January 19, 2017
Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy-s
Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs) is a group that was formed by college students to protest the Abe’s administration’s efforts to enact new security legislation that would create a right to collective self-defense and allow Japan to participate in wars abroad.
Since June, SEALDs has held weekly demonstrations in front of the parliamentary building. The group has rapidly increased in size and now includes people from a variety of ages, including high school students as well as adults. SEALDs’ activities have drawn attention not only from domestic media attention, but also foreign media, like the BBC.
Report by BBC http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-33546379
The group has received support from prominent scholars and commentators, a number of whom have given speeches at the protests in front of Parliament. For example, professor Setsu Kobayashi, an expert in Constitutional law, has participated in their protest. Professor Kobayashi is one of three constitutional scholars who has claimed that the proposed security legislation which is currently being debated in the parliament is unconstitutional. Another prominent critic has been Shigeaki Koga. Koga, a news commentator, is known for his phrase “I am not Abe.”
Current members of Parliament have also participated in the protests, including former prime minister and member of the Democratic Party of Japan, Naoto Kan, the chairman of the Japan Communist Party, Kazuo Shii, and the co-leader of People’s Lives Party, Taro Yamamoto.
In addition to their regular protest on Friday, SEALDs held a demonstration between July 15th and 16th in front of the parliamentary building in order to protest the parliamentary vote on the security legislation.
The journalist Rei Shiba claims that SEALDs has had broad appeal because their opposition is not seen as driven by ulterior motives, like electoral considerations. Their message has simply been that they do not want to see Japanese citizens die in conflicts. One of their frequently used signs reads “No War. We will really stop war.” It is simple, straightforward messages like these that have garnered public support.
SEALDs uses SNS often, making it easy for people in Japan or abroad to connect with them on Twitter and Facebook.
“I believe that it is meaningful to convey my own opinions with my own words and my own voice, not someone else’s words.”
“I am not ashamed of sharing my opinions in order to protect my freedom and rights. I believe that this will only achieved through my perseverance.”
One of interesting features of SEALDs rallies is their use of a rap in their chanting. In the video below, you can see SEALDs members rapping, and the audience responding.
A member of SEALDs says: “Kyoko Saiketsu Zettai Hantai!” (which means “we definitely oppose ramming the legislation through [Parliament]”.)
The crowd responds with “Kyoko Saiketsu Zettai Hantai!”
The member says “Minshushugitte Nanda?” (which means “what is democracy?”)
The crowd responds with “Nanda?” (which means “what is?”)
The member says “Tell me what democracy looks like?” (She says this in English.)
The crowd says “This is what democracy looks like.” (They also say this in English.)
Another interesting feature of their rallies is the stylish designs of their placards. They can be downloaded through their Twitter account. The SEALDs placards are quite popular among demonstrators and are often used by demonstrators from other organizations as well. They are even used by older demonstrators. The use of raps and the use of stylish placard designs are due to the fact that the organization is spearheaded by young people.
We have been asked by native English speakers why SEALDs has an “s” at the end. However, as of today, we have not been able to find the reason.