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About 1,500 people from diverse citizens’ groups across the country gathered Saturday in Tokyo and pledged solidarity to block efforts to revise the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.

“Japan is at the crossroads of war and peace with Article 9 at the center,” critic Shuichi Kato told the gathering.

“Japan must stick to pacifism,” writer Makoto Oda said.

The groups were organized under the Article 9 Association, which was initiated in 2004 by intellectuals including Kato, Oda and Kenzaburo Oe, the 1994 Nobel laureate for literature.

More than 5,000 groups have since been launched under the association.

The gathering was held on the second anniversary of the launch of the Article 9 Association to enhance exchanges among the groups.

The House of Representatives started deliberations earlier this month on two bills, one from the ruling block and one from the opposition, that would set rules for a national referendum on revising the Constitution.

The focal point of the proposed revisions to the Constitution is Article 9, which says, “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.”

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