Tens of thousands of people once again gathered in central Tokyo on August 30 to protest controversial legislation that would allow Japan to participate in military operations with other countries, such as the United States.
The new Legislation for Peace and Security, which may be technically unconstitutional, contravenes the spirit of Article 9 of Japan's post-war “Peace Constitution.”
Japan's House of Representatives passed the legislation earlier in August, and the House of Councillors is expected to ratify the bill formally on September 27.
Rally protesting proposing “Legislation for Peace and Security.” Signs read “We will never let you take us to war” and “Stop Abe.”
Billed by organizers as the biggest demonstration yet against the legislation, an estimated 120,000 protesters filled the streets in front of Japan's National Diet Building in central Tokyo.
A tweet from Japanese writer Ryuji Morita captured the scene:
— 盛田隆二 / 0830国会前 (@product1954) August 30, 2015
Mainichi Newspaper Photo Special: National Diet surrounded by protests opposed to proposed Legislation for Peace and Security. [The protest was so large] they needed a helicopter to capture the sheer size of it.
A SEALDS affiliate also posted images of the protest, estimating that closer to 350,000 people attended the protests:
About 350,000 people joined the protests today!
SEALDS is a student-led organization that has sprung up over the past year largely in opposition to what is perceived be the rightist policies of the coalition government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Those who say 350,000 took part in the demonstration are likely counting people who were participating in other rallies all over Japan, all coordinated to take place on August 29.
30,000 people protested in Osaka
Even the relatively remote provincial city of Tokushima saw protesters take to the streets:
— Shuya Okino (@shuyakyotojazz) August 30, 2015
I'm joining the demo in Tokushima! I still have time before I have to go to work, so I'm joining in!
While it's difficult to gauge the number of rallies across Japan, protests on the weekend were not limited to young people marching in Japan's cities:
— ＯＺ 脱原発に１票 (@OZ_WhiteKnight) August 30, 2015
This photo makes me tear up.
In general, protesters say they oppose attempts to scrap or circumvent Article 9 of Japan's Constitution, which specifically prohibits Japan from going to war.
In order to avoid a lengthy constitutional revision process that could affect the outcome of the Upper House elections next year, Japan's ruling coalition has tried to “redefine” military deployment in terms that are somehow compatible with Japan's Peace Constitution.
Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution outlaws war as a means to settle international disputes, though the Japanese government under Shinzo Abe says the country must be able to participate in military actions with key allies, notably the United States.
In practical terms, collective self defense would mean that Japan could conduct mine sweeping operations, field an air defense with its Aegis cruisers, and escort tanker traffic. There is also the possibility that the United States and Japan would cooperate to protect territory claimed by Japan in the far western reaches of the archipelago, notably the Senaku Islands, which are also claimed by China and Taiwan.