Thousands of protesters gathered in Tokyo last Friday night, 24th, in a campaign to say “No” to Shinzo Abe and its government. The keywords of this demonstration were “No to Abe,” “No to War,” and “Protect the Constitution.” This was not an isolated event, as over the past week demonstrations have taken place every night in Tokyo. The demonstrators are protesting against the new security bill that attempts to reinterpret the constitution and allow the Japanese Self-Defence Forces (SDF) to participate in collective self-defence with the U.S. and other Japanese allies, scraping 70 years of pacifism.
Japan is, probably, the only country in the world in which its military never shed blood over seven decades. The demonstrators deeply wish that pacifism remains as one of the main pillars of the contemporary Japanese political system. Last Friday (24th July), over 70,000 people gathered in Tokyo to say “No” to the current government and to the idea of Shinzo Abe changing the course of Japan’s recent history. Smaller demonstrations in other countries, e.g. Greece, seemed to have received proper media attention. However, in this case, there was no proper national or international coverage.
Although many regard Japan as being a beacon of democracy in Asia, the country seems to be now under the threat of biased media corporations and nationalist political movements and policies. Therefore, the Japanese people are not staying at home and are voicing out their concerns. The former Japanese Prime Minister, Tomiichi Murayama, joined the protest against the security bill and gave a speech in which he underlined: “This (security bill) is not something a politician chosen in a democratic country would do. Abe is a dictator.” “When I visited many Asian countries in the past, I would be proud that Japan renounced to war. They thanked us for building libraries and infrastructure. What is wrong about that?”
Last Friday, Abe went to a Buddhist temple to meditate along with its Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) ally, Yuji Yamamoto, and later Abe had sushi with the actor Masahiko Tsugawa. Therefore, the apparent immediate response of the Prime Minister of Japan was to continue his normal life despite thousands of voices showing concern with the future of Japan. Abe may have decided to ignore the crowd and the call for a new and more democratic government. However, the Japanese people seem to be determined to make their voice heard. This seems to be a crucial moment for Japanese democracy and for regional peace and stability.