Thousands of young people rallied Sunday throughout Japan, protesting the security bills that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to pass during the current Diet session.
Demonstrations and gatherings took place at more than 60 locations around Japan — in Hokkaido, Aichi, Osaka, Fukuoka and other prefectures — in response to a call by a group called Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy, or SEALDs.
The bills are now under deliberation at the Upper House, after being railroaded through the Lower House by the ruling coalition, sparking public opposition. The bills would significantly expand the scope of Self-Defense Forces missions overseas.
In Tokyo, about 6,500 protesters gathered to march toward the popular Shibuya shopping and entertainment district, chanting slogans such as “No War” and “No Change in the Law.”
Other groups set up by young protesters also rallied on Sunday, responding to SEALDs’ call.
A member of SEALDs Ryukyu, Jinshiro Motoyama, a 23-year-old college student, said at a gathering in Okinawa that he “learned the preciousness of life” from his grandparents, who told him about what they experienced during the fighting in Okinawa in the final months of World War II.
Another member of the group, 19-year-old college student Isshin Naka, said the security bills the government is trying to enact are not acceptable to the people in Okinawa, the only prefecture where a fierce ground battle occurred during the war.
Shinichi Inahara, 28, a member of a group called N-DOVE, which held a gathering in Nagasaki, said he wants Abe to realize that many Japanese oppose the security bills.
Tatsuru Uchida, a 64-year-old academic, said in a speech at a protest in Kyoto organized by SEALDs Kansai that pacifism and constitutional democracy may appear to be endangered, but are in the midst of being reborn in Japan.
“I believe a big change is emerging at this decisive turning point,” Uchida said, referring to the growing rallies by young protesters against the security bills.