National / Crime & Legal

SEALDs founding member undeterred following death threat

Staff Report, Kyodo

A founding member of the student protest group SEALDs has received a death threat against him and his family.

Aki Okuda, 23, a key member of the group Student Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy who attends Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo, said on Twitter Monday that he had received a letter threatening to kill him and his family.

“A letter threatening to kill me and my family arrived at my school,” Okuda wrote. “Why does my family have to go through this? I don’t want to be killed for just stating my opinions, so I’ve been careful lately when I go to school.”

Okuda and the university reported the incident to the police. “The threat intends to suppress freedom of speech, and we can’t tolerate it,” the university said in a statement. It has stepped up security on campus.

SEALDs was instrumental in organizing large-scale rallies in front of the Diet and elsewhere in the nation against the state-sponsored security bills, which cleared the Diet and were enacted on Sept. 19.

The legislation, based on last year’s Cabinet decision to alter the interpretation of the war-renouncing Constitution, allows the Self-Defense Forces to come to the aid of an ally under attack, even when Japan itself is not.

Okuda was one of the speakers called to a public hearing a few days before the government rammed the bills through the Upper House.

At a news conference at the time, he said his appearance at the hearing showed that what was happening on the street was actually having an impact in politics.

“No matter what happens with these security bills, the people who are now standing up and raising their voices will not stop,” Okuda said. He emphasized that his movement would continue to work against the bills and the Abe administration, with an eye toward next summer’s Upper House election.