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Pre-election rallies across Japan blast Abe, security laws

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Demonstrators call for abolishing national security laws in front of the Diet building in the Nagatacho district of Tokyo on June 5.

 

Tens of thousands of anti-Abe government protesters held simultaneous demonstrations across Japan on June 5, demanding the abolishment of national security legislation and urging voters to support opposition parties in the Upper House election.

The Civil Alliance for Peace and Constitutionalism, founded by members of five citizens groups, including the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy-s (SEALDs), and a pro-Constitution organization jointly arranged the rallies at more than 50 locations around the nation.

They also called on other local citizens groups to hold their own demonstrations against the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

About 40,000 people gathered around the National Diet building in Tokyo’s Nagatacho district, protesting the national security legislation enacted under the Abe administration that allows Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, according to organizers.

“We shall show the nation’s wish for peace through the Upper House election,” Sanae Hoshino, 35, a member of the Hino branch of Mothers Against War, said at the rally.

Official campaigning starts on June 22 for the July 10 Upper House election.

The national security legislation was enacted after the Abe administration changed the government’s traditional interpretation of the pacifist Constitution.

Abe’s ruling bloc is now seeking a two-thirds majority in the Upper House to start the process of actually revising the Constitution, which has remained untouched since its promulgation after World War II.

Key members of the opposition parties, including the Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, joined the protesters outside of the Diet building.

“Don’t forget to vote,” opposition party members said. “Let’s make a political change.”

Postgraduate student Aki Okuda, 23, a SEALDs member, stressed the fact that four opposition parties are throwing their collective support behind just one candidate in all 32 single-seat constituencies in the Upper House election.

“Depending on the election result, the Constitution could be altered. We do not know if we can win so many single-seat districts, but we must keep trying to upset the election,” Okuda said to the crowd.

About 1,000 people gathered in the Umeda district of Osaka shouting, “Restore constitutionalism.” Similar rallies and gatherings were also held in Nagoya and Nagasaki.

The Upper House election will also be the first national poll to allow those 18 years old and older to vote.

Kenzo Kaifu, 42, a university lecturer from Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward who participated in the demonstration near the Diet building, noted that the number of young demonstrators has dropped.

“Perhaps young generations are reluctant to talk about political issues,” Kaifu said.

Akiko Takahashi, 53, a homemaker from Tokyo’s Nakano Ward, said: “It is important to encourage those who would not join these demonstrations to vote. I will try to pass on how I feel about the current government to everybody I see.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606060064.html

 

June 7, 2016 - Posted by | Japan | , , ,

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