Activists form network to support Upper House candidates fighting Japan’s security laws


Members of citizens’ groups — including student activists based in western Japan — launched a coalition Monday to support candidates in this summer’s Upper House election who pledge to scrap the controversial security laws.

The Kansai branch of Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs), which gained prominence last year as part of a growing protest movement against the security legislation, is among the parties to the network.

The Kansai coalition is scheduled to hold rallies in support of opposition parties that have vowed to fight the security laws. It is also planning to organize a signature drive to win public backing for their cause.

Organizers said the coalition would work with a similar network launched last December in Tokyo.

“The protest movement against the security legislation not only occurred in front of the Diet but also in Kansai and across the country,” said Jun Shiota, 24, a member of SEALDs Kansai and a graduate student at Kobe University. “Although the bills were enacted, the citizens’ protests have not ended ahead of the Upper House election.”

Academics and members of other citizens’ groups, including Mothers Against War, have joined the coalition.

SEALDs was launched by a group of university students and other young people last May and has attracted media and public attention at home and abroad. The group, which later established branches in other parts of the country, believes the legislation could undermine the pacifist Constitution.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc rammed the security bills through the Diet last September despite the angry protests across the country.

The legislation, under certain conditions, allows Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of the United States and other friendly nations under armed attack, even if Japan itself is not attacked.