Tens of thousands of people staged a rally in central Tokyo on Friday to protest Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to amend the Constitution.
About 40,000 people gathered outside the Diet to mark the 71st anniversary of the promulgation of the Constitution, the organizers said.
“The Japanese government is on the path of opposing a ban on nuclear weapons and destroying Article 9 of the Constitution,” said Akira Kawasaki, a member of the international steering group of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
“The right path to take is to campaign to protect and use Article 9 and eliminate nuclear weapons globally,” Kawasaki said, referring to the war-renouncing provision.
Former Supreme Court justice Kunio Hamada expressed opposition to Abe’s proposal for amending Article 9 to legitimize the Self-Defense Forces. The proposal “will undermine the trust and standards built over the 70 years since the end of World War II,” he said.
Toshiyuki Sano, a 67-year resident of the capital, said both his father and uncle were pulled into the war and his uncle died.
“Article 9 should be protected at any cost,” he said.
Abe’s ruling coalition swept to a victory in the House of Representatives election on Oct. 22.
Political forces in favor of amending the Constitution, including the ruling bloc, currently hold a two-thirds majority in both chambers of the Diet, the level required to put constitutional revisions to a national referendum.