A Japanese civic group led by scholars, lawyers and journalists submitted signatures collected from 1,658,955 citizens who support its anti-war agenda to both chambers of the Diet on Monday.
The Anti-War Committee of 1,000 seeks to collect signatures from 3 million people by the end of July.
At a press conference in Tokyo, author Makoto Sataka, one of the group’s leaders, said, “I believe an increasing number of people will come to think that a set of national security bills sponsored by the government are problematic.”
The group is calling on the government to cancel a Cabinet decision last July on the reinterpretation of the Constitution for allowing the country to exercise the right to collective self-defense and to promote diplomatic policies and efforts to help solve conflicts based on the spirit of the pacifist charter, and not to establish laws or sign treaties enabling Japan to join wars.
Between January and May, the group sought signatures from people who support these arguments across the country.
Sataka criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, Komeito, saying, “The ruling camp completely lacks a stance of listening to public opinions.”
At the same press conference, Hosei University professor Jiro Yamaguchi noted, “Abe has said that he had decided to extend the current regular session of the Diet in order to ensure thorough discussions on the security bills, but no substantial debates have been taking place.
“The government and the ruling camp are to blame for the lack of full-fledged debates,” he added.
The 150-day Diet session, originally scheduled to end last Wednesday, was extended by 95 days until Sept. 27 as the government and the ruling bloc aim to ensure the passage of the security bills, which are designed to expand the scope of the Self-Defense Forces’ activities abroad.
Last year, the civic group submitted about 2.57 million signatures opposing the July 2014 Cabinet decision to the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors.