Monday, August 31, 2015

Japanese Protest

I love them.

"Mothers, students protest in Japan" by Mari Yamaguchi Associated Press  August 30, 2015

TOKYO — Mothers holding their children’s hands stood in the sprinkling rain, holding up antiwar placards, while students chanted slogans against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his defense policies to the beat of a drum.

What, they don't want to patrol the Pacific in service to the U.S.?

Japan is seeing new faces join the ranks of protesters typically made up of union members and graying activists. On Sunday, tens of thousands filled the streets outside Tokyo’s Parliament to rally against new security legislation that will probably become law next month.

“No to war legislation!” “Scrap the bills now!” and “Abe, quit!” they chanted in one of the summer’s biggest protests. Their cries are against a series of bills that would expand Japan’s military role under a reinterpretation of the country’s war-renouncing constitution.

In Japan, where people generally don’t express political views in public, such rallies had largely diminished since the often violent university student protests in the early 1960s. Antinuclear protests spiked after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

I'm always surprised when I see the word in print.

The antimilitary demonstrations started earlier this year but grew sharply after July, when Abe’s ruling party and its junior coalition partner pushed the legislation through the more powerful lower house despite vocal opposition from other parties — and media polls showing the majority of Japanese opposed the bills.

Antimilitary or antiwar? Big difference. I'm not against self defense, not at all. I am against wars of conquest based on lies, and I'll bet I'd have a lot of understanding from the Japanese.

Smaller protests outside of Tokyo were also held Sunday. Whether the protests’ momentum signals wider social change remains to be seen. They could die out once the summer holiday is over and the legislation is passed, as is widely expected.

Some are hoping.

But grass-roots groups among typically apolitical groups such as mothers and students — aided by social media — appear to be growing.

A group called Mothers Against War started in July and gained supporters rapidly via Facebook. It collected nearly 20,000 signatures of people opposed to the legislation, which representatives tried unsuccessfully to submit to Abe’s office Friday.

“I’m afraid the legislation is really going to reverse the direction of this country, where pacifism was our pride,” said a 44-year-old architect who joined Sunday’s rally with her 5-year-old son. She identified herself only as A. Hashimoto, saying politics is sensitive among parents at her son’s kindergarten. “I feel our voices are neglected by the Abe government.”

I understand that.

The bills would permit the Self Defense Force to engage in combat for the first time since World War II in cases of “collective defense,” when allies such as the United States are attacked, even if Japan is not.

That's the way World Wars get going (see the beginning of the first one).

Abe’s government argues that the changes are needed for Japan to respond to a harsher security environment, including a more assertive China and growing terrorist threats, and to fulfill expectations that it will contribute more to global peacekeeping efforts.

This as the Japanese suffer social services shortages because they are one of the most long living folks on the planet. 

The money is out there to care for people, but that's not what government wants.

The presence of college students in the protests has captured media attention in Japan, where student activists have been nearly extinct for decades.

I'm still waiting on the kids here. 

Said just a minute, soon as he finishes the video game and after he checks his phone.

Half a century ago, 300,000 students, many of them Marxist ideologues, staged violent protests, repeatedly clashing with police, over revising the US-Japan security treaty.

“It is much different this time, and there are relatively few young people involved,’’ said Yukio Okamoto, political analyst. “Our generation and housewives, these people are demonstrating in a much more peaceful manner.’’

That is when you know it is real.