‘Scrap war legislation!’ Thousands protest Japan’s unpopular new military doctrine

An aerial view shows protesters gathering at a rally against Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's security bill and his administration, as police use parked buses to block protesters in front of the parliament building in Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo September 14, 2015. © Kyodo
Tens of thousands of people have attended a rally in central Tokyo to denounce the lack of public debate and governmental haste in adopting controversial legislation which would allow Japan to deploy troops abroad for the first time since World War II.

Led by opposition parties, celebrities and peace activists, members of the crowd held placards saying “no war” and “scrap war legislation,” as they stood outside the National Diet building in Tokyo. Organizers say that over 45,000 people attended the rally.

“I’m not sure if my participation will change anything. But I came here, for the first time, as I feel the government’s way to decide without listening to people’s voices is much too contemptuous,” demonstrator Tateo Iida told The Japan Times.

The reform, personally advanced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, reverses Japan’s essentially pacifist and non-interventionist constitution, and would allow the army to intervene in conflicts outside the country’s borders, even if Japan is under no direct threat.

READ MORE: ‘Never again!’ Japanese hold massive rally to protest Abe’s foreign wars bill (PHOTO, VIDEO)

The bill has already been ratified by the lower house of the Diet, despite a 120,000-strong demonstration last month, and will be brought before the upper house this week.

A poll published in leading newspaper Asahi Shimbun on Monday showed that only 29 percent of Japanese people support the reform, and 54 percent are against. Respondents were particularly angered by the haste with which they had been rushed through, with three-quarters of those surveyed saying there had been insufficient public debate, and 68 percent saying they opposed the rush.

The nationalist Abe’s ratings took a hit during previous rounds of protests, but have partially recovered, and last week his LDP party voted to keep him as its leader for a second three-year term.