Civil Alliance Holds Press Conference at Foreign Corresspondents’ Club of Japan

On June 17, Professor Koichi Nakano of Sophia University, SEALDs leader Aki Okuda, and lawyer Utako Nagao held a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan as representatives of the Civil Alliance for Peace and Constitutionalism. The Civil Alliance is an umbrella organization consisting of five organizations: SEALDs, Mothers Against War, Associations of Scholars Against Security Related Laws, Save Constitutional Democracy and Sogakari Kodo. The Civil Alliance was established in December 2015.

In the press conference, Professor Nakano said that as a result of efforts by the Civil Alliance, the four opposition parties (Minshin-To, Social Democrat Party, People’s Life Party and Japan Communist Party) have united in their campaigns for the Upper House election on July 10. He also said that due to efforts of the Civil Alliance, the opposition parties were able to come together to support single candidates in all 32 constituencies where only one seat is up for election. Nakamo mentioned that this is a notable political development since it is the first time in the history of Japan that opposition parties have cooperated so closely with one another.

Another important thing that Nakano announced is that the Civil Alliance will get involved in the Tokyo gubernatorial election, which will be held following the resignation of governor Yoichi Masuzoe. Civil Alliance generally does not involve itself in local elections, but in the light of the fact that the governor’s election has become so important, they decided to get involved. However, Nakano expressed his concern that the media is reporting more on Masuzoe’s scandal than on the upcoming Upper House election.  He urged Japanese media outlets to expand their reporting on the Upper House election campaign since there are only three weeks left until the vote.

Okuda appeared wearing a SEALDs shirt with “DON’T TRASH YOUR VOTE” printed on the back. Okuda stated that he would like to change the culture of elections so that average citizens play a more active role in them. As an example, he pointed to Bernie Sanders’s campaign website whose first page says “This is your movement.” This phrase indicates that the campaign is owned by the constituents, not politicians. He added that it was positive to see so many photos of Sanders’s supporters on his website. It seems that Bernie Sanders has captured the heart of young Japanese liberals as well.

Nagao is the head of Mothers Against Wars and expressed her concerns about the Liberal Democratic Party’s constitutional reform proposals as a mother of small children. She stated that the Security Related Laws have may end up costing precious lives. In addition, she mentioned that LDP’s constitutional reforms could limit individual freedoms and freedom of expression.

The youtube video of the press conference is titled Nakano, Nagao & Okuda: “Civil Alliance for Peace and Constitutionalism”/deformed democracy by Abe

Below is the transcript of the press conference.

Moderater: Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to our Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. My name is Stephano Carrer, I’m the correspondent of the Italian economic daily newspaper called Il Sole-24 Ore.

We are here today to listen to the voices of some members of the civil society in Japan that are opposing the recent trends of Japanese politics, and policies of the government, and you know for the first time, next month, 18 years old people in Japan will be allowed to vote. Actually, 40 years later than in my country, Italy, because in 1976, for the first time the 18 years people were allowed to vote. But that time, it was at the peak of the involvement of young people into politics.

But, in Japan, it seems that you know young people are not particularly interested in politics, so it’s not sure that these new things will make a big difference. But, we will listen now to what our guests will say.

At the center, there is Professor Koichi Nakano of Save Constitutional Democracy Japan, and Association of Scholars Opposed to the Security Related Laws and at his right, there is Aki Okuda of the movement of SEALDs that gained attention last year opposing new collective self-defense laws. Near me is Utako Nagao, of Mothers Against War. Without further delay, I will first give to professor Nakano to make an introductional speech. Please professor Nakano.

Professor Nakano:Thank you. Good afternoon. I can see it here here today that there are many members of the Japanese press here and so perhaps I could speak in Japanese however, I would first like to focus on speaking to the international members of the press here particularly because I believe that many of members of the FCCJ perhaps have not had much of an opportunity to learn about the Civil Alliance for Peace and Constitutionalism. So, therefore, I will first speak directly in English. Following that we will also hear from Mr. Okuda and then Ms. Nagao and we will introduce some about our future plans and so on.

The Civil Alliance for Peace and Constitutionalism was established by the members of the five associations of groups that took a central role in the protest over the last summer against the Secuity Legislation that includes the SEALDs of course and the Mothers Against War, the Association of Scholars, Save Constitutional Democracy Japan, and also what’s called Sogakari Kodo, this is the veteran pacifist movement that consists of labor unions and civic associations of the post war, and what we decided to do, once the bills were enacted was to carry on a movement in protest, and with the eye set on the upcoming Upper House election. You may realize that this is very unusual. Certainly in the Japanese context, that the civic protest immediately turns its focus on elections once the bills were passed. What we focused on was to try to push the opposition parties to join forces given the biased nature of the upper house electoral system. The electoral system for the upper house consists of partially proportional representation, but there is also heavy dose of prefecture based polls. Many of those prefecture based constituencies in fact single member constituencies 32 of them. And of course if the opposition parties remain disunited, they are not going to be able to win many, perhaps even none, of the 32 seats. So, since we established ourselves, or reorganized ourselves, as a civil alliance on December 28th. We began to lobby and to apply pressure on the opposition parties to do something that they have of course historically have never done. Of course it took time to convince them to agree to join forces. At the end, that finally came to fruition on February 19th that top leaders of the opposition parties the Democratic Party, the Communist Party, the Social Democrats, and also the People’s Life Party, they all came together to agree that they are going to join forces for the Upper House election. And then there was a further process that needed to be worked out at the local level as in each of the prefectures, the local parties and members try to work out the deal. In the last couple of weeks, finally, we were able to achieve a single joint candidecy, from the opposition camp in all of the 32 single member districts. That is of course, once again, historically something that never happened. We also on the 7th of June, earlier this month, we also had the four leaders of the opposition parties come to sign a policy agreement with us that put an emphasis on the kind of policies towards women towards the youth and children that emphasized the dignity of the individual as opposed to the authority of the state that the Abe government so keen to pursue.  We have also been in a process of endorsing in most cases those joint candidates of the opposition in the 32 single member districts.

At this point, I think we have some 20 endorsements, endorsed candidates among the 32, and that are many more to come. At the end, I think we are going to get nearly all of the 32 opposition candidates endorsed, and we are prepared to get engaged in a way that has not been seen I think in Japanese history. Its a different kind of election an election in which the citizens take part and actively push for the opposition camp. I think some of you may know that the constraints on the campaign regulations in Japan is basically outrageous. The kind of constrains that exist that basically push the candidates just to repeat their names on the van with a loud speaker in part because door to door canvassing is still banned in Japan makes it extraordinarily difficult for us to get involved. But of course, we have to observe the rules within the boundaries of what is permitted,we would like to get engaged. Students, mothers, scholars and lawyers and all of us are very keen to change the political process from the ground up by getting involved in the campaign this summer.

I’ll say a few words about the metropolitan governorship election that is also going to happen at the end of our presentation. But, now, I’d like to ask Mr. Aki Okuda to continue on. Thank you.

Aki Okuda: Good afternoon, everyone. Professor Nakano has introduced in general about the civil alliance. Therefore, I would like to follow on introducing some more specific points about the upcoming election and what we will be doing there. And as Professor Nakano has mentioned the situation where we have leaders of all of the four main opposition parties coming together,and actually taking actions together at this time of election is something which has rarely been seen in the history of Japan. However, the election system itself is still very much following the traditional way of operating as it has until now. Therefore, I hope that very much we can also make efforts to change the actual culture of the upcoming election also.

For example, if we look at the kind of agenda which are the top of each election until now this has been set or decided by the politicians themeselves and voters or people are just somehow following or going along this. However, I think this is a very old way of doing things.  Therefore, we hope to make a change in this.

If political parties were actually doing their job properly in the first place, then we wouldn’t have the need to even be going out on the streets doing it whatever it is that we are doing. However, because we have the situation we have at the moment we would like to make some changes in this political culture.

Therefore, we hope that we can also encourage more people to take an active role within the election. Looking at not just something that you watch on television and then go on a vote on the day. Actually more involvement in the lead-up also.

Therefore, for example, if we look at the cases from elections happening in other countries, and these are, as in the case of the United States, we can see for example on the homepage of  the presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, the first slogan that you see when you open his homepage is “this is your movement.” This is the first phrase that comes up and when you look at the photographs as well you can see very much see the faces of supporters who are involved in this.

However, when you look at the homepages in the case here in Japan, the link which says election, pretty much all you can see is the list of all of the names of the parliamentarians.

For example, if you look at the photographs which you see within the media in regards to the election as well or the reporting about the election, you can see in the bottom right of the slide here, it’s just politicians themselves getting excited about something, or politicians themselves taking an action. Therefore, we hope that we can make a change, and make a shift so that this election belongs to us. This election is ours.

Recently, there was an election in Hokkaido, an additional election, for the House of Representatives seat, I was also personally involved in this. I would like to share some impressions from this about the changing of the election system itself.

For example, well, in the case of the Hokkaido election, the opposition candidate was not actually successful, but in terms of how the campaign was run, I would like to make some points. If we look at the photograph on the left, this is perhaps the traditional campaigning style here in Japan where you can see the politicians standing on top of the van and speaking down to the people in a way almost looking down and convincing them.

However, we made a proposal or suggestion to change this way of campaigning to the photograph you can see on the right here where it’s very much on the same eye level, on the same position in the equal footing with the people and also having the supporters themselves speaking.

At this campaign gathering actually as well there was also not just politicians themselves speaking out, but of the 12 speakers, actually nine of them were everyday citizens or people from the local constitency and so on as well, so we want also to work to make sure that these people also have a voice in the campaign.

One of other things which also we really felt ourselves, or thought ourselves, in the process of organizing our demonstrations in the past as well was the fact that in Japan there has often been a lack of unified phrases or colors or design so on in the case of campaign or such movements as well, which is something that is quite unfashionable I think.  So, one of the efforts we are making also to take care in regards to the appearance using the same phrases and having a design sense as well. For example, we can see in the photograph on the right from the audiences position.  

This is actually two posters one by on the left Japan’s communist party, on the right Democratic Party, but actually using the same design colors and phrase there.

These photos demonstrate or show different activities that were conducted in Hokkaido.

We also had many posters put up throughout the different communities and so on to encourage a higher rate of voting.

We also created a homepage which would inform people about ways that they could directly become involved in the elections in the Hokkaido case.

Across this there are various methods which we are putting into play here, but one of the other questions which was mentioned before as well was how to have more cooperation between those who were involved in campaign headquarers in a professional capacity and those citizens who are becoming involved in the election and the campaigns as well. This is something which has not so much taken place in Japan before, so we were trying various methods as we are going along.  

For example, even while there may be many people who have actually gone to vote in the election, of them, the number of people who would have actually involeved in the electional campaign is very low

So, first of all one of the things that we are doing is looking for places where people can gather in this sense. In this case, we also have the consolidation of the four main opposition parties as well. So, we are also looking for spaces where they can all come together.

So, why is it that it’s important for citizens to make their own promotional materials or speak out in these kind of ways? One of the reasons for this is that those materials which are produced by the advertising agencies and political parties themselves, their reaches are quite limited.

We are trying to show what kind of possibilities there are,  what kind of options and ways there are for people who become involved. So,  we are making presentations like this and also demonstrating thorughout the country at the moment.

I think it’s important to convey about politics looking on an equal footing on the same eye level as well.And not just using difficult terminology and so on, but in a very everyday sense.

This is some information from the civil alliance homepage. At the beginning of the press conference today we also held up some placards, but we are making these kind of materials that people can use anywhere in the country.

So the different candidates can change their different colors and so on to use these posters in different ways.

These were also used the other day when we had the session for the agreement of the joint policy platform with the heads of the four main oposition parties as you can see in the photograph here.

We also have placards for each of the various different policies. Which are those you can see on the right.

And on upcoming Sunday, on June the 19th, we will be holding a large gathering in front of the ITOCHIA building here in Yurakucho from 10:30 in the morning with the Civil Alliance and also the leaders of the opposition parties.

Lately, the only phone calls that I am receiving are just asking me what I think about Mr. Masuzoe, so I hope that you can all come and report on this gathering coming up on Sunday instead.

On the Civil Alliance homepage, we also posters are available which we would like to show you.

And these will be posted on various different campaign offfices and locations throughout the cities.

The message on here is not just about being successful in the elections but changing the actual culture and method of the election themselves.So, we are writing that no matter which party is successful in the elections if they are not looking towards the people listening to the people then there’s no meaning. So, we are calling on representatives of the parties to pay their attention to the people.

We have also launched a new SEALDs post website which includes our schedule in the upcoming weeks here also different contents which can be used in relation to the election.

These are made available with free copyright for anybody to use freely. So, we hope that you can use them for yourself too.

We are also making different pamphlets, guidebooks for voting, and also some information about the Japan public officials election law, which I think is a law which is so complicated it almost seems to be made in a way which prevents people from actually taking part in the elections. So we are also putting things together to explain more about this to people.

So, this is my first time also to be personally involved in an election campaign in this kind of way. Of course there can be many things where you can look at a law and think that this law is maybe not very good or why is something not in a different way. However, there is a lot that you can also notice when you become involved yourselves. I think that for a lot of Japanese people maybe it takes them a lot of time to take the first step or to perhaps actually to take that action to become involved. But, once you do take the first step, there is a lot of things which can be learned and can really learn that it’s not just that there’s no use, but there is an effort that you can make.

Thank you very much.

Utako Nagao:

Good afternoon. My name is Nagao Utako. I’m a representative of the Mothers Against War which is the mothers’ association against the Security Bills and I’m also a lawyer. I’m involved as a volunteer within the Civil Alliance.   

First of all, I would like to explain about Mothers Against War. This organization which was set up in an oppostion to the security related bills was first launched in July of last year and has expanded with a slogan of not allwoing anyone’s child to be killed. At the time of the Security Related Bills being passed last September, we had around 50 organizations throughout the country. We have since expanded to have membership within all 47 prefectures throughout Japan or local associations within each prefecture. We now have more than one hundred Mothers Against War local chapters throughout Japan.

Just as we may believe that our own children are dear and precious. This is the same for anyone’s children, for for any children. This is also the same as the preciousness or the importance of lives themeselves. Our own children’s lives are also equal to those of the lives of Self Defense Force personell, child soldiers in South Sudan and so on. Therefore, we are working to make sure that or we are working in opposition of Security Related Laws, which have the risk of taking away these precious lives.

The expansion of Mothers Against War association throughout Japan is not only because of the fact that the law was passed but also the fact that despite it has being passed, there are many child rearing generation or women throughout Japan as well who feel that we cannot accept this law, or these Security Related Bills. Therefore, I think this really demonstrates very much the will or the feeling of these mothers.

So, the Mothers Against War association is not conducting campaigns or support for any specific candidates in the election. However, many of our individual members are involved in various local citizens activities in their local communities. And also involved in working together to bring together the different opposition parties in their common efforts in the campaign as well. I think that there has been perhaps within different political parties also within the civil’s movement perhaps various conflicts arising. The Mothers Against War group  is also playing somewhat of a gentle role to come in as new to the scene or as an amateur to smooth things out and play a role to ensure that it can go forth without conflicts and so on as well. So, we have been involved in advocacy for single candidates within the opposition parties as well.

In Japan, we have a quite low rate of voting in the elections as well. Therefore, we are also carrying out activities to increase this, to encourage people to go and take part in the election. For example in the handouts, which are many of you I think have today as well which is put out on behalf of the Mothers Against Wars chapter in Tokyo. We are working with the slogan “instead of going to war go to vote.”

Many parents of course when they are selecting a birthday present to give to their children will think about what will bring happiness to their child? What would be useful for them in the future lives and so on? I think it’s very much the same when we looking at what kind of society to be choosing as well. We should be looking and putting our efforts into thinking about what kind of future, what kind of society do we want for our children and therefore, this is what I believe important in the elections.

Within the international community, Japan is one example of a country which in recent years has not participated in the war of other countries or experienced revenge as a result of hatred or the cycle which comes out of this as well. Well, maybe impossible to prevent natural disasters. We hope to create a Japan where people can live without the fear of nuclear power plant disaster, being able to live in safe and security, respecting also differences, diversity and also the individual, being able to say your opinions freely as well, and to look at, being able to look not only at the different interests of political parties of the current government, but in the situation of the people of themselves.

So, rather than looking at the situation of thinking, well hoping, that Japan will die off considering the situation of being difficult to enter nursery schools which is one of the recent slogans that we have heard here in Japan. Rather than having such very saddening phrases and so on being able to create a Japan in which women can continue to work, and live and bring up their children in a safe and secure environement rather than lives which pursue just the riches of the one percent being able to have a society of Japan where 99 % of the people can live their ordinary lives in peace. As well as this being able to look at the things that we may take for granted to be able to go forward in a way that will also continue to be taken for granted where we can believe tomorrow will continue. In Japan with future, and the future for our children. This is the kind of Japan which we want to pass onto the next generations.

In the draft revision put out by the Liberal Democratic Party of the Japanese Constitution, in article 9 which is, sorry, article 13 about the respect of the individual, they have taken out the Chinese character which refers to the individual. And rather positioning not the people, sorry, not the country, not the state being for the people,  but the other way around the people being there for the purpose of the state. They are also deleting paragraph two of the article 9 of the current constitution, and allowing or including the allowance of the use of the right to collective self-defense. And also within the second paragraph of article 9 also trying to create a national defense army. Within this, this is also limiting the freedom of the individual and the freedom of expression for the purpose of the public interest and public order.

In the LDP draft constitution as well, they are looking to create clauses about emergency situations which would also put a stop to the current constitution. This is completely 180 degrees changing the current constitution and going backwards. It’s a draft which actually goes against the history of humanity which has obtained the rights of the individual, and the individual freedoms. The kind of society which we can see in the draft of the LDP is something which does not value the individual which instead goes to maintain an army and which takes away the freedom of the people and the country itself. This is not the kind of Japan which I want to leave to my son or to other children as well.

To ensure that we will not be in the kind of situation where after the election, the  LDP would say the people are in support of our draft proposal, our draft revision of the constitution, so we will go ahead with this. To ensure that we will not see this kind of a situation and to prevent the changing of the constitution, I believe that it is very important for these issues to be raised as important agenda in the upcoming House of Concillors election. In this House of Concillors election, Mothers Against War members will continue to work to think about what kind of Japan we want to leave for our children and future children and to put our hopes into those opposition candidates who are saying “No” to the LDP’s draft constitution. We will continue to work together with the Civil Alliance for this. Thank you.

Professor Nakano:

We are running low on time, however I would like to make one additional comment in regards to the Tokyo gubernatorial election. As Mr. Okuda mentioned as well, reporting lately is focusing very much on the situation of Mr. Masuzoe, and we are seeing very little reporting at all or debate about the policies in the House of Counselors. There are only three weeks until the House of Concilors election. This is also potentially the first election, as Ms. Nagao has mentioned, which could enable more than two thirds of the majority which would allow the constitutional revision. Japanese media has the resposibility to tell the truth of this full situation. Please report in a way that will not make us being embarrassed to the rest of the world.

In regards to Mr. Masuzoe and the gubernatorial election as this is a local election by principle, the Civil Alliance would not be involved in this. The Civil Alliance has a principle to be involved in the national election.However considering the importance of this gubenatorial election in Tokyo we are making a position clear.

As we can see with the resignation this week of Mr. Masuzoe and also the previous case of Mr. Inose as well. These are two Tokyo governors in a row who have resigned while they were still in term. Both politicians who were supported by the LDP and Komei To, coalition. This is actually a ten billion yen waste in terms of the amount or the cost which is involved in these elections.

And to prevent such a situation from occurring ever again, we are also calling for the joint fight from the opposition in the case of the Tokyo gubernatorial election as well.

Therefore, the Civil Alliance will be backing up efforts to put together these efforts of the opposition parties together and come up with a candidate together. We will be working for the success of this in the upcoming election also. Thank you very much.

Moderator: OK. So, I understood that you are working hard to try to avoid for the Japanese war today. Italians will have to do it in next October. In Italy, we will have to vote for refurendum to changing the Constitution. OK. Let’s open the Q and A session. So, first professional press. Please state your name and affiliation.

Japan Times:

I’m from the Japan Times, I have two questions for Professor Nakano. The first question, you mentioned that constitutional revision issue is not so much on the agenda of the upcoming election. I would like to ask your views on perhaps the government not raising this issue so much or somewhat avoiding this and what you think is in the background and the reason for this?  And the second question is looking at if we do see the situation where two thirds of the seats are taken by the government, could you tell us what you believe the significance will be for the Japanese society, what kind of risks it will pose to Japan?

Professor Nakano:

Thank you very much. I think this is a question of whether we will be fooled three times. The first of these is in April, 2013. Three years ago when we saw the Abenomics issue being put forward by Prime Minister Abe as the agenda on the House of Concillors election, which led passing of the special secrecy law which was actually not on the official policy platform before the election.

The second example of this was December 2014 where there was the surprise general election and we saw the case in the House of Representatives with also appeals regarding Abenomics being made as the significant agenda at the time following this, we saw the passing of the Security Related Bills. However, the situation in Japan is that the international consensus that Abenomics has failed has not actually being fully shared in Japan.

We are seeing as well from people being fooled by the fact that these economic figures and so on are being put up as the main policy points in this election. However, this puts forward the risk that a similar scale of the number of seats put forward when this is combined as new groups coming out such as initiatives from Osaka.

Therefore, we are appealing about the dangers of constitutional revision. We are also appealing about this not only whether people are for or against this revision or constitution amendement itself, but also in regards to the questions about the methods in which this is being done and the very methods of democracy as well.

And in regards to the question about what will happen if more than two thirds of the seats are obtained by the government, this will of course take us down the path of constitutional revision. With a combination of both the government and also other pro-ammendment forces.

And as Miss Nagao mentioned as well this is very likely to be done in the form of, for example, passing certain emergency situation laws which can be presented as being laws in relation to potential disasters and so but will actually be very much hiding the really situation and pushing forward this revision.

And if such a situation were to occur what it is that the government most despises is in fact actually rich debate or discussion on these issues as well.

Therefore, I believe that it would lead to more severe pressure or pressure on the media, and  also limiting the freedom of the press. Of course we are in opposition to this.

Pan Orient News (Middle East):

My name is Khaldon Azhali from Pan Orient News. Thank you very much. The question is for anybody who  would like to answer Prime Minister Abe and Jiminto (Japanese for Liberal Democratic Party) they say you are in danger because  China and  North Korea might attack and invade Japan and they have nuclear weapons and you need to defend yourself. So if you are against these new laws how do you think Japan should defend itself do you think you should provide your own nuclear umbrella, you should make your own nuclear weapons for example?  You should continue depending on America to defend you? or you should become stronger or how do you tell them your scenario to become stronger and be able to defend yourself if you don’t want this new defense policy? Thank you.

Professor Nakano:

The first point that I would like to make is that the clear misunderstanding perhaps. I mean the first thing that we agreed with is that leaving aside the question of remilitarization of Japan, we are opposed to the way in which the security bills were enacted last summer, because they are unconstitutional. The principle of the constitutionalism is beyond the issue of whether different positions that one can take with regard to how to defend Japan. So, that’s one thing. In addition, I would probably save the first thing Japan needs to do in order to create the better security policies is to get rid of the 54 nuclear reactors along the coast line that make Japan extraordinarily vulnurable. I think its basically what I’m trying to say is that this is an island country overpopulated and aging. I don’t think remilitarization and enabling Japan to get involved in other countries’ war is going to be the answer. We don’t have that kind of budget. We don’t have the youth to defend Japan even if we start to involved in all kinds of war America wages all over the world. I think we need to be realistic. I think it has to be some combination of course of realistic diplomacy with the individual self-defense that we have for the time being. It takes of course a great deal of diplomatic efforts, but I don’t think that has been done  fully, and certainly changing the constitution through the backdoor, breaking it first, and try to form it amended later is not something that we should condone in liberal democracy. Thank you.

Associated Press:  

I’m from AP.I would like to ask the same question of each of the three speakers today. I imagine most of you if you  imagine one or  three years before, probably would not imagine at all that you would be sitting up in this position and speaking at such a  press conference. I believe that the reason why you are here is probably because you have a sense of urgency and seeing the critical situation that we are in now. However, I think there is also in a broad sense in Japan maybe many people who are not sharing the sense of urgency whether that kind of atmosphere has been created so that they are not aware of this. Are there many different issues and so on  and made problems with the constituency itself. I would like to ask a little bit about each of you individually why you are taking the courage or speaking up in this way as well as feeling this sense of urgency. One comment from each one of the speakers.  


When I was born in the start of 1990’s, this was the time when it was said that well the Japanese economy was finished, or Japan, which had been number one until then, was coming into the lost years.  And the year that I entered university was 2011 which was of course also the same year of the Great Eastern Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant disaster.  

If I could see that clearly then perhaps I wouldn’t have this sense of urgency. However, I’d feel very much when we look now at the situation I have to question where is Japan headed? Where is Japanese society going? Not seeing this is something which led to this sense of critical urgency.

So, for example, if we look at the fact that politicians were repeatedly saying the nuclear power plants are definitely safe, but at the same time we saw what they were saying changing two times, three times over and over again at the same time they were saying safe. We saw on the NHK live television cameras the explosions at the nuclear power plant. This made me think that we cannot just believe or trust what the politicians are saying in this way.

There’s also an expanding disparity within Japan at the moment as well. So, this really makes me think that rather than just leaving this up to other people to put forward or to decide where the country should go, this is the time each of us individually need to think for ourselves and make an action as well.

I think that it was perhaps just coincidence that I happened to take action early on.

So, I think that within the society of course it’s impossible to live just on your own. That’s why we have the society, politics and so on as well. But,  when we are going down the direction of looking at the individuas responsibility or placing the blame on the individual saying it’s your fault as well.

I think we need to change this situation and instead look at how we can survive in this society together and actions to think about this in a vary serious way.  

So that’s why I’m sitting here today and that’s why I believe that also maybe other people who are not planning to be up here or to be sitting here today will be here in the future as well. Thank you.


As you mentioned I myself never imagined that I would be sitting in a kind of situation as  as we are here today and this is the case not only for me personally, but also other members of our group as well – we never imagined perhaps that we would be making flyers or standing out on a street and handing these out as well.

So, after the March 11th diaster really having questions about whether we could believe politics or losing beliefs in politics after that, but following this also last year looking at the Security Related Laws and the process in which the deliberations and the passing of these laws took as well. Not only that it was very unconstitutional way, but the way that you look at the deliberations in the Diet for example and how these discussions were going forward. How even we even though we had minutes being made, recorded or made available and so on in relation to these deliberations really showed that if a law can be passed in such a way, this really has a very critical sense about where this country is headed and should not be allowed to go in this direction.

And another reason for having this sense of urgency is the fact that I feel that I can’t let myself feel despaired. The reason for this is we as the Mothers Against War also of course have our children and we need to pass-on to this next generation as well.  

Therefore, while our efforts or while our power individually may be quite small, we believe that when we come together we will do all that we can to make an impact in this as well. As the Mothers Against War, we believe that we can reach out to those people who are maybe uninterested in the issues at the moment to help make ways they can also raise their voices about these situations. We are doing this through for example using every-day language and making this in an open way and connecting with people as possible to make a change in the political situation.


For me perhaps, I’m in a somewhat different situation to other two speakers. The first time for me to speak here at the FCCJ would have been around 10 years ago. In  the position of being a political scientist, or a political researcher, I have been here for providing election related analysis in an objective perspective. He is now retired, but for example, I had an opportunity to be here with Professor Gerald Curtis of Columbia University to provide analysis on the Japanese political situation to the foreign press.

However, in October of 2014, I came here for the first time here in a very different position than I had been until then. This was together with another academic who was involved in in the civil alliance Mr. Jiro Yamaguchi of Hosei University, and this was at the time in the defense of the former Asahi Shimbun reporter, Mr. Uemura. And this was at the time when Mr. Uemura was being atttacked in regards to the so-called comfort women issue. We felt that there was a need to appeal to international opinion about this. So this was the first time I appeared here was specific position, shall we say.  And then I believe it was just a few weeks after this actually, but after a comment that I made in particular international newspaper, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs actually made a statement that you should not be interviewing Professor Nakano in relation to these issues. They made a statement with my particular name included in this. And this was within an email but that was the reality of the situaiton. And actually I believe it was in May of last year, around one year ago. But I was actually awarded the friend of the freedom of press award here from the FCCJ. So, I think this very much demonstrates the kind of time we are living in now, where principles such as freedom and democracy which should be at the very core of politics rather than even before you get to the issues of particular policy issues and so on are indeed in danger under the current government who are conducting what we could call a divide and rule kind of system policy in order to go forward with their policies. So, I hope that we can as soon as possible be done with this current government, so that I can return here to the FCCJ, once again in my position back as a political analyst.

Moderator: May be we can have one last question.

French Television:

My name is Joel Legendre from French television. Nakano-san ( san is Japanese that means Mr.), my question is for you. I would like to ask you and maybe you also Madame Nagano, beyond the constitution, beyond Masuzoe losing his ryoshusho ( a handwritten receipt) and so on, what are the Japanese people really expecting today, what do they tell you they want? You are going on a grass roots system. I think it is very interesting to go beyond the usual strength of the party. Now what are the Japanese society suffering of now?  

Ryoshusho 領収書

Well, I think the turnout is very telling. The last two national elections recorded the turnout of 52.62% 52.7% basically,  one in half Japanese is abstaining, and the LDP is stronger than ever and controls so many seats in the Diet. The total of the votes that they receive in each of the elections since Abe came back to power has not recovered to the level of the Aso government when it lost disaserously to the DPJ. This is the fact. So, it’s not as if many Japanese went back to the LDP and started to vote for the LDP again and that’s why it’s so strong. It has to do with disaffection. It has to do with the inability of the opposition party to provide an alternative that the voters can choose. The Japanese people have not chosen Abe to return to power. They may have done so but only very passively. What we were trying to do is to provide an alternative by pushing the opposition parties making sure that they listen to us and they change their ways and they provide a receptacle as it were so that voters can opt for if they want to vote Abe out. That is what we are trying to do. I think well in that sense people are disaffected I think they are not trying to do what they want certainly some people of course are passively accepting Abe. I don’t think there is any doubt about that, but I think at the same time there is a lot of people who are uncertain because of course if you have the prime minister campaigning on a platform there is no other way there is no alternative. That is a scary condition. In a liberal democracy you do need to have an alternative path, and alternative proposals, and at this point that is not an offer. What we are trying to do is to do the exact opposite of what Abe is doing. I think he prioritises the state authority, state power, we put an emphasis on individual rights and dignity, freedoms, a society in which diversity is embraced. That’s why we want to provide. That’s what we are pushing the opposition parties to campaign on. Thank you.

BuzzFeed Japan:

I’m from BuzzFeed Japan. The internet media site. I have a question for Professor Nakano and Mr. Okuda. First of all, as well as the citizens movement which you are involved in there is also the other citizens movement we can see gaining strength in Japan which is that on the other, on the revisionist side of the Constitution which is Nippon Kaigi, Japan Conreference and so on. Professor Nakano. I would like to ask your analysis of what you see about the  positioning or the  support for this movement. For Mr. Okuda, I would like to ask how you believe that your appeal will reach people, or  reach more than the appeal of those on the other side. And as a second question, I’d like to ask a question about the design on your shirt pocket. If that is  something you made yourself or if you could tell us about that.


First of all, if I believe that our movement will be stronger than Nihonkaigi Japan conference, because it is because that I believe we can be stronger than this is why I am doing what we are doing.

In regards to the shirt that I’m wearing this is being produced by SEALDs, our group. We are selling T-shirts and shirts and so on with these designs at a department store, PARCO in Shibuya.

We are selling them online upcoming on the 8th of July, we are holding an event at the venue UNIT in Daikanyama.

There are many different artists and so on becoming involved or coming to these movements. However, there is still a great distance between politics. So we are using these kinds of tools to make it more everyday to bring it closer as well and so the messages in these shirts is don’t trash  your vote. So, encouraging people to just go and vote as the first step.

And the Nippon Kaigi was formed in the year 1997, but at the same time we could see the formation of the Diet members’ groups supporting or the Diet members in alliance with this group at the same time was also when there was the rise of the tsukuru kai which was the association for creating the new revisionist history textbooks as well. And also, the  young Diet Members Association for relooking at Japanese history of which the current Prime Minister Abe was also a member. We can see that also these different groups were cooperating or working together from this initial time as well. The reason I’m pointing this out is that I believe is that it demonstrates that nwhile they might be showing on the surface that they are a grass roots movement and so on In fact they are actually being launched or supporedt through these political media and religious elites and being used by these groups to mobilize  the masses in the way so they are  very fundamentally of a completely different nature the movement which we are undertaking.

And so this could be said or it has been pointed out to be, in some ways, imitating the methods of the traditional left wing movements in terms of mobilizing in these mass or group ways as well.

And so this could be said or it has been pointed out to be, in some ways, imitating the methods of the traditional left wing movements in terms of mobilizing in these mass or group ways as well. While our movement is working together with the labour unions who may have traditionally been involved in mobilizing people to attend or be involved in such movements, actually the people even involved in the labour unions themselves are saying that within our demonstrations or activities and so on as well, the number of people who are there in a mobilized sense as part of these unions and so are actually much fewer than those who were there in an individual or voluntary way, in their own capacity.

And I think if  we look even at the three of us who are here today this very much demonstrates it. We have Okuda here who launched with his colleagues also as a university student SEALDs movement. Also Ms. Nagao here as a representative of Mother’s Against War which has very much  come up from with various individuals becoming involved in the movement. Also here in the room is Hamada-san who is a former judge (at the Spreme Court) and involved in the international legal field with a very prestigious career as well, and myself here in a university professor. So, we perhaps are people who within in the everyday situation have no connection or actually have not worked together in this way.  We are all very much with our own opinions and way of action and so on as well. But, here looking at the very situation that we have today. Feeling that we need to so something and putting our efforts together to change this. For this reason our movement is based on recognizing and appreciating the differences and individualty of those people who are involved in this. For this reason I think it could be said to be a very liberal, individual and independent movement in that sense. While on the other side they are perhaps utilizing sort of large power, or the big media and so on to mobilize people towards efforts to revise the constitution. On our side, we are doing it in a more rough and individual way as well. But, we cannot give up the fight to preserve and maintain our freedom and democracy as well. So no matter what from now, we will be continuing these efforts.  

Similar Posts