JT: Anti-war student organization SEALDs to disband after Upper House poll in 2016

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Hi Blog. Now here’s something I find profoundly disappointing. One bright outcome of Japan’s Right-Wing Swing was the reenergizing of the Grassroots Left, with regular public demonstrations promoting anti-racism and tolerance. However, one group that attracted a lot of attention for opposing PM Abe’s policies, the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs), made an announcement (at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, no less) last October that their leadership wasn’t just stepping down due to graduation from university — they were disbanding the entire group within a year.

That makes the leadership comes off as human-rights hobbyists. There is no need to make what should be a handing over of the reins to the next generation into a public spectacle of disbandment. Alas, they’re quitting, and taking the brand name with them. Abe must be grinning in great satisfaction. From eroding Japan’s democratic institutions to making investigation of government chicanery illegal to marching Japan back to its martial past (while decimating Japan’s Left in formal Japanese politics), Abe is truly winning this fight. He’s even got these brave kids running scared.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Anti-war student organization to close shop after Upper House poll
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, THE JAPAN TIMES, OCT 28, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/10/28/national/politics-diplomacy/anti-war-student-organization-close-shop-upper-house-poll/

A pro-democracy student group behind this summer’s massive youth protest against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s security legislation plans to dissolve after next year’s Upper House election, members said Wednesday.

Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs) gained widespread attention over the summer for a series of anti-war rallies held near the Diet building to protest the administration’s push to allow the nation’s military to fight abroad for the first time since the end of World War II.

Known for its unconventional demonstrations, which included rap-influenced music and stylish placards, the group was hailed for leading a resurgence in youth activism that sparked hopes in society that the nation’s politically apathetic youngsters may be changing.

“Since we started our activities as an ‘emergency action,’ and many of our members are slated to graduate from universities soon, SEALDs will dissolve after next summer’s Upper House election,” group member Mana Shibata, 22, revealed during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

“After that, if individual persons want to take action or create another movement, they are free to do so.”

Before their movement became SEALDs, many members protested the state secrecy law — contentious legislation championed by Abe that many said would impinge on people’s right to know or discover crucial government information. That group called itself SASPL, or Students Against Secret Protection Law.

After the security bills were rammed through the Diet last month, SEALDs will now focus its activities on gearing up for next summer’s Upper House election, members said. Its newest mission: to call on opposition parties to form a united front against the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Noting that the passage of the bills signals Japan’s democracy is “on the verge of collapse,” member Takeshi Suwahara, 22, said: “What is happening is a crisis. I know opposition parties have their own conflicting interests. But they must listen to voices of the public and cooperate with each other.”

Dismayed at an ever-decreasing voter turnout among the young, SEALDs will also ramp up efforts to encourage younger people to vote in elections.

The nation’s 18- and 19-year-olds will now for the first time be allowed to cast ballots in accordance with a legal revision in June.

Aside from making continued efforts to organize related rallies and symposiums, members will try to establish voting booths in places such as train stations, shopping malls and universities, they said.

“Demographically speaking, young people in Japan are underrepresented and as a result it’s difficult for their voices to be reflected in politics and fulfill their needs for education and social welfare. I believe this election is a chance to change such a trend,” Suwahara said.

ENDS

2 comments on “JT: Anti-war student organization SEALDs to disband after Upper House poll in 2016

  • Very typical, given what little I know of the Japanese left…

    It’s just so frustrating. Maybe they started the group to be cool, but now they are becoming shakaijin cool has no value anymore compared to respectability. A similar thing happens in the US or UK but there society is less tyrannical and people can stay cool into their forties while still keeping a good job. Here? Not so much…

    There is no concept of citizenship or civic duty in Japanese history. There is just loyalty to the tribe. So when students’ protests go on too long, they will be subject to unexpressed but clear derision from those around them – as if they are playing at being Western-ish for fun, and need to get back to being serious. The society understands protest as insincere drag, as carnival which serves a useful function inasmuch as it provides fake ballast to the fake claim that Japan is a democracy. But it’s not serious.

  • Pretend democracy, pretend embrace of the concept of inalienable human rights, pretend opposition parties, and pretend civil activism.

    It’s all pretend because of the perception that to (at least) put on a show is expected, and pretend since it’s a legitimate outlet for acting in a ‘non-Japanese’ way! Ohh! So cool!

    Underneath, all the power structures that are committed to returning Japanese society to the 1930’s have created a totally ossified society that stifles social mobility and individual expression, but rather is suffocating any hope of progress on purpose, as it drags Japanese society back to the feudal relationships of the disenfranchised have-nots, and the entitled ‘elites’. And (of course) the only way to hide this impending economic and legal serfdom from the masses is by constantly pumping them up with ‘We Japanese’ myths, and ever shriller ‘NIPPON ICHIBAN!’ self-congratulatory back-slappings.

    I said once before that Japan was like North Korea with shopping, but given how Abe is impoverishing the middle-class, and consumer spending is slumping, maybe we need to lower the bar; Japan is like North Korea with Electricity (although, N.B. the fear that there might not be electricity is required to get the nuclear plants back on, and the bribes flowing).

    People of my and my parents generation talked about the ‘banality of evil’ and struggled to understand how German society allowed the Nazis to to what they did. I think that my kids generation will look at Japan and ask ‘How do you get a whole nation to voluntarily turn itself into delusional and paranoid impoverished state based on national pride off-setting very real daily deficiencies and injustices?’

    Today Japan is in it’s third year of butter shortages (thank you Mr. ‘You want guns, not butter’ Abe), but what’s next (red pencils apparently), and then? Anti-biotics? Gasoline? Milk?

    It’s like being Winston Smith.

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