So what are the opinions of current Keio students in terms of the security bills and demonstrations? We asked six students their opinions on these issues.
“I agree with most parts of the bill. These legislations will loosen the regulations on exporting weapons and it may help Japan to give a voice to the world community in a different form from sending troops overseas,” says Mr. A, an economics major. He also thinks that Japan’s alleviation of military force may help in getting cooperation in unrelated fields such as economic assistance and gaining a permanent seat in the U.N. Security Council.
Mr. B, who belongs to the law department, also agrees with the legislation. “In East Asia, the power balance within countries is constantly changing. Therefore, a military build-up is necessary for Japan to keep its influence. As a developed country, Japan should take the lead in keeping the world order by participating in PKO missions.”
On the other hand, some students are not sure whether the process of the enactment, not the content itself, is appropriate. Ms. C, a junior from the Faculty of Law, Department of Politics says “Considering the constant changes in the international situation, I approve of these laws. However, I am suspicious about the unclear and immature arguments the government has developed toward its approval.” Certainly, much of the media has been focused on creating its negative image in the public eye. “I don’t have a concrete opinion whether I agree with the laws or not. I can’t decide which side I should be on solely through newscasts or newspapers because there is too much information,” said Ms. D, a freshman majoring in Literature. She has some doubts as to weather or not the government’s explanation of the new policy has been satisfactory.
Of the students who participated in this interview more than half agreed with the new legislation. At the same time, many students were in favor of the action of “demonstration march” taken by SEALDs. “It is ok for students to protest because the political participation and the freedom of expression are guaranteed in Japan. It is a good thing to have demonstrations or marches since Japan is a democratic country,” said Ms. C.
Currently, however, there are only a few students trying to express their opinions by actually joining the demonstrations. “When I have something to say, I aim to use the Internet to express those views to as many people as possible, even to those who really have no interest in the topic. If I can get them to consider it even for a moment then it is a success.” While she acknowledges that “I know that there are many people who act without caring about their own reputation. I especially respect those people whom are actively involved as students.” However, she fears that demonstrations take on too much of a festival tone. Simply a memory of some shared experience and that most end that way with no concrete results. In addition, Mr. E, majoring in commercial science, says “I never participate in demonstrations. In my opinion, protests are almost always ineffective and we, as students, have no time to do such things.”
In these interviews, almost all students found demonstrations effective to some extent but they do not seem to think that it is the most influential way of representing one’s views.
In these way, we have interviewed people from various scenes, from demo participants to university students. They have acknowledged the difference of opinions concerning legislation between the young and the old generation. The old generations, who experienced war, disagree with the legislation because they think it may raise the likelihood that Japan will get caught up in another war.
On the other hand, the younger generations, who have no firsthand experience of war, agree with the legislation because they focus on its advantages for Japan in terms of international relations rather than the likelihood of war. This idea is spread mainly by students.
Moreover, their different priorities make them think differently. The old generations put importance on the preciousness of human lives, while the young generations put importance on the profit and loss as a nation.
There have been many questions raised with regards to demos. “Are they pointless?” “Are the students in some way intrigued by this image of themselves as demonstrators?” There are many criticisms to this issue. While the recent drastic drop in the number of voters among the younger generations and their general lack of interest in politics has been taken up as a problem time and time again, these demonstrations seem to signal a shift in young people’s attitudes towards politics.
The image of one’s piers demonstrating has aroused restlessness within Japan’s youth, along with the realization that “Our country is currently at a critical turning point.”
While demonstrations were unable to prevent the legislation from passing, they have lead to a change in the way we see politics and our relationship to the world around us. Although the legislation has passed, people will continue to hold demonstrations as a way of resistance.
Written by Serina Omata, Mizuki Hosoe,
Sato Yamaha, Moeko Aramaki,
Ririko Tanifuji, Naoshi Chiba, Sakura Suga,
Edited by Yamaha Sato