Tens of thousands of protesters have rallied outside Japan’s parliament to oppose legislation that could see troops in the officially pacifist nation engage in combat for the first time since World War II.
In one of the summer’s biggest protests ahead of the new laws anticipated passage next month, protesters on Sunday chanted “No to war legislation!” ”Scrap the bills now!” and “Abe, quit!”
Organisers said about 120,000 people took part in the rally in the government district of Tokyo, filling the street outside the front gate of the parliament, or Diet. Similar demonstrations were held across the nation.
In July, the more powerful lower house passed the bills that allow the army, or Self Defence Force, to engage in combat when allies come under attack even when Japan itself is not.
The upper house is currently debating the bills and is expected to pass them by late September, making it law.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his supporters say the bills are necessary for Japan to deal with the changed security environment in the world.
Public polls showing the majority of people oppose the bills and support for Abe’s government is declining.
Decades behind the US, Japan has learned the lessons of sophistry well. I recall the smattering of debate after WW2 when the pointy-heads in Washington decided to change the name of the War Department to the Department of Defense. As we changed to a time when the rest of the world needed to defend itself against Imperial America instead of Imperial England and Imperial Europe.
Not so incidentally, it may not take the anti-war movement in Japan to bring down Abe. Abenomics may do it for him. Pledging – as conservatives always do – to bring jobs growth and better economic times to the working people of Japan, the prime minister has only aided his Zaibatsu buddies. The rest of the nation suffers through a renewal of stagnation and ennui.