Thousands of people attended a rally Saturday in Tokyo to protest against changing the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.

The public meeting was sponsored by the Article 9 Association, which was established in June 2004 by nine prominent intellectuals, including Kenzaburo Oe, 1994 winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, to seek a coalition of various political powers and the public to defend the constitutional clause.

“I experienced wars during my 88 years of life,” said Mutsuko Miki, one of the founding members and wife of the late Prime Minister Takeo Miki.

“I hope Japan will be a peaceful country without armed forces, by maintaining Article 9,” she said.

Referring to the deployment of Ground Self-Defense Force personnel in Iraq for a humanitarian mission, Miki said, “I do not understand why they have to go there with instruments for war.”

Makoto Oda, another founding member, said, “The Constitution says peace should be achieved through nonviolence and that Japan should take the initiative in doing so.”

Inspired by the association, more than 3,000 local groups to seek public support for Article 9 have been established, according to the meeting’s organizers.

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