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Protest rallies against security laws planned across Japan

Women protest against the new security laws that went into effect on March 29 in front of the National Diet Building in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on March 29, 2016. (Mainichi)

Protest rallies against the new security laws were scheduled in at least 35 cities across Japan on March 29 as the legislation went into force, according to Mainichi Shimbun research.

    The Okinawa Heiwa Undo Center (Okinawa peace activity center) said some 250 people gathered in Naha, the capital of Okinawa Prefecture where one in every four residents was believed to have been killed in the Battle of Okinawa at the end of the Pacific War, to participate in a protest rally organized by the peace center on March 29.

    "The new security laws are the worst legislation ever that overturn the foundation of the Constitution," said Hiroji Yamashiro, chairman of the Okinawa peace center. "We will continue to raise the voice of opposition."

    Mieko Gushiken, a 49-year-old nurse who joined the event from the city of Okinawa where the U.S. Air Force's Kadena Air Base is located, told the Mainichi Shimbun, "With more integration between Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and U.S. military, I'm worried about Okinawa becoming the target of military strikes as we host a lot of U.S. and SDF bases here." She added, "We will work toward protecting (war-renouncing) Article 9 of the Constitution and scrapping the security legislation."

    Another rally against the security laws was held in front of the Shimonoseki Municipal Government building in Yamaguchi Prefecture -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's constituent.

    Meanwhile, six members of the citizens' group "Mothers Against War@Chiba" met in a park near the National Diet Building in Tokyo's Nagatacho district at around 10 a.m. on March 29 and held a banner that read, "We won't allow anybody's child to be killed," to protest against the security legislation that allows Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense.

    "We are paying the price of remaining indifferent to politics until now," said a 46-year-old woman from Chiba's Hanamigawa Ward. "If Japan exercises the right to collective self-defense, it may be embroiled in other countries' wars. I'm worried about (the future of) children."

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