Thousands rally in Tokyo against Abe’s security bills


Thousands of Japanese rallied Sunday in protest at plans by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to bolster the role and scope of the pacifist nation’s military.

The protest which surrounded the Diet building was held as the nationalist premier tries to force through parliament a set of controversial bills making the changes.

The bills are a pet project of Abe, who says Japan can no longer shy away from its responsibility to help safeguard regional stability, and must step out from under the security umbrella provided by the United States.

The draft legislation would broaden the remit of Japan’s well-equipped and well-trained armed forces.

It would allow them to go into battle to protect allies—so-called “collective defense”—something which is banned by a strict reading of Japan’s pacifist constitution.

Opponents of the bills accuse Abe of trying to move the country away from pacifism, while three scholars summoned to the Diet testified this month that the bills are unconstitutional.

Japan’s constitution was imposed by U.S. occupying forces in the aftermath of World War II, but its war-renouncing Article Nine is held dear by many people.

“Don’t destroy Article 9,” read banners at the rally, which organisers said attracted some 25,000 people.

The legislation, which would overhaul 10 security-related laws and create a new one, would also pave the way for the military to deploy abroad on non-combat missions such as disaster relief and U.N. peacekeeping missions.

Revisions include removing geographical constraints on logistical support for friendly forces in “situations that would significantly affect Japan’s security”.

They also say Japan can defend allies “in situations where there is a clear risk that Japan’s existence is threatened and its people’s rights… are compromised through an attack on a country which has a close relationship with Japan”.

Feminist terrorist cell attack new Montreal Restaurant

A new Montreal restaurant was slated to open today on the Promenade Ontario strip in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. Rather than celebrate, however, owners Jacques Larocque, Pierre Provost, and Steve Trudeau have had to contend with a virulent campaign against their establishment—in part because the restaurant’s name, La Mâle Bouffe, is a flagrantly macho play on words on malbouffe, or junk food (‘mâle’ translates as ‘male’).

Le Journal de Montréal reports that a band of ‘radical feminists’ recently smashed one of the restaurant’s windows and plastered the Hochelaga district with posters that denounced the new business.


“The attacks are totally unfounded. I am accused of violence against women and machismo, and I find it really sad because we did nothing wrong,” protested Larocque. “The person who designed our logo is a woman.”

On June 2 the entrepreneur discovered that a large rock had been hurled through a window. Posters simultaneously appeared around the neighbourhood with the restaurant’s logo altered to display a defiant woman in place of a mustachioed man with tattoos. Translated, the posters read: “When gentrification and sexism get on well together. Against a neighbourhood that is more and more ‘clean,’ expensive, and chauvinist. Against the escalation of violence against women. Reclaim our neighbourhoods and resume control of our streets.”

“Those who have seen the people who put up the posters say they are members of a feminist-anarchist group. But no one has claimed responsibility for the vandalism so I don’t want to make too many accusations,” cautioned Larocque. “The concept behind the name La Mâle Bouffe is purely marketing. We make good food in slightly larger portions and wanted the name to be a play on words with junk food. I don’t want to attack anyone personally.”

In response to HoMa’s apparent anti-gentrification vandalism epidemic and the group’s ‘take back the streets’ message, Larocque told a reporter: “I was raised here from the age of two, so when I read that they want to take back their neighbourhood, I tell them it’s been 30 years that I’ve lived here. I lived here when it was really poor and I’m glad that the neighbourhood is no longer as poor.”

ICYMI, restaurants in another part of Montreal have been recent victims of vandalism protests as well.

China to remove visa requirements for Taiwanese: Xinhua

BEIJING – China will lift a visa requirement for Taiwanese travelling to the mainland, state media reported Sunday, part of a wider plan to reduce barriers between the two communities.

Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, made the announcement at a forum in the southern Chinese city of Xiamen, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, but did not give a date when the policy would take effect.

Taiwan residents currently need to apply for an “entry permit”, similar to a visa, before travelling to the mainland. As part of the reform, the passport-like document that was previously used for the entry permit will be replaced with a card allowing automatic entry, Xinhua said.

China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification by force if necessary. The self-ruled island split from China at the end of a civil war in 1949.

Since he became president in 2008, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou’s pro-Beijing Kuomintang party has led a rapprochement with China, with more than 20 trade deals and a tourism boom as mainland visitors flock to the island.

But many ordinary Taiwanese feel they have reaped little benefit from the trade pacts and worry about getting closer to Beijing, which led to massive protests and the three-week occupation of parliament over a trade deal last year.