Protesting against what they term as an effort to turn Japan into “a pro-war country,” around 2,500 people linked up in a human chain at noon on Tuesday around the Diet building. The protest was visibly against Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to reinterpret Japan’s pacifist post-war Constitution, especially the country’s self-imposed ban to exercise the right to collective self-defense.
The protest rally was made up of citizens groups and labor unions, with the protesters calling for the preservation of war-renouncing Article 9 of the nation’s constitution. One participant, 50-year-old writer Yoshihiro Abe, criticized the panel that is poised to give its recommendation to the prime minister on Thursday. The protester said that these “like-minded friends” are determined to make Japan a stronger ally of a “warmongering military power” like the United States. A private panel of security experts hand-picked by Abe is set to submit a proposal Thursday to lift Japan’s long-held ban on exercising collective self-defense.
Chiba University professor Yoshiko Kimura also addressed the crowd, challenging the prime minister’s claim that being able to exercise the right to collective self-defense will protect the nation from foreign attacks, which she says Japan is fully entitled to respond to if it happens. “Wielding the right has nothing to do with Japan’s self-defense,” she said. Noting how the U.S. used its alliances in the Vietnam War in the 1960s, Kimura said that it would possibly bring Japan closer to similar conflicts. The protest was supported by several prominent figures in Japanese politics, including Japanese Communist Party President Kazuo Shii, Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima and former Japan Federation of Bar Associations President Kenji Utsunomiya.