Tens of Thousands Protest Japanese Security Bills

TOKYO (AP) -

Mothers holding their children’s hands stood in the sprinkling rain, holding up anti-war placards, while students chanted slogans against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his defense policies to the beat of a drum.

Japan is seeing new faces join the ranks of protesters typically made up of labor union members and graying leftist activists. On Sunday, tens of thousands filled the streets outside Tokyo’s parliament to rally against new security legislation likely to become law in September.

“No to war legislation!” “Scrap the bills now!” and “Abe, quit!” they chanted in one of the summer’s biggest protests. Their cries are against a series of bills that would expand Japan’s military role under a reinterpretation of the country’s war-renouncing constitution.

Whether the protests’ momentum signals wider social change remains to be seen. They could die out once the summer holiday is over and the legislation is passed, as is widely expected.

But grass-roots groups among typically apolitical groups such as mothers and students — aided by social media — appear to be growing.