In the Second World War, Japan made use of religion to actively promote the expansion of its empire. This is in stark contrast to what is happening now, where Buddhist monks, Christian priests and other faith leaders are openly voicing their opposition to moves of the government led by Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to re-interpret the country’s pacifist postwar Constitution and choose to exercise the right to collective self-defense.
There is a coalition of religious groups who have bonded together because of their respective religious beliefs that seek to protect human lives and never tolerate war or violence. The leaders of these groups plan to hold a rally in front of the Diet building in Tokyo on May 22. “We oppose changing the interpretation of the Constitution based on religious teaching that we must protect every life,” said Tainen Miyagi, head of the Shogoin temple in Kyoto. Miyagi is serving as the representative of “Shukyosha Kyujo no Wa” (Article 9 group of people of religions), which is the coalition organizing the protest. “Reinterpreting the Constitution, which will lead Japan to war, is a big mistake because it undermines the Constitution and tramples on the war-renouncing Article 9,” Miyagi said. “If the current political move continues, we will implant in children the idea that Japan is a country that can wage war.” The Shukyosha Kyujo no Wa is a group that now has around 1,500 members from various faiths.
Before this plan, the group had already come out in protest – around 80 members of the coalition from Buddhism, Shinto, Christianity rallied in front of the Diet building, saying, “Let’s protect Self-Defense Forces members’ lives and our lives.” The idea for the coalition started in November 2013, where the group started collecting signatures to oppose the reinterpretation of the pacifist Constitution. The coalition said that as of May 14, around 4,000 signatures have been collected. Apart from the planned protest on May 22, the group also plans to hold another rally on June 18.
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