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Scholar Kobayashi to run in upper house race on anti-security law platform

Keio University professor emeritus Setsu Kobayashi speaks at a news conference in Tokyo on May 9, 2016. (Mainichi)

A constitutional scholar who has condemned recent security legislation as unconstitutional is set to run in the summer House of Councillors election.

    At a news conference in Tokyo on May 9, Setsu Kobayashi, professor emeritus at Keio University, announced he will set up a new political organization, "Kokumin Ikari-no Koe" ("The Angry Voice of the People"), dedicated to the repeal of the security laws. He added that he is aiming to field at least 10 candidates for the proportional representation bloc of the chamber.

    Kobayashi, 67, said he will solicit candidates as well as people willing to fund his campaign.

    Kobayashi continued his criticism of the security legislation -- passed last year and which opens the way for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense -- at the news conference, stating, "The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe enacted laws that allow Japan to wage war anywhere in the world. I'll hoist a third flag for those who can't forgive the previous Democratic Party of Japan-led government's misrule, but also don't want to vote for the Japanese Communist Party."

    In addition to scrapping the security laws, his platform includes restoring freedom of speech, postponing the consumption tax hike from the current 8 percent to 10 percent scheduled for April 2017, and abolishing nuclear power in Japan.

    Kobayashi is one of the three scholars who told the House of Representatives Commission on the Constitution in June 2015 that the security legislation constitutes a violation of war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.

    Kobayashi had previously been seeking to set up a political organization to help compile opposition parties' joint candidate roster for the proportional representation bloc in the upcoming upper chamber election.

    However, he moved to launch his own group so he could run in the election himself, after the largest opposition Democratic Party decided not to participate in his previous plan.

    In response to concerns that the establishment of a new political group could split the vote of those critical of the LDP-led government, Kobayashi said, "If a joint struggle among opposition parties is to materialize as I wish, and I become a stumbling block to that move, I'd be a supporter (of the joint struggle)."

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