Wearing shorts and a baggy T-shirt and clutching a microphone, Aki Okuda stands before a crowd, the pyramid-shaped roof of the Diet building lit up against the night sky behind him.

"No War," "Protect the Constitution," "Abe — Quit!," he chants in a hip-hop rhythm, echoed by the crowd.

Okuda, 23, is a founding member of a group of students that has become a fresh face of protest against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to enact a more robust defense policy — steps critics say violate the pacifist Constitution and could ensnare Japan in U.S.-led wars.