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Zengakuren Protests against the Security Bills

SNA (Tokyo) — On July 1, a protest was held near the Diet Building that was jointly organized by the All-Japan League of Student Self-Government (Zengakuren) and the National Coordinating Center of Labor Unions, two organizations of the radical labor movement in Japan.

Zengakuren was at one time an organization feared in Japan for its revolutionary violence, and the faction involved in Wednesday’s Diet protest was the one allied with the Revolutionary Communist League, National Committee—better known as the “Middle Core Faction,” or Chukaku-ha in Japanese.

As far as is known, Zengakuren and Chukaku-ha gave up on all violent revolutionary strategies in 1991, and today they are but a faint shadow of their former selves. Wednesday’s protest brought out to the streets only several dozen, mostly elderly demonstrators and a handful of university-student aged leaders.

The SNA caught up with Ikuma Saito, the 25-year-old chairman of Zengakuren, and asked him a few questions.

Zengakuren 1In Mr. Saito’s understanding, Zengakuren was born in 1948 out of a deep sense of war remorse that swept over university campuses at that time. The movement was pledged to never cooperate again with a nationalist war.

When asked what was his biggest objection to the Abe administration, Saito said, “Of course, it’s the security bill.”

He continued, “Although the problems of the security bill are the easiest to understand, it’s not the only issue. It’s the whole package—the Worker Dispatch Law, the plans for military education at the universities, etc.”

Saito’s prediction was that the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito would, in the end, use their majority to vote the security bill into law at the end of the current Diet session; and then they might call for a snap general election. He believes there could be a possibility to put an end to the Abe government at that time.

The Zengakuren chairman’s message for students was that they needed to be aware of the fact that if Japan did begin entering wars once again, that there are not enough soldiers in the Self-Defense Forces. This could lead to what he called an “economic draft,” meaning a deliberate hike in university tuition fees in order to force more Japanese students to seek economic relief and higher education by joining the SDF.

The system in the United States, he said, could be the model for such recruitment of soldiers.

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