In another attempt to stop a possible U.S.-led war on Iraq, a loosely united coalition of 47 Japanese groups is waging a one-week campaign that organizers hope will culminate in one of the biggest protests in recent years.
The campaign kicked off Sunday in Hiroshima, where about 6,000 people, including Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, stood in formation to spell out “NO WAR NO DU,” a reference to depleted uranium, which was used by U.S. forces in shells and bullets during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
The scattered depleted uranium is believed to have since caused a large number of leukemia cases among Iraqis.
During the week, antiwar advertisements will appear in several major newspapers. Rallies and seminars are planned around the nation, with larger-scale rallies scheduled to be held simultaneously in the nation’s major cities Saturday.
Organizers estimate that a Tokyo event that day will likely draw more than 20,000 people.
“The reaction on the streets is different this time,” said Ken Takada, a leading organizer. “We have received many calls from first-timers and individuals (who do not belong to a certain group).”
Recent opinion polls show that more than 80 percent of Japanese are against a war in Iraq.
Eisuke Naramoto, a professor at Hosei University and expert on Middle East affairs, speculates that behind the surge in antiwar sentiment lies unspoken public doubts over American unilateralism that has already been observed in the U.S. rejection of the Kyoto Protocol and its refusal to join the International Criminal Court.
He charged that the U.S. is planning the war on Iraq in an attempt to establish an administration friendly toward Washington so that it can wield greater power over the Middle East, which accounts for 70 percent of world oil reserves.
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