Posters bearing the message “We will not tolerate Abe’s politics” were raised Saturday across Japan by protesters against controversial security bills that were forced through the Lower House on Thursday.
Roughly 5,000 people rallied with the posters in front of the Diet in Tokyo, according to organizers. The nationwide gesture of protest was launched by writer Hisae Sawachi, journalist Shuntaro Torigoe and other activists.
The poster features characters originally written in a calligraphic style by haiku poet Tota Kaneko. It can be printed from multifunction photocopiers with Internet connections at convenience stores nationwide.
To access the data, copier users need a code distributed by activists on websites, Twitter and Facebook.
“Many people felt repulsion at the way the prime minister handled (the bills) but don’t know what to do,” said Torigoe, referring to the bills being rammed through the House of Representatives by the ruling coalition. “We’d like to unite our hearts by this message,” he said.
The bills will allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of the United States or other friendly nations under armed attack even if Japan itself is not under attack.
If enacted, the legislation will mark a major shift in Japan’s post-World War II defense-oriented security policy.
A drugstore in Sapporo, Hokkaido, is displaying the posters in its windows.
“I’m afraid that participation in a war will become an accomplished fact while people remain unaware of it,” said store worker Shizuka Ueda, 36. “A mood where nobody can raise their voices prevails.”
The store has held study sessions about the security legislation two or three times a week since late May.
Amid falling drizzle in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, hit hard by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, 15 people gathered, including survivors of the disaster.
“I’ll never forgive politics that will threaten the lives of the Self-Defense Forces members who provided support following the disaster and younger people who will take charge in the future,” said Emiko Otomo, 67, whose house was destroyed by the tsunami.
In downtown Hiroshima, roughly 120 people staged an antiwar rally, including survivors of the 1945 wartime U.S. atomic bombing.
“Unless Hiroshima stands up, peace will not be relayed,” said 70-year-old Masaharu Kawamoto, who was 3 months old at the time of the bombing.
The posters were also raised in Okinawa, home to the bulk of U.S. military bases in Japan.
Katsuko Furugen, 51, said Abe’s “high-handed” handling of the security bills is the same as the central government’s stance to force Okinawa to host the bases.
“It is unforgivable to ignore public opinion,” she said, speaking in front of the U.S. Marine Corps Camp Schwab near the coast of Henoko in Nago, where the government plans to build a replacement facility for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma,
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.