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50,000 rally in Tokyo for preservation of Japan's pacifist Constitution

Demonstrators hold up placards at a rally in Tokyo's Koto Ward on May 3, 2016. The yellow signs read, "Protect the Constitution," the blue signs read, "Scrap the war law," and the red signs read, "Get out Abe administration." (Mainichi)

Some 50,000 people gathered at a park in Koto Ward, Tokyo, on May 3 to call for the preservation of Japan's pacifist Constitution and the scrapping of security-related laws passed last September, according to protest organizers.

The crowds carried placards reading "Scrap the war law," and "Don't wreck Article 9" -- referring to the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution -- and chanted "Protect the Constitution!"

Also at the rally were the leaders of the opposition Democratic Party, Japanese Communist Party, Social Democratic Party, and People's Life Party. Joining them on-stage was Takeji Muno, a 101-year-old journalist who covered World War II.

"There is no stopping a war once it's started," Muno told the crowd from his wheelchair. "The energy of the young people here is overflowing. Keep on struggling to the very end!"

Aki Okuda, a 23-year-old core member of the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs) activist group, said, "We are the ones who hold sovereignty under the Constitution. It has unfailingly supported our endeavors for the past 70 years. The passages written into the Constitution are not the words of people from the deep past; they are our words."

Waseda University professor Mutsuko Asakura added, "The current administration (of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) has, through repeatedly ignoring the rules, sunk into depravity."

It was also announced at the rally that some 12 million signatures had been collected so far on a petition calling for the repeal of security legislation passed last year allowing Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. Organizers are aiming for 20 million signatures.

One 37-year-old Tokyo resident who came to the rally told the Mainichi, "This administration is heading to the right, and I feel there's a real risk that Japan will end up in a war if things keep on going like this. I decided that I really wanted to protect the Constitution."

A 33-year-old from Yokohama said, "For the sake of my children's future, I don't want the Constitution changed."

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