Japanese expressing a clear and strong disapproval – No to their future with wars


An article from Pressenza New York (reprinted according to Creative Commons Attribution)

Many witnessed a rare historical event last weekend in Japan. Hundreds and thousands of the same posters were ubiquitous nationwide. The posters read, “We say NO to Abe,” a strong disapproval directed towards the prime minister Abe and his government after the lower house of parliament passed the controversial security bills earlier in the week, without securing the public support, and potentially changing the Japan’s ability to go in wars in the future.

(Image by Tokyo Bureau of Pressenza)

It was a nationwide protest orchestrated by a non-fiction writer, Ms. Hisae Sawachi. The striking calligraphy on the poster was done by a haiku poet, Mr. Tota Kaneko who is 95 years old and a former Imperial Japanese Navy officer. It went viral when Ms. Sawachi made an announcement on her website asking the public to display the poster simultaneously and ambiguously on Saturday, July 18 at 1PM, calling for the nationwide public demonstration. Her statement read, “If you are not sure about being in a public rally, then you can display the poster in front of your house and on windows.” She asked for demonstrations in train stations, schools, and any public places in Tokyo and elsewhere. Her statement ended with, “Expressing one’s opinion may require a courage to do so, and our courage to “say NO (to the Abe government) ” is being challenged right now. It is our duty and our right to stop this political violence.”

Known for its virtue of not expressing one’s opinions or not becoming a nail that sticks out, the Japanese tend to shy away from public demonstrations. But this campaign brought uniquely remarkable outcomes because it allowed anyone, regardless of one’s location or viewpoint towards organized rallies, to participate. Anyone could print the poster and display it wherever they wished, and it allowed people to express their grave feelings towards the government while providing the safe environment where people could experience the solidarity. It was reported 29 prefectures and over 110 cities and towns responded to this campaign, and the poster went up over in 1000 sites nationwide. A plethora of responses with pictures of people holding the poster at home, in their cars, in stores, in public and in private places were sent to Ms. Sawachi’s site. In Tokyo, over 5000 demonstrators gathered and stood alongside Ms. Sawachi, with other public figures such as Mr. Shuntaro Kawagoe, a famous journalist, and Ms. Keiko Ochiai, an acclaimed political writer, and other critics of Abe administration in front of the parliament house. At 1PM, the crowd raised the posters towards the direction of the parliament house in sync, making their opinion clear, “We say NO to Abe.”

Ms. Sawachi spoke to the crowd, “The poster represents all our thoughts and feelings that we are outraged, and we will not tolerate what is happening. I’m sure there are current members of parliament who share the same sentiment. Let us all continue in this endeavor, each of us making wise decisions and choosing our own path.”

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