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Some 250 cultural figures, including prizewinning novelist Hisashi Inoue, issued a statement Tuesday expressing their opposition to legislation planned by the government to cover defense emergencies, saying it threatens to turn Japan again into a militaristic nation.

The legislation “will turn Japan into a warlike nation from the peaceful one stipulated by Article 9 in our Constitution, and we need to shatter the government’s aim to realize it,” the statement said.

The government plans to submit bills for the contingency legislation during the current Diet session. It would give greater powers to the Self-Defense Forces in cases of emergency, such as an attack on Japan.

Inoue and others started recruiting supporters for the statement April 1. The signatories include singer Tokiko Kato and a number of college professors.

They plan to publish their opinions opposing the planned legislation in newspapers, members of the group said.

Photographer Akira Tanno, one of the promoters, told reporters, “We were denied culture and freedom during the war, and we will never return to such days.”

Article 9 says the Japanese people “forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes,” adding, “Land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”

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