• Kyodo

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Five former prime ministers harshly criticized current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over his push for security bills that would greatly expand the role of the Self-Defense Forces overseas, according to their statements collected by a group of former journalists.

The group of about 50 former reporters for newspaper publishers and TV stations said it received written recommendations from five former prime ministers — Morihiro Hosokawa, Tsutomu Hata, Tomiichi Murayama, Yukio Hatoyama and Naoto Kan — after asking 12 former prime ministers in writing in July to give advice to Abe.

Abe’s Cabinet in May approved the security bills that would 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 attacked.

The bills are now in the upper chamber of the Diet after the ruling parties pushed them through the Lower House last month despite mounting public opposition and questions over the legislation’s consistency with the pacifist Constitution.

Kan, who served as prime minister from June 2010 to September 2011, said in a statement that Abe “is against constitutionalism and unqualified as a prime minister of a democratic country. … I request his resignation.”

Hosokawa, who led Japan from August 1993 to April 1994, called for scrapping of the security bills. “If the security bills are passed, it would mean the collapse of constitutionalism and damage national interests,” he said.

Hata, who took the helm for about two months after Hosokawa’s term, said, “The spirit of the pacifist Constitution laid the foundation for peace and prosperity today … let’s protect Japan from Prime Minister Abe.”

Murayama, who served as prime minister from June 1994 to January 1996, criticized Abe for pushing through parliament the controversial bills despite mounting public concerns as seen in demonstrations and opinion polls. He said Abe’s attitude of pushing the bills through by “neglecting people’s voices” is “unforgivable.”

Hatoyama, whose term lasted about nine months from September 2009, said, “I request the prime minister to make a wise decision to shift from ‘nation-building toward war’ to ‘nation-building for peace.'”

Konosuke Oharu, 79, a former reporter for NHK, said at a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday that the statements written by former prime ministers share the same values to respect the Constitution and the belief that politics should be done under the Constitution.

“Citizens are aware that Prime Minister Abe is trying to destroy (the shared values),” said Oharu, a member of the former journalists’ group.

The group did not receive statements from such long-serving prime ministers as Yasuhiro Nakasone and Junichiro Koizumi.

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