OSAKA/NAGASAKI – More than 800 people, including atomic bomb survivors, launched legal action against the government this week over controversial security laws they believe threaten their right to live in peace.
Following similar lawsuits that have already been filed nationwide in connection with the laws, the action demands compensation in connection with the laws, which took effect in March and enable the Self-Defense Forces to fight overseas.
More than 700 people in their 20s to 90s, who live in Osaka and nearby areas, filed a suit with the Osaka District Court on Wednesday, while 118 people, including atomic bomb survivors and their children in Nagasaki Prefecture filed a separate suit with the Nagasaki District Court the same day.
The plaintiffs are seeking ¥10,000 damages each in the Osaka matter and ¥100,000 each in the Nagasaki case on the grounds they have suffered emotional distress.
“I feel the fear that Japan is moving ahead to have a part in war,” Shigeru Aoyagi, a 60-year-old Buddhist monk and a plaintiff in Osaka lawsuit, said in a news conference.
Under a provision in the legislation, Japan can exercise the right to collective self-defense and come to the aid of the United States and other friendly nations under armed attack even if Japan itself is not under threat.
Previous governments maintained the view that Japan has that right under international law, but cannot exercise it due to Article 9 of the war-renouncing Constitution, which bans the use of force to settle international disputes.
The secretariat of Japan’s National Security Council said in a statement that the new security laws were “consistent” with Japan’s Constitution and “essential to protect the public and their peaceful everyday life.”
“We do not want our children to face the same fate as us (in which we suffered nuclear attacks at the end of World War II),” said Koichi Kawano, a 76-year-old plaintiff in the case at the Nagasaki court who is a member of a peace group supporting atomic bomb survivors.
In the complaint filed with the court, the plaintiffs insisted that the government’s arbitrary interpretation of the Constitution has enabled Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. As a result, war could occur again and nuclear weapons could be used, they said.
Nagasaki was the second city in Japan after Hiroshima that was devastated by a U.S. atomic bombing in 1945.