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Japanese celebrities lead protest tweets over Abe's legal change attempt

This file photo taken in Tokyo on April 26, 2019, shows the red-brick building of the Ministry of Justice. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A number of Japanese celebrities took to Twitter this weekend to criticize the government's attempt to extend the retirement age for prosecutors, with one warning the move could "destroy" the country.

The tweets by those including actors, actresses and musicians were widely retweeted by other users with the Japanese hashtag meaning "I oppose the revision of the public prosecutor's office law" and totaled more than 3.8 million on Sunday evening.

The revision bill, which would lift the retirement age to 65 from 63, has been discussed in parliament since last month.

It would also allow for further extension if the Cabinet gives approval, a special provision that critics say could damage a fair judicial system by enabling the administration to decide which prosecutor can stay in office longer.

"Please do not twist the law or politics anymore for the sake of self-protection. Please do not destroy this country," actor Arata Iura said.

Many of the tweets also said the government is trying to push the bill through at a time when it should focus on responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

"In this confusion over the coronavirus, we should focus on (saving) people's lives. It's a tragedy for Japan to forcibly decide on the bill, which is far from democracy," theater director Amon Miyamoto said.

Others expressing protest against the proposed legal change included actress Kyoko Koizumi and pop singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came under fire earlier this year after it let Hiromu Kurokawa remain as chief of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office after he turned 63.

Kurokawa is widely believed to be favored by the prime minister's office, and the move has sparked criticism from opposition parties and bar associations.

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