Japanese Students Demonstrate for Peace

The issue that galvanized the largest Japanese student protests since the 1960s was a proposal to beef up the military. Aki Okuda, age 23, co-organized Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs).[i] At demonstrations he led chants in hip-hop style, “No War,” “Protect the [pacifist] Constitution”, “Abe – Quit!” He wore a T-shirt stating “Destroy Fascism.” Another funder was young woman Wakako Fukuda. These activists reject the stereotype of Japanese students ad apolitical introverts. They were also motivated by the inability of large protests to prevent restarting nuclear reactors. Okuda said, “This is not a top-down movement, mobilized by the leaders of certain groups. No one can stop people who have begun to think and take action as individuals.” Students worked to influence July 2016 upper house election when the voting age lowered from 20 to 18. A professor noted, ““SEALDs projects the image that you can be normal and fashionable and political at the same time.

[i] Linda Sieg and Teppei Kasai, “SEALDs Student Group Reinvigorates Japan’s Anti-War Protest Movement,” Japan Times, August 29, 20115.


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