Thousands protest Abe, security bills at Diet rally

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

In one of the strongest signs of public frustration over controversial security bills likely to be passed by lawmakers next month, thousands of people surrounded the Diet building Sunday afternoon to protest their enactment and call for the resignation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Organized by a union of three different anti-war citizens’ groups, Sunday’s rally was arguably the most massive in a string of similar protests in recent months.

The organizer claimed as many as 120,000 people gathered around the Diet building, with about 200 protest rallies held nationwide.

Meanwhile, NHK, quoting unnamed police sources, reported the Metropolitan Police Department estimated that only 30,000 protesters gathered around the Diet. A police spokesman declined to comment when contacted by The Japan Times.

Ken Takada, one of the chief protest organizers, said the turnout echoed what is widely remembered as the nation’s biggest civil demonstration ever near the Diet in 1960.

That demonstration was against the revision of the Japan-U.S. security treaty. Police said 130,000 people turned out to that event, but organizers estimated it was 300,000.

On Sunday, a sense of immediacy appeared to pervade the raucous rally with the bills, currently under deliberation in the Upper House, expected to be enacted mid-September.

The security legislation will greatly expand the scope of Japan’s logistical support for any U.N.-authorized force and allow the country to exercise the right to collective self-defense with an ally, likely the United States, if an event critically threatens Japan’s national security.

Protesters maintain the move, long banned under the postwar Constitution, is unconstitutional and that the bills could eventually drag Japan into an unwanted war.

The government, meanwhile, says the legislation is vital to strengthening the Japan-U.S. military alliance and protecting the country from growing global threats such as those from North Korea.

Participants, ranging from the young to the elderly, braved the rain to sing songs, shout slogans and wave banners demanding the bills’ abolition and Abe’s resignation.

One protester, 75-year-old Michio Yamada, said he was determined to thwart the bills’ passage and prevent Japan from ever engaging in a war again for the sake of his five teenage grandchildren.

Yamada, who at 5 years old witnessed the Great Tokyo Air Raid in 1945, said he was still haunted by the horrifying scene in which his neighbors in the Ryogoku area of northeast Tokyo jumped into the Sumida River in a desperate bid to escape the deadly blast and ensuing inferno.

“With the advance of technologies (over the past seven decades), war is likely to be more deadly than it used to be,” Yamada said. “In this age of nuclear weapons, you will never know how massive a death toll is going to be. The danger is far bigger than before. “We should never let it happen again,” he added.

A 38-year-old mother, who only gave her first name, Naoko, said she was worried about possible consequences of the bills that her children would have to face.

The bills, which she said ran counter to the pacifist policies Japan has adhered to over the past 70 years, could see her children embroiled in wars.

“Instead of enacting such pro-war bills, I want Japan to exert leadership roles in facilitating world peace as has done (since World War II),” she said.

Translator Hiromi Miyasaka, 49, said she resented the way the government was trying to steamroll the bills into enactment despite widespread public concerns.

“The way the government brushes aside public worries . . . it’s as though Japan is slipping back into its pre-World War II state,” she said.

  • Liars N. Fools

    Nobody is opposing Abe for the LDP presidency, and so he will likely continue to steamroller, especially with the Americans clamor ing for more Japanese military help.

  • RedCrane

    Support to the protesters! Support to the students!

    No to Abe’s war plans! The “Security Bill” will not bring security. It will bring war. The LDP is controlled by the rich capitalist class. The LDP protects the profits of the rich, not the working people of Japan. Abe is a dog of US imperialism. The capitalists chase after investment markets and create endless war. US imperialism will bring war to Japan again.

    Make the protests bigger and bigger!

    • Brian Stump

      Sounds like you support a violent communist revolt in Japan again. Not sure how that will help anyone.
      A little off topic but sounds like north Korean rhetoric.

      • Ken

        It’s not Communist at all. There was no violent incidents reported either.

      • sola makise

        There are two arrestees.
        they do not report the inconvenient thing

      • Ken Miyamoto

        It’s not due to their violence. It’s truly amazing only two were arrested. It shows how civil the demonstraterd were.

  • R Collier

    This is a necessary step for Japan to grow up and become a proper country. Now Japan can stop selfishly relying on American soldiers to do the dying when the Sh#t hits the fan. Any nay sayers to this legislation are either blind or Chinese supporters and my advice is buy a pair of glasses or move to Beijing.

    • ruggles

      1. Japan has been the 2nd largest contributor to the U.N. for some time and deserves credit for that. 2. If you measure success in terms of body count contributed, America is far behind Iraq or Afghanistan, not to mention civilian casualties (none in far away America) and millions of refugees and the disaster in the middle east created by American policy. Japanese see the facts, even if some people choose to express that in ideological terms. 3. Japan already has a very large defense capability. 4. There is a legal process for amending the constitution, which Abe is trying to circumvent, but of course legal process has not been at the top of the U.S. agenda for some time when it comes to making use of Japan for its own ends.

      5. I would support a more active role for Japan in U.N. peace-keeping operations, but few people believe that is Abe’s real goal, so the mistrust. 6. The Security bill is an attempt to muzzle the already compliant media further and intimidate the general public. 6. Look at history. The only way war “achieves” peace is by killing millions of people until there is no opposition left. How about a little more effort in terms of peaceful resolution of issues without all the macho posturing? China / Korea and Japan are hugely interdependent trade partners to everyone’s benefit. Who benefits from throwing that all away? All these countries are full of each other’s tourists who appreciate things on a personal level. It is mostly the politicians or others who know they or their families will not be doing the fighting who are so happy to throw away others lives (the poor, jobless, patriotically manipulated or conscripted) as meaningless cannon fodder). In a true crisis a country will come together with patriotism. There is no need and no rush to manipulate things to create that circumstance. When is the last time you heard anything like a plan or suggestions from this government for reducing tensions and improving cooperation?

      • R Collier

        You make very valid points. But what happens when the other side isn’t interested in meeting in the middle and will pursue its agenda regardless. What would you say is the best defense to that. Would you go all hippy on them and sing John Lennon songs or would you take pro-active steps to defend yourself and your people.

        This is a really difficult world we live in and the stark realities of it are lost on some people. It’s better to be ready for anything and to give yourself the maxium ability to do so.

        I’m not a great fan of Mr Abe and alot of his policies but this I do agree with and it should of been done sooner.

      • Mark Garrett

        “But what happens when the other side isn’t interested in meeting in the middle and will pursue its agenda regardless.”

        Ummm…probably the same thing that has happened the last 70 years….nothing. Just more political posturing by egotistical blowhards with small..umm..ideas….wanting to trade in the Porsche for keys to an Abrams.

      • R Collier

        You gonna need to look further back than 70 years buddy. After WW2 only two countries were in a position to dictate terms to anyone. You should look up how WW1 and WW2 started then you’ll get an idea of the situation now or as close as.

      • Mark Garrett

        You need to stop living in the past “buddy”.
        It’s a much different world today and Abe’s interests are far more economics oriented than defense.

  • As a Soka Gakkai member in the Netherlands I am praying for justice to prevail and that this War Bill will not pass. I urge New Komeito and Soka Gakkai leadership to take a firm stand for de-escalation for de-militarisation.
    I do my utmost in my own country for a peaceful agenda. Let us as peace-loving peoples around the world stand up and end this endless cruel cycle of war-madness which in the end only knows irreplacable losses.
    Let us follow in the steps of Makiguchi, Toda and Ikeda who took a stand for peace like lions.
    I send my respect and best regards to all the protesters in Japan and wish them lots of strength, courage an wisdom to have this War Bill canceled this month.
    Hans van Agt

    • R Collier

      You sir should keep your filthy religon out of it.

      • johninokinawa


        I’m not a member of Soka Gakkai, but I’d rather have Hans’ religion than your poison. Your comment is out of place in an article on Peace. Cool down and learn some tolerance.

      • R Collier

        Ah shucks, did I touch a sore spot with my comment. :)

        With respect to the filthy religion comment, that was aimed at all religions not just at that silly cult.

        My patience and tolerance with all religions is mirrored by religions patience and tolerance to others.

        On a politcal disscussion on the right to proactivly defend yourself. why is it out of place for someone to shut down someones religious views when the subject is political. Using religion in a polictical debate is like waving you penis around shouting incoherently.

        As for cooling down, pis# off you nancy and grow thicker skin.

      • johninokinawa

        Collier – no sore spots here – but you seem to have a few!

      • johninokinawa

        Collier – no sore spots here – but you seem to have a few!

  • 武 東郷

    A good aerial photo shows how many turned up for this event.
    Sankei Shimbun carries a photo taken by Kyodo News which suggests the maximum number of participants is around 30,000, much less than the 120,000 and much,much less than the waves of people we saw in 1960.

  • Nobu Tarou

    It’s really impressive and amazing that there are so many people who love peace in Japan. Unbelievable!

    • We are going to keep up with, in holding hands with each other, we are going to hang on, so to stay being a country permanently special.
      We are special in not killing people again, and we have nothing to be offended for not doing so.
      We don’t kill people anymore, we don’t kill people anymore, for the sake of all the people victimized back then, those with no voice to tell what the plight they got was like, we are not going to join any warfare.

  • Ken Miyamoto

    I don’t believe Sankei’s reports. It’s the most rightist newspaper in Japan and always writes for the LPD and nowadays for the Abe administration and the LPD. Not trustworthy at all. Don’t read it. A Sankei deliverer who comes to my neighborhood told me not to trust its reports.

    • johninokinawa

      It doesn’t look or sound like it was confused in any way. The people and the placards tell it. It was very focussed.

  • Listen up you western expats staying in Japan, especially American citizens.
    We are not going to be occupied by foreign force forever.
    We are going to be really independent in sometime in the near future, in kicking out the foreign force squatting in Japan.
    We are Asian citizens, part of east Asia, not going to be part of YOU in any future.

    Now you should think twice, about your position as a “guest”.
    Do the right thing.
    We are getting mad at Abe who’s manipulated by Washington warmongers, so to let us break our constitution, so to join a war that USA conducts.
    You know what this means.

    You are not going to be a persona grata unless you do the right thing to be a welcomed guest of us locals.
    Write to your congress, make them purge Joseph Nye and Richard Armitage, as they are the very threat to the world peace, known as very best enemy of us Japanese citizens.
    Go to your embassy, do what you need to do, make Kennedy know what she needs to do.

    USA should not support Japanese dictator anymore, Barack Obama, you are doomed, forget about your silly idea in “Pivot to somewhere” because it is something none of us asked for.