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Citizens, students against security laws urge others to vote in election

Protesters hold up signs that read, "Change politics," in front of the Diet building in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, on June, 5, 2016. (Mainichi)

Citizens' groups opposing the controversial security-related laws took to the streets in front of the Diet building in Tokyo on June 5 calling for better voter turnout in the upcoming House of Councillors election as the ruling coalition looks to secure a two-thirds majority in the upper chamber to implement constitutional amendment.

Some 40,000 people joined the rally that took place in three locations near the Diet building in Tokyo's Nagatacho district, according to the organizing group, along with senior lawmakers from opposition parties that have field unified candidates in constituencies where only one seat is up for grabs in the July 10 election.

Hosei University professor Jiro Yamaguchi told the participants at the beginning of the event, "The main issue for the (upper house) election is the Constitution. We have come to the point of no return."

Senior members of the main opposition Democratic Party, Japanese Communist Party and Social Democratic Party also joined the rally to call for cooperation among students, citizens and the opposition camp. Democratic Party Secretary-General Yukio Edano slammed the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the ruling coalition, saying, "They are hiding the key issue (of constitutional amendment)."

The participants shouted, "Let's go vote," and "Change politics," while some held up signs reading, "We won't let any children get killed," as well as banners reading, "Let's go vote and not to war."

A 19-year-old university student from Tokyo who participated in the rally with a friend said, "I am absolutely against war. I'm glad that we'll be able to cast a vote in an important election after the voting age has been lowered to 18."

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