About 40,000 people gathered in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park on Saturday to protest a possible war against Iraq, organizers said, claiming it was the largest demonstration in Japan since the 1980s.

Ken Takada, one of the organizers, took to the stage to describe the war as a threat to democracy. “Yet even more unforgivable is (Prime Minister Junichiro) Koizumi offering unconditional support to the United States,” he added.

Itoko Ota, 59, a participant, said she feels angry at the government, which adheres to Cold War policy and follows the U.S. “If we allow the strongest country to do anything, that would be the defeat of human wisdom,” she said.

Chihiro Ozaki, 18, who said she had never taken part in a protest rally before, said she came to this one in hopes of finding an answer to her question of what to do.

“I don’t support (Iraq President Saddam) Hussein, but I don’t think war is the solution,” she said. “I feel I need to carefully examine the situation.”

After the rally, which included performances and songs, the demonstrators took to the streets for an hourlong march through downtown Tokyo.

The demonstration was organized by 47 citizens’ groups. Similar events were held the same day in more than 30 cities around the nation.

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