A storm is building in Japan
Only eight months ago in January, no one expected Japan to be in such a turmoil. No one predicted that 120,000 protestors would surround the Diet building. No one thought that young mothers would cry out to scrap the war legislation. As with the protests last December against the state secrecy law that penalizes the disclosure of state secrets with imprisonment of up to 10 years, people thought the opposition would subside soon, just like a storm in a
Earlier this year, French author Frank Pavloff’s 1998 fable “Brown Morning” garnered attention in Japan. When the Shinzo Abe government legislated the state secrecy law that keeps various information classified for as long as 60 years, the book became popular among the Japanese.
The government in “Brown Morning” creates the “Brown Law” that bans all cats that are not brown. Scientists publish research reports that brown cats are the most suitable for the urban environment. Citizens are puzzled but soon comply with the law. Then the government orders people to keep only brown dogs, followed by brown newspapers, brown books and all things brown. The protagonist laments that people should have opposed when the law was first enforced.
This year, Japan was covered with Abe’s color. The prime minister claimed the security law was necessary to protect the lives of citizens. Earlier this month, he extended his term by three more years with the support of all seven factions in the Liberal Democratic Party leadership election.
The young group in the party said in June that the media can be best punished by cutting down on advertisement income, and the list of programs negatively portraying the government should be made public. They suggested possible media control while showing loyalty to Abe.
However, the Japanese people are different from the people of “Brown Morning,” who have little will and power to resist. The Students Against Secret Protection Law, which was disbanded after the protests against the secrecy law, was reorganized as the Student Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy to lead protests in front of the Diet. Parents and grandparents joined the anti-Abe rallies to prevent their children and grandchildren from being sent to war.
The Abe government is deaf to the cries opposing war. And it wants to amend Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. At the protest on Sept. 19, 50-year-old Takashi Hashimoto said, “The silent majority started to raise their voices, and while the law has been passed, the real fight begins now.” The storm is breaking out of the teacup and is about to sweep Japan up in a typhoon.
The author is a Tokyo correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 26, Page 26
by LEE JEONG-HEON