing a major event led by student groups. About 500 people participated in the Fukuoka rally, with about 3,000 gathering in all of Kyushu, Goto said.

“This is quite a big deal for Kyushu,” he added.

Despite the apparent overwhelming youth opposition to the legislation, Yohei Saiki, 23, the founder of Teen’s Rights Movement, which backed the bills to lower the voting age to 18, expressed concerns that the media is overrepresenting the number of students involved in the opposition movement.

This, he said, could misguide the public.

“The young generation’s perspectives vary, and there are people supporting the bills,” he said, emphasizing the importance of hearing from both opponents and proponents in forming opinions.

  • sola makise

    SEALDs Okuda speech
    Common student<= lie For democracy<= lie Independents<= lie It is 100,000 people in front of the Diet<= lie It is 1 million people in the whole country<= lie The majority of the nation objects<= lie The oppositions continue increasing<= lie The support of the cabinet comes off<= lie 41% of this manifestant are supporters of the Communist Party People who were dyed a specific political party color They are not representatives of the youths without the representative of the nation

    • Bernadette Soubirous

      Sola,

      You may imagine things that are false, but you can only understand things that are true, for if the things be false, the apprehension of them is not understanding.

    • Paul Johnny Lynn

      You’re just upset that people won’t tow the conservative line sola. You DO understand that in a TRUE democracy people are supposed to have the right to protest whatever they disagree with? It matters not what their political bias may be. Also, I’d be interested to see exactly where you got your figure of 41% are Communist supporters. Even if it’s true, so what? Again, dissent is not (yet) a crime in Japan. It seems to be a particular trait of people to the right of politics to get angry when their opponents protest.

    • Jackson

      Yeah they are. We`re tired of おっさん using taxpayer money and stealing it to give it to their friends…who get richer and fatter. We are waiting for the Showa-era idiots to die–SOON, WE HOPE.

      Nobody cares about the opinion of LDP, we think the memory of Nobosuke Kishi, Shintaro Abe, Hideki Tojo…they`re all criminals and thieves.

      They should re-start and build a nuclear reactor in Yamaguchi prefecture, home of Shinzo Abe and see how much he enjoys it. Nuclear waste should be stored in Chiyoda-ku with all the ボンボン who live in government-subsidized housing.

      Calling SEALDs protesters `communists` is so low-level and outdated–no wonder even when you`re collecting government paychecks, it`s like YOU ARE ALREADY DEAD.

  • tisho

    He, who falls fighting for freedom never dies.

  • US0302MC

    Its funny to see immature kids who don’t have a professional degree or experience in the real world make statements about the legality of the Security Legislation. They don’t have a brain in their head.

    • Paul Johnny Lynn

      So you feel only trained and qualified professionals should be allowed to voice their opinion on a given topic? You do realise that changes such as Abe wants are required by constitutional law to have the backing of a majority of both the legislature AND the electorate? In other words it MUST, legally, be put to a vote, but Abe refuses to do so. Also, they are not all “immature kids” as you put it.

    • 大千釜 創雷

      Very funny indeed. This is similar to the day when Japan signed the security treaty with the United States. A far larger number of youngsters were protesting in front of the Diet. A few decades have passed since then. None of them opposes it now. Haha.

    • bellschaserplease

      It’s funny? I can’t see how you worked that out. Then again if I was as thick as you evidently are, I might post a comment like that too.

    • J.P. Bunny

      Do you refer to the same immature kids that are of legal voting age and most likely will be the ones that will be killed if war breaks out? At least these young people are taking an active interest in the fate of their country, rather than staring into their phones all day. I didn’t know one needed a degree to care about one’s country.

    • Ine Chan

      immature kids ?
      To me they are mature enough to go on the street, stand for their rights, and have their own opinions !
      A professional degree ? Or experience ? in Japan young people are never good enough from the Ossan point of view , never mature enough never smart enough , don’t earn enough , don’t work enough, don’t have enough children , not obedient enough. Japan is a democracy right ? So you need to chill and stop judging people by how many degree they have. Leave them live their life and protest as much as they want to !
      They don’t have a brain ? well they have a heart wide enough to know that war is not the way to peace.

  • Jackson

    The only people who have time to participate in these protests are these students–once you get into university, the curriculum is so stupid and low-level, that even participating in a protest on a weekly basis is far more interesting. That`s what…Hosei, Waseda, Keio, Tokyo, Sophia University for having some of the least-interesting campuses in history.

    You reap what you sow–even the good-for-nothing sons and daughters of lawmakers are probably outside, yelling and making a scene. This is when LDP, DPJ, Komeito…all systematically try to take advantage of a system and ignore the entire taxpaying populous. The delusion of grandeur that Shinzo Abe has, is perplexing and even worse is all the anonymous fixers in the background.

    We are waiting with baited breath for your hopefully soon-death. They`re greedy, selfish and horrible. Kasumigaseki is filled with corrupted idiots.

  • eiji

    why BBC and CNN ignored large protest in JAPAN?

    there are NO live coverage on such protest
    there are no much reporting on such protest

    why?

    great censorship!!!

    in recent day, BBC and CNN only focus on Refugees crisis, donald trump , syria crisis

    japan protest is much bigger than HK occupy protest

    ironically, BBC and CNN had a lot of coverage, story on HK occupy protest

    there are very limited information,little coverage on BBC and CNN about japan protest.

    • johnniewhite

      BBC reported it. You just were too lazy to look!
      It is not that big — the organizers inflates the figures 10 fold! :) Basically these liberal demonstrators are similar to those people gathering around G7 summit.