Some 25,000 Japanese people rallied on Wednesday in Tokyo, calling for peace and protection of Japan's Constitution, including the war-renouncing Article 9, as the country marked the 76th anniversary of its pacifist post-war Constitution.
In Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park, people gathered together holding banners that read "Protect the Constitution," "No to revision of the Constitution," "No to Military Expansion," and "No to Counter-strike capabilities" among others.
The Constitution's Article 9 renounces war and prohibits Japan from possessing "war potential" such as military forces. The nation's exclusively defense-oriented policy is built on the idea of upholding pacifism embodied in the supreme law.
However, as the Japanese government has lifted the ban on the right to collective self-defense, approved revisions to three national security documents for large-scale military expansion and ramped up weapon deployment in its remote southwestern islands, more and more Japanese people feel increasingly uneasy about the situation and the risks.
"We feel that in today's Japan, people's ordinary life and small happiness can not be guaranteed," Aisa Kiyosue, professor of Japan's Muroran Institute of Technology, addressed the rally in a speech.
"In defiance of the Constitution and Article 9, the authorities have arbitrarily amended the interpretation of the Constitution in the name of 'defense' and run wild on the road of military expansion," Kiyosue said.
"We must stop the Japanese society from sliding into a 'return to pre-war' trend at all costs," the professor added.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sent a video speech to a small-scale meeting advocating constitutional changes, claiming that "it is extremely important to clearly include the Self-Defense Forces in the Constitution" and once again publicly expressed his willingness to revise the Constitution.
Ken Takada, the organizer of the rally, strongly condemned Kishida's remarks.
Takada pointed out in his speech that forces for revising the Constitution, which now have more than two-thirds of seats in both houses of the parliament, are seeking the inclusion of Self-Defense Forces and an "emergency clause" in the Constitution, and urgently justifying actions of "military power" and "building a war nation" that incite the crisis of war.
It can be said that the Constitution is being forced to change for the worse, Takada added.
Mizuho Fukushima, head of the Social Democratic Party of Japan, criticized Japan's new security documents during her speech at the rally, pointing out that the documents emphasize that Japan will possess the "ability to counter-strike enemy bases" and will exercise the "right of collective self-defense," which may drag the country back into war.
She called on the public to stop the war together.
People marched with banners like "No going back to pre-war," "No amendments to the Constitution" and "Now more emphasis on Article 9."
Apart from silver-haired citizens, young people, housewives pushing strollers, and the blind hand in hand, all share common wishes, to guard the Constitution and peace.
A 68-year-old man who arrived early for the rally expressed concern about his hometown of Amami Oshima in Kagoshima prefecture.
"Now a large number of missiles have been transported there, and the Self-Defense Forces are setting up bases there, while the Japan-U.S. alliance is conducting military exercises on civilian land. It is heartbreaking to see my hometown becoming a military base," he said.
University teacher Miwa Kojima said that the Constitution can not be changed by the sole will of anyone, and the rally showed to the Japanese government "the people's appeal and determination to protect the pacifist Constitution".
（Xinhua News Agency）