Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might be set on revising the “pacifist” Constitution – Japan’s supreme laws written after World War II which according to Abe is tainted by influence of the U.S. occupation of Japan – but those who are opposed to his proposed revisions were determined to make their voices heard as well. Hundreds of Japanese, a mixture of young and old, gathered in the streets of the Ginza district in downtown Tokyo to peacefully protest calls by Abe to amend the country’s current constitution, fearing that this will give the government more power to undermine civil liberties.
The protesters – members of opposition parties, labor groups, religious organizations and even private individuals – all marched out on Friday starting from a park near the Imperial Palace through the Ginza shopping district, chanting words of opposition against the determined efforts of Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to amend the constitution, starting with Article 96, which currently dictates the requirements for pushing constitutional revisions. Prime Minister Abe recently stated that he wants to change the requirements, currently set at a two-thirds approval in both houses of parliament before the issues are put forward for a national referendum, to a majority vote in both houses of parliament.
Activists and scholars have all voiced their fears, the same fears that the protesters are chanting about, about the revisions which could lead to a restrictive society not recognizing freedom of expression and diversity of opinions. With Abe’s recent nationalistic acts, some have said that the LDP may be headed towards an authoritarian Japan, one that would negate universal human rights. These assumptions are for now, mere guesses at best. But Abe’s main target, the Article 9 revision, calls for a stronger role for the Self Defense Forces, probably elevating them to a full military organization. This, to some, are signals that if Abe pushes through with the revisions, the Constitution might be used to oppress liberties that have come at an expensive cost after the Second World War.
[via The Republic]
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