Today I went to the Diet to show my disapproval of the National Secrets bill. It's a terrible law that would choke press freedom, allow the government to cover up anything in the name of national security, turn any issue into a matter of secret record, and even make demonstrations illegal. Bad, bad, bad. 80% of the citizens disapprove, but it is passing through the legislative process anyway. Even though I am not sure protest is a great game-changer, I feel strongly enough about this to get out there and be counted.
The plan for the rally was to create a human chain around the Diet. I arrived to find a woman with a megaphone giving instructions to a couple dozen people, so I joined the crowd and took my place in line. At first, it was mostly just waiting around while more and more people came. Police made sure we stayed where we were supposed to and they were mostly polite. Press were abundant and there were professional and personal cameras everywhere.
I struck up a conversation with two young women standing next to me and we ended up sticking together for the rest of the afternoon. Just as the human chain was about to begin, we three were asked to move out of the main line and off to the side. None of us understood why until we linked into the chain that ran across the intersection in front of the Diet. Aha! Two pretty young ladies and a foreigner - of course they wanted us to move into the limelight. We made good pictures. I have a feeling you may see us in the papers or on TV, keep an eye out.
The chain was only completed twice and only during green walk signals. As soon as the green man flashed, everyone unlinked hands and ran to the curbs. Even our careful obedience of the law annoyed the police and they stopped us from doing it a third time. Still, it was fun to be part of it while it lasted.
My friends and I decided to walk around the Diet to see how big the protest was. We stopped to listen to some speeches about how this law is too easily abused. We joined in some protest songs:
Himitsu, himistu, himitsu Abe-chan!
At the very end of the rally, exactly 90 minutes after it began, we rejoined the human chain and chanted, shouting "Against the National Secrets Act!" in Japanese. HIMITSU HOGOHOU HANTAI! There were all sorts of slogans promoted by different groups who came to the rally as well as some inventive signs and costumes. Most stuck to the topic at hand, but there were a few that included an anti-TPP (also worth protesting) and a No Nukes message on their signboards.
Although I am not sure that our protest made much difference, I am glad I took part. I really despise this bill.