/

Protesters crowd Diet ahead of security bills’ passage

Kyodo

Tens of thousands of citizens opposed to the Abe administration’s security bills protested at the Diet on Friday as opposition lawmakers made a failed last-minute bid to prevent the enactment of laws that would allow Japanese troops to fight overseas for the first time since the war.

With the police on heightened alert, more than 40,000 people angered by the way the Upper House special committee approved the bills the previous day surrounded the Diet building, organizers said.

Similar rallies were also held elsewhere across the nation, including in Sapporo, Nagoya and Osaka.

The government-sponsored bills, which were delivered to the House of Councilors after being approved in July by the House of Representatives amid an opposition walkout, would greatly widen the types of roles playable by the Self-Defense Forces abroad, and bolster Japan’s military alliance with the United States.

But a majority of the nation’s legal scholars say the bill violates the war-renouncing Constitution.

Seiichi Takahashi, a 33-year-old doctoral student, said the ruling camp has been avoiding thorough discussions of the bills and is ignoring the Constitution.

“If such a thing is permitted, the government can just act as it likes,” said Takahashi, who has been protesting for three days straight.

The legislation would allow Japan to engage in collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of an ally under armed attack, even if Japan itself is not under attack. This was long considered banned under Article 9.

“I find it problematic to forcibly go ahead even though a lot of people say the bills are unconstitutional,” said Yukiko Take, a 28-year-old master’s degree student.

“I’m afraid we’ll get involved in wars little by little,” she said.

Even people who didn’t participate in the rallies said they were anxious, including the families of Self-Defense Forces personnel, who will be at higher risk of being sent into combat under the new legislation.

“I’m worried that (my son) will be involved in a U.S. war. (The government) does not seem to have thought about the (SDF) personnel, and is only putting priority on enacting (the legislation),” said the father of a Ground Self-Defense Force member in Hokkaido.

The soldier’s mother concurred.

“I am against the bills. But my son will obey an order to be dispatched.”

Successive governments before Abe’s had interpreted the pacifist Constitution to mean that Japan possesses the right to collective self-defense but cannot exercise it because of Article 9. Abe’s legislation represents a watershed in Japan’s postwar security policy, which had been exclusively defense-oriented.

A former member of the now defunct Imperial Japanese Army expressed strong fears that Abe’s legislation could send young people into the battlefield again.

Shigeru Maruyama, a 90-year-old resident of Kushiro, Hokkaido, said he was worried about the possibility of reviving conscription.

“From now on, even SDF personnel have to express their absolute opposition to war,” he warned.

Meanwhile, five A-bomb survivors’ groups in Nagasaki issued a protest statement to Abe Friday after the bills were approved by the Upper House special panel amid furious protests the previous day.

“Military force can never create peace. ‘Hibakusha’ in Nagasaki will convey wholehearted anger and deep sadness,” the statement said.

  • Richard Solomon

    Was SEALDs part of the demonstrations?

  • Carrasco German

    Have you ever seen a more horrible aggressor country than USA? They do war on every corner of the World, no matter their territory is not under any threat. They are the very invaders!!! That is Japan’s partner. How China threatens the World?? Shame on you timefox. You use the word “peace” and celebrate a military coalition not a China-Japan understanding talk.

  • David Rothauser

    One of the real tragedies of Abe’s action is that he shows no respect and no caring for his own people. But that’s how most governments are. They are selfish, power mad, money grubbers whose main concern is their personal welfare. The Democratic party in America is weak because they have the same motivation as the Republican party. I suspect it is the same in Japan. How to overcome this dark evil in the human animal is a great challenge for peace lovers world-wide. Has there been any discussion among peace activists in Japan about performing acts of civil disobedience? Is there an effort to make the press and media a stronger part of the peace movement? My feeling is that peace loving people must never let Abe and his administration rest in peace. Pressure must be kept at a high level to constantly remind
    him that he has committed a crime against Japan and the Japanese people. He has brought shame upon Japan. There is no excuse for his action. He must be held accountable by the Japanese people.
    The power brokers in America are happy for Abe’s victory. Gangsters run the world. It is not new, but it is always a tragedy because only the innocent people suffer the crimes of the power brokers. But have heart. Our challenge is to find creative ways to make Japan once again a caring and responsible member of
    the family for peace.