55,000 people rally in Tokyo to protect Japan’s Peace Constitution

Posted on : 2017-05-04 18:19 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Biggest ever such rally held as Japanese government exploiting Korean peninsula tensions to push Constitutional amendment
A rally in Tokyo for the protection of Japan’s Peace Constitution on its 70th anniversary on May 3
A rally in Tokyo for the protection of Japan’s Peace Constitution on its 70th anniversary on May 3

An estimated 55,000 people (according to the organizers) came together at a rally in Tokyo for the protection of Japan’s Peace Constitution on its 70th anniversary on May 3, a date celebrated as Constitution Memorial Day. Throughout the rally, participants chanted and “protect the Constitution!”

Participants gathered at Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park in Tokyo to call for the Peace Constitution’s preservation, holding banners with slogans such as “a country that doesn’t make war” and “don’t allow war legislation.”

Called the “May 3 Constitution Rally,” the event has been held every year for decades, but this year’s turnout was the largest in history. The reason appeared to be a sense of alarm over the Shinzo Abe administration‘s recent moves to hasten amendment of the Constitution.

 a date celebrated as Constitution Memorial Day. Organizers said 55
a date celebrated as Constitution Memorial Day. Organizers said 55

Rallies to protect the Peace Constitution have grown over the past three years. Before that, opposition parties and civic groups typically held separate rallies according to their positions. But as the Abe administration’s intent to amend the Constitution became evident, supporters of the Constitution began coming together in 2015. Last year’s rally was attended by around 50,000 people. The reason Disaster Prevention Park was chosen as a location this year, despite its distance from downtown Tokyo, was because there were no venues in the city center capable of accommodating more than 50,000 people at one time.

Tomomi Kannari, a 52-year-old resident who attended the rally with a heart-shaped Japanese flag, explained that she came “to express the desire for peace.”

“It’s worrying that the government is trying to force through a Constitutional amendment. There are people who say, other countries have militaries and Japan should have one too, but I’m against it. I think it’s right for Japan to protect peace, even if that means going its own path,” she said.

Kannari said the rally was her third, explaining that it had taken her around an hour and a half to arrive from Yokohama.

“I’m worried that the push to amend the Constitution has been intensifying,” she said.

000 people participated. (by Cho Ki-weon
000 people participated. (by Cho Ki-weon

A 38-year-old named Nakayama attended the ralley holding his two-year-old daughter.

“I started attending rallies last year,” Nakayama explained. “I came because I’m worried what it means for our children’s future if Japan becomes a country that can wage war.”

Speakers at the May 3 rally criticized the Abe administration for its recent attempts to exploit Korean Peninsula tensions to amend the Constitution.

“The Abe administration is taking advantage of military tensions in East Asia. Korean Peninsula issues need to be resolved peacefully,” said speaker Ken Takada, the 72-year-old secretary-general of the group No to Constitutional Revision!.

“The Abe administration needs to stop running with this,” Takada said.

Some attendees could be seen marching with a banner reading, “The people of the US, Japan, and South and North Korea must join forces to stop war on the Korean Peninsula.”

Attendees also voiced opposition to the Abe administration’s attempts to push an anti-conspiracy law that would allow punishment for conspiracy even when a crime is not actually committed. The administration has cited the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020 in calling for the legislation to prevent terrorism. Many attendees decried the anti-conspiracy law as an attempt to silence critical opinions.

The event to preserve the Peace Constitution concluded on May 3 with a march through Tokyo toward Toyosu and Odaibe near Disaster Prevention Park.

By Cho Ki-weon, Tokyo correspondent

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]


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