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Young protesters against security laws, support SDF deployment to save Japanese: survey

Many of the young protesters who gathered around the National Diet Building last year to show their disapproval of the new security laws set to go into effect March 29 were not against the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) helping Japanese nationals overseas, but were critical of the methods employed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration in passing the laws, according to a survey by university students.

    The survey was conducted by eight students studying under professor Mitsuru Fukuda at the journalism department in Nihon University's College of Law. They distributed a six-page survey to protesters to examine their views on peace and national security. They received answers from 408 people, and closely analyzed the responses of 102 young people between the ages of 18 and 29.

    Of the young respondents, over 90 percent answered that they "want to protect Japan's war-renouncing Constitution" and that they "don't want to send young people to war." Furthermore, 92.1 percent showed their distrust of the Abe administration, saying they thought that "the security bills were not properly debated."

    On the other hand, 80.4 percent said they thought that it would be "difficult to maintain peace through Japan acting alone" and 66.7 percent thought that "Japan's security policies should change in response to international situations."

    Regarding expanded SDF activity overseas, while less than 20 percent of the young protesters approved of efforts that would be strongly directed toward the United States, they did support overseas activities helping Japanese nationals, with 61.8 percent positive toward "rescuing Japanese nationals" and 47 percent approving of "defending an American ship carrying Japanese evacuees."

    The surveying was carried out for about a month in August last year in front of the National Diet Building, using incense to ward off mosquitos and flashlights to see at night.

    One of the surveying students, 21-year-old Kazuki Kusaba, says, "At first I didn't understand at all why the protesters were opposed (to the security bills), but while interacting with them during the surveying, I saw that, different from how they looked on TV, they were actually thinking deeply about this issue." Yudai Fujie, another 21-year-old student involved with the surveying said, "Extreme messages on placards and in protest chants didn't resonate with me, but when I talked with the protesters I realized they had a wide variety of opinions." The student added, "I feel that now that the laws have passed and made a big movement forward (in Japan's security policies), we need a meaningful debate about them."

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