Tuesday, August 4, 2015

300,000 Japanese: "Protect the Constitution! Protect Okinawa from Shinzo Abe! Don't Start a War!"

Great video via Michael Penn of Shingetsu News Agency (SNA): Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs) protest against the Abe War Bill, forced U.S. military base construction in Okinawa, and in favor of the Peace Constitution, rule of law, and democratic society.

Michael Hoffman's "A political turning point for Japan’s youth," published at The Japan Times on August 1, 2015, explores the mass student movement for democracy and peace for Japan and Okinawa:
Somebody needed to make the point that Abe’s primary accountability is not to U.S. lawmakers but to the people of Japan. Cynical calculations that the people of Japan wouldn’t bother were not unreasonable...

Years pass and nothing happens — then, suddenly, something does, and nothing is the same. What is the catalyst that turns passivity into activism? It’s like asking why this particular straw and not that one broke the camel’s back...

On July 1, 2014, the Abe Cabinet adopted a resolution sharply reinterpreting the Constitution as permitting what for decades had been regarded as forbidden: a global military role for the “pacifist” nation under the name “collective self-defense.”...On July 15, after a debate whose striking features were the vagueness of the government’s explanations and its hamfisted bullying of opposition lawmakers posing awkward questions, the Lower House voted, brushing aside the doubts of Constitutional scholars and of the public...

That was it. The camel sank to its knees...Sunday Mainichi magazine ventured a bold headline: “It’s begun — 300,000 people surrounding the Diet!”

That figure — 300,000 — is deeply significant. It takes us back to May 1960. The prime minister of the day, soon to be ousted, was Nobusuke Kishi, whose administration forced through the Diet a revised Japan-U.S. security pact in a manner strikingly similar to Abe’s handling of the current security legislation. Three hundred thousand is the prevailing estimate of the size of the enraged crowd that massed in front of the prime minister’s official residence, shouting for Kishi’s head. They got it. He resigned a month later.
The 1960 protests against PM Kishi's ramming through of the US-Japan Security Treaty (ANPO)
drew millions of protestors from all walks of life in multiple protests over months. 
 Demonstrators at the Japanese parliament building, Tokyo, June 18, 1960. 
(Photo © Asahi Shimbun Photoarchives)

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