TÖKYÖ — Thousands of young people rallied throughout Japan on Aug. 23, protesting controversial security bills that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing for passage in the current Diet session. Demonstrations and gatherings by a group called Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy-s, or SEALDs, were held in more than 60 locations around Japan, including Hokkaidö, Aichi, Ösaka and Fukuoka.
Abe’s bills are currently being deliberated upon in the upper house of the Diet after having been pushed through the lower house by the ruling coalition. That action sparked public opposition. The bills would significantly expand the scope of overseas missions for which the Self-Defense Forces could be deployed.
In Tökyö, about 6,500 protesters marched toward the popular Shibuya shopping and entertainment area, chanting slogans such as “No War” and “No Change in the Law.”
Other groups also rallied on Aug. 23.
At a gathering in Okinawa, SEALDs RYUKYU member Jinshiro Motoyama, a 23-year-old college student, said he “learned the preciousness of life” from his grandparents, who told him about what they experienced during the Battle of Okinawa in the final months of World War II.
Another college student, Isshin Naka, 19, said the security bills that the government is trying to enact are unacceptable to the people in Okinawa, the only prefecture where a fierce ground battle occurred during the war.
Twenty-eight-year-old Shinichi Inahara with a group called N-DOVE held a gathering in Nagasaki. He said he wants Prime Minister Abe to realize that many Japanese oppose the security bills.
Pacifism and constitutional democracy may appear to be endangered, but are actually in a phase of rebirth in Japan, said Tatsuru Uchida, a 64-year-old academic who spoke at a rally in Kyöto organized by SEALDs KANSAI. “I believe a big change is emerging at this decisive turning point,” Uchida said of the rallies by young protesters against the security bills.