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20,000 Protest Government-Proposed Security Bills In Tokyo

(Press TV)  Thousands of protesters have rallied in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, to express their anger at a set of government-proposed security bills that would give greater power to the country’s military forces.

Over 20,000 protesters gathered outside Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s residence in central Tokyo on Tuesday night to voice their discontent at the bills ahead of a Thursday vote on the issue at Japan’s National Diet (parliament).

If approved, the security bills will allow Japan’s military forces to exercise the right to “collective self-defense” to support the country’s allies by engaging in military activities in foreign lands. The measure is forbidden by Japan’s current war-renouncing constitution.

The US, which imposed the constitution on Japan during its post-World War II occupation of the country, has recently been urging Tokyo to take on a more active military role in the region.

Holding banners reading “Defeat Abe’s regime” and “No war,” the demonstrators said they oppose the premier’s war policy. Some legislators from the country’s opposition parties also attended the rally.

Yukio Edano, the secretary general of main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, censured the administration during the rally, saying it is losing validity by resorting to the “unconstitutional” bills.

Opponents insist that the bills would stain Japan’s almost 70-year efforts to regain international trust to be regarded as a pacifist nation.

A growing number of Japanese people are now aware of and against the prime minister’s policies, Edano said.

Abe, however, defended the bills on Wednesday, saying that people should gain a better understanding of them.

“Unfortunately, the Japanese people still don’t have a substantial understanding” of the bills, the premier told the House of Representatives committee, adding, “I will work harder so public understanding would deepen further.”

This comes as according to some opinion polls on the issue, over half of the Japanese consider the security bills as unconstitutional.