News / Asia

Thousands Denounce Japanese PM Abe's Security Shift

Protesters holding placards shout slogans at a rally against Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to expand Japan's military role in front of Abe's official residence in Tokyo, June 30, 2014.
Protesters holding placards shout slogans at a rally against Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to expand Japan's military role in front of Abe's official residence in Tokyo, June 30, 2014.

Thousands of people marched in Tokyo on Monday to denounce a landmark shift in security policy by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to ease constitutional constraints that have kept the military from fighting abroad since World War II.

The protesters, including students, pensioners and women working at home, massed in front of Abe's office on the eve of a cabinet meeting expected to endorse what some analysts describe as the biggest shift since Japan set up armed forces in 1954.

An opinion poll published on Monday by the Nikkei business daily showed 50 percent of voters oppose dropping the ban, compared to 34 percent who support the change.

Organizers said 10,000 demonstrators joined the march to the sound of drums, chants and saxophones. Some carried banners saying: “I don't want to see our children and soldiers die” and “Protect the constitution”.

“If the prime minister changes the interpretation of the constitution every time, the constitution won't function,” said Ayumi Yamashita, 51, her voice fading among chants from the crowd of “Don't let us go to war!”.

Yuriko Umehara, 34, a construction company worker, said the change was a threat to peace. “To change an interpretation of the constitution, citizens should vote,” she said.

Police put the number of participants at several thousand.

On Sunday, a man set himself on fire at a busy Tokyo intersection in an apparent protest against the change, police and witnesses said.

The cabinet is expected to adopt a resolution revising a longstanding interpretation of the constitution drafted by the United States after Japan's World War II defeat. The junior coalition partner in Abe's government has indicated it will back the change.

Legal revisions needed to implement the change must still be approved by parliament, which could impose further restrictions in the process.

Widening military options

The change in policy will significantly widen Japan's military options by ending the ban on exercising “collective self-defense” or aiding a friendly country under attack.

It will also relax limits on activities in U.N.-led peacekeeping operations and “gray zone” incidents short of full-scale war, according to a draft government proposal made available to reporters last week.

Since 1945, Japan's military has not engaged in combat. While successive governments have stretched the limits of the pacifist charter not only to allow the existence of a standing military, but also to permit non-combat missions abroad, its armed forces are still far more constrained legally than those of other countries.

Conservatives say the charter's war-renouncing Article 9 has excessively restricted Japan's ability to defend itself and that a changing regional power balance, including a rising China, means Japan's security policies must be more flexible.

Critics say the change will gut Article 9 and make a mockery of formal amendment procedures.

“The constitution should check government powers, but Abe is using his powers to change it,” protester Umehara said.


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Comment Sorting
by: Ponta from: Japan
July 06, 2014 10:20 AM
That's what those who knows and watches nothing would write.

by: TAYLAR from: TKY
July 02, 2014 8:33 AM
exzactly JAPANESE PM Abe is a crazy man like HITLAR,

by: Samurai from: Japan
July 01, 2014 4:25 AM
@Not Again, Fully agree with your opinion. Those protesters are brain-washed by left-wing media that work for the interests of opponent countries. Those protesters are made to believe that Charter 9th of Japanese constitution has protected Japan from being involved in wars, and they are still not aware of the imminent threat (Chinese aggression of invading and occupying neighboring countries, N. Korea's nuke and missile developments, and the like). They have to get aware of the importance of "Security Treaty between Japan and the United State of America" that is the one protected Japanese peace. USA is the best important and the best friendly country of Japan. That is why Japan must fight for USA when it is attacked by its enemy. Japanese people should not become a "boiled frog" that cannot be aware of the threat of being boiled or even feels comfortable in a warm bath until it has finally been boiled and gets aware of its ignorance.

by: Kim Nguyen from: Canada
July 01, 2014 12:04 AM
Reading this article about the protest in japan making me wondering if this kind of protest
( with altered picture of country's leader) can happen in any communist country !?! :)
We citizens must be grateful that we can be allowed to do certain things. Lots of certain things that other citizens in other countries dare not do ( even in their dreams:)

by: Igor from: Russia
June 30, 2014 11:18 PM
If you do not change your policy now, China will invade your land and sea in the near future. China has prepared for their invasion already and you will not escape a war if you only sitting under a table to wait and hope that war will never come.
In Response

by: Kim Nguyen from: Canada
July 01, 2014 9:36 AM
We don't bring military to look for enemy from the past. But have to be ready to fight against enemy + enemies at the door, now! We've to be smart enough to see the dangers threatening world peace, now. Or you will die bringing your people who keep clinging to the past with you!

Wake up!
Don't forget we live to hope for peace and freedom. Enemies want you to have flash back on bad memories so your minds are occupied. And they're free to invade your country. Or maybe just to rob some pieces of your land, like whats happening...
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
July 01, 2014 9:33 AM
Hey Igor, congratulations on annexing Crimea! Good job! Bro.
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 01, 2014 5:30 AM
No Igor, you are misinformed. China will not invade Japan while the awesome US military is there. That's why you Russkies ran back when the US conquered Japan. Remember? Just before US declared victory over Japan, you guys had most of you armed forces coming to annihilate the Japanese? But you guys ran like rabbits when the US planted it's flag on Japan's soil? When we do leave Japan, I am positive that China will be the first to exact it's revenge on what the Japanese did to them! The Japanese are a confused people because they don't want the US military there and they don't want to build up there military either! The Japanese have yet to pay for what they did to the Chinese, Philippinos, Koreans, Vietnamese, Malaysian, etc, because they have demonstrated no sorrow to these nations for the evils they did to them. So we conquered them, provide their security, and ensure their stability in a region that hates them! Wow, you mean the USA did something right? What do you think, Canada (Not Again)?

by: Not Again from: Canada
June 30, 2014 3:55 PM
All these protesting people appear to be totally oblivious to the regional reality, they must be ignorant people that do not look at the news, or just do not believe what is going on. Day after day North Korea is becoming more and more agressive; it is developing very sophisticated weapons, firing their latest missles just West of Japan... it is not a good picture!
Who do this people think will defend their own country, Japan? Do they really expect other people, from far away countries, to send their soldiers/children to fight and become causualties to defend their country? The first line of defence must always be the population of the country and their security forces; too many countries have become accostumed to ride on the back of other nations, and have no intention to share an equitable and risk proportinal load of their national defence obligations; how do they intend to maintain territorial integrity and cultural freedoms......? Will they just surrender to North Korea or any other authoritarian regime that comes knocking down their doors? These people need to wake up, or change their flag to a full white flag, and act accordingly!
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
July 01, 2014 9:31 AM
You are ignorant. No one is against Japan to defend itself from whatever a threat. But only defense. That's it. Japan is still a loser of WWII by international laws! And America is strong enough, it doesn't need any of your help. Protecting America ? What a funny excuse. Japan really believe it's Americas dog? America needs this dog to protect it? Lol
In Response

by: K.n. from: Canada
July 01, 2014 12:24 AM
Thx. for sharing the correct thoughts.

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