Last Wednesday, Japan’s ruling party and its coalition steamrolled the controversial national security bills at the lower house of parliament. As the ruling party holds the majority seats in the house, the result was predicted, and yet it outraged the nation for its seemingly undemocratic move since the government hadn’t given sufficient time and explanations to the public regarding the bills. Following the parliament decision, a mass demonstration took place in front of the parliament house. Organizers of the rally reported the demonstrators were as high as 120,000 at one point.
The protest had two parts. It started with many politicians, including current members of the parliament, and political scholars speaking out and criticized Prime Minister Abe’s approach to the bills and that he was rushing his government to move quickly on the bills because he knew the citizens wouldn’t have accepted them. Just a few hours after the lower house’s decision, the crowd started pouring in, amounting to impressive 25,000 in the early evening. It continued to grow through out the night and the public rally continued.
For the second part of the protest, the youth took the stage and demanded a true democracy. It was primarily organized by SEALDs（Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy). This young volunteer organization was formed just recently and started launching protests against then proposed security bills. The majority members are young students in their teens and 20s. Youth organizing is rare in Japan, and they are attracting the media attention. As their presence known, they have been inspiring youths in other cities to organize protests and speak out. At the protest, one of the core members, Aki Okuda spoke to the crowd, “30 years from now, we will commemorate the centennial of the end of WWII, and we wish to ring the bell celebrating the century of no wars in this country. We can’t let that snatched away from us. We build our future. Our future is in our hands.”
SEALDs is holding another massive anti-government protest this Friday calling, “No ABE! Occupy the Prime Minister’s Office.” Subsequently, a branch in Kyoto area, SEALDs Kansai just made an announcement to launch a series of anti-government campaigns in various cities in the west until the end of August.