Thousands of anti-war protesters rallied outside the parliament building in Tokyo on Tuesday, railing against the Japanese government's new so-called security law which marks a historic departure from the country's decades-long pacifism.
The controversial "war legislation," a package of bills that passed parliament in September and took effect on Tuesday, reinterprets Article 9 of the country's Constitution, which renounced war as a means to settle international disputes following World War II.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed for the revisions which "expand the activities of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) overseas, even in situations when Japan is not under direct attack," The Asahi Shimbun reports. "The laws call for the SDF to provide greater support to the militaries of the United States and other nations anywhere in the world."
Tens of thousands of people protested against the measure last fall and on Tuesday an estimated 37,000 demonstrated against Japan's expanded militarism. According to The Mainichi, demonstrations were held in 35 cities across Japan.
In Tokyo, protesters chanted and held signs reading 'oust the Abe administration' and 'we don't condone war,' RT reported. Over the weekend, hundreds of high school students took to the streets in Tokyo's Shibuya district calling for a "peaceful future."
The new aggressive posture comes amid heightened tensions with neighboring China and North Korea. In an online commentary published Tuesday, the state-run Xinhua news agency accused "warlord" Abe of threatening peace in the region in an effort to appease the United States.
The editorial continues:
[T]he only purpose of the controversial laws are to ride the coattails of Uncle Sam's "pivot to Asia" strategy and pave the way for Japan to further meddle in regional affairs—not only territorial disputes with its neighbors, but also issues for which Japan is not a stakeholder—with the United States, in a saber-rattling way.
Along with Abe's value-oriented diplomacy, the security legislation increasingly empowered Japan to promote weapons assistance and defense technology transfer to regional countries close with Japan and the United States, risking loss of regional geopolitical balance through triggering an arms race.
By doing so, Abe's elaborate ruse to contribute to regional peace and stability has been exposed and once again unmasked Japan as a trouble maker and a pawn of the United States in interfering in Asia-Pacific region affairs.
Indeed, as Abe himself said before a session of the Upper House Budget Committee on Tuesday, "When North Korea launched its ballistic missiles, there was greater cooperation because of the increased sharing of information between Japan and the United States...The passage of the legislation has strengthened alliance ties."
— 憲法かえるのやだネット長野 (@himitsuteppai) March 29, 2016
— ごとう 真左美（後藤 まさみ） (@gotou_masami) March 29, 2016