Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Protesters hold up banners reading 'No To War,' during a rally to protest against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's drive to enact two controversial security bills on Sunday in Ogimachi Park in Osaka's Kita Ward. (Photo: KYODO)

In Japan, Tens of Thousands Anti-War Protesters Reject Return to Militarism

'Instead of enacting such pro-war bills,' said one demonstrator, 'I want Japan to exert leadership roles in facilitating world peace.'

Jon Queally

Tens of thousands of people gathered outisde the Japanese parliament building on Sunday to reject plans put forth by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that would see an aggressive expansion of the nation's armed forces despite a long-standing constitutional mandate for a "defense only" military posture.

The enormous crowd—estimated by organizers as more than 120,000 people—is opposing a set of bills moving through the country's legislature which would allow the country's military to engage in overseas fighting and ratchet up spending on new weapons systems. Despite loud public protest against the plan, Abe has continued to defend the plan. Demonstrators carried banners reading "Peace Not War" and "Abe, Quit!"

"Sitting in front of TV and just complaining wouldn't do," Naoko Hiramatsu, a 44-year-old associate professor in French and one of the Tokyo protesters, told Reuters. Holding his four-year-old son in her arms, she continued, "If I don't take action and try to put a stop on this, I will not be able to explain myself to my child in the future."

As the Asahi Shimbum reports:

In one of the largest postwar demonstrations in Japan, tens of thousands of protesters swarmed in front of the Diet building in Tokyo on Aug. 30 to oppose the Abe administration's contentious security legislation.

Following a wave of weekly protests near the Diet building in recent months, rally organizers had worked to mobilize 100,000 participants from across the nation.

Amid the gloomy and rainy weather, protesters held up placards and banners and chanted slogans against the legislation, which is being pushed through the Diet.

A huge banner hanging from dozens of balloons read: “Abe, Quit!”

Opponents blasted the security bills on concerns that they would drag Japan into unwanted conflicts overseas.

Organized by a union of three different anti-war citizens’ groups, the Japan Times reports Sunday’s rally was arguably the most massive in a string of similar protests in recent months.

The Times spoke with several people in the massive crowd who rejected Abe's arguments that Japan must return to a war footing more than half a century after the carnage that resulted from the Second World War:

Yamada, who at 5 years old witnessed the Great Tokyo Air Raid in 1945, said he was still haunted by the horrifying scene in which his neighbors in the Ryogoku area of northeast Tokyo jumped into the Sumida River in a desperate bid to escape the deadly blast and ensuing inferno.

“With the advance of technologies (over the past seven decades), war is likely to be more deadly than it used to be,” Yamada said. “In this age of nuclear weapons, you will never know how massive a death toll is going to be. The danger is far bigger than before. “We should never let it happen again,” he added.

A 38-year-old mother, who only gave her first name, Naoko, said she was worried about possible consequences of the bills that her children would have to face.

The bills, which she said ran counter to the pacifist policies Japan has adhered to over the past 70 years, could see her children embroiled in wars.

“Instead of enacting such pro-war bills, I want Japan to exert leadership roles in facilitating world peace as has done (since World War II),” she said.

Translator Hiromi Miyasaka, 49, said she resented the way the government was trying to steamroll the bills into enactment despite widespread public concerns.

“The way the government brushes aside public worries . . . it’s as though Japan is slipping back into its pre-World War II state,” she said.

 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Bush and Warren Lead New Bill to Protect Renters Nationwide From Eviction

"This pandemic isn't over, and we have to do everything we can to protect renters from the harm and trauma of needless eviction, which upends the lives of those struggling to get back on their feet."

Jessica Corbett ·


New Campaign Calls Out Vaccine Makers for Fueling 'Unprecedented' Human Rights Crisis

"Covid-19 vaccines must be readily available and accessible for all. It is up to governments and pharma companies to make this a reality."

Brett Wilkins ·


Sunrise Movement Targets Kyrsten Sinema for Obstructing Build Back Better Act

"Who do you work for? Do you work for the young, BIPOC, and working people who put their lives on hold to elect you? Or do you work for ExxonMobil and fossil fuel corporations?"

Brett Wilkins ·


UN Chief Tells World Leaders To Their Faces That Vaccine Apartheid Is 'An Obscenity'

Persistent inequality represents "a moral indictment of the state of our world," U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said.

Julia Conley ·


Global People's Summit on Food Systems Kicks Off to Challenge 'Corporate Agenda' of UN Meeting

"The people are hungry for real change, and are willing to do whatever it takes to fight for and reclaim their land, their rights, and the future of food systems."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo