Prisoners of conscience, communists, antiwar activists, martyrs for Japan's tottering pacifist Constitution: Toshiyuki Obora, Nobuhiro Onishi and Sachimi Takada have been called many things since February 2004, and worse besides.

In the world of rightwing bloggers, they represent the dying strains of a 60-year-old refrain: No matter how the world changes, Japan must stay out of international conflict and remain true to a yellowing document written under U.S. Occupation in 1947.

For others, including supporters who contributed ¥3-4 million to their legal fees, they are the stubborn keepers of the antiwar flame — the personification of pacifist ideals in the face of huge odds.