Japan: 120,000 say no to Abe’s new 'war law'

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Big protest against Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's security bill outside parliament in Tokyo, August 30.

About 120,000 people rallied outside Japan’s parliament on August 30 opposing what they call the “voluntary war law”.

Protesters chanted: “No to war legislation!” “Scrap the Bill now!” and [Prime Minister Shinzo] “Abe, quit!” in the starkest illustration yet of public hostility to the government's attempts to change the country’s unique peace constitution.

A bill violating the constitutional clause limiting the military to self-defence has already passed the lower house of parliament and is being debated in the upper house.

Abe argues that Japan needs more military flexibility in order to counter the rise of China, but opposition parties — supported by a majority in opinion polls — want to retain the commitment to peace adopted after defeat in WWII.

Survivors of the atomic bombs dropped by the US on Japan recently added their voices to the opposition, denouncing the drift towards militarism at a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing.

Critics say the change is being pushed by the US, which wants Japanese assistance if any conflict breaks out in the Far East. Japan already hosts tens of thousands of US troops.

Democratic Party leader Katsuya Okada said the government was seeking to ramp up a false sense of crisis to pass the law.

Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii said before the rally: “Japan is standing at a historical crossroads between war and peace.

“The war-renouncing Article 9 of the constitution is a treasure embraced by the Japanese people, which they wholly endorse based on reflections on past wars.”

[Abridged from the Morning Star.]

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