|Front page of the Tokyo Shimbun on 4 May, showing the 60,000 crowd|
I attend because part of my research concerns public engagement in political issues, seeking out reasons for apathy and disinterest in politics; and also for that part of my work that revolves around examining security in the East Asian region, particularly in response to interpretations of Article 9 of Japan's 1947 Peace Consitition, the so-called peace clause.
This year, a reported 60,000 turned up, an increase in the last two years. Article 9 is at the forefront of debate at present in Japan. It is the ambition of the current Prime Minister Abe Shinzo to amend the Constitution to 'better reflect' the role of Japan's Self-Defence Force, the jieitai, in being able to undertake overseas missions. As it is being presented to the general public, most consider to it be a 'legitimising' of the Force's overseas roles, largely in peace-keeping related missions.
|Placards for peace|
For those closer to the frontline of peace movement, there are greater fears that Japanese forces will be sent to wars overseas, mostly in the service of an American alliance, something only too well known to Australians.
I added the 2 above in the subheading to acknowledge two of my students who attended their first such rally. One of my seminars this semester is focussing on citizens movements and political engagement. I invited the students along to observe and record their impressions. The two who attended were, at first, taken aback by the size of the crowd. It was a privilege to watch them taking in their first such event. I look forward to their reflections.
Abe may not get the easy ride to constitutional amendment he seeks.
|Off on the march|