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|Tuesday, October 09, 2001, updated at 23:21(GMT+8)|
Japanese Lawmaker, Citizens Protest US Strikes on AfghanistanA Japanese lawmaker, civic group members and antinuclear activists staged sit-in protests in Tokyo and Hiroshima in southwestern Japan on Tuesday to oppose the US- led air strikes on Taliban targets in Afghanistan, calling for an immediate halt to the strikes, Kyodo News reported.
In Tokyo, some 40 civic group members and company workers from across Japan joined in a 48-hour sit-in organized by House of Representatives member Etsuko Kawada outside a lower house members ' office building near the Diet (parliament).
As the protest began at 1 p.m. (local time), Kawada said, " Japan has a pacifist constitution banning the dispatch of military personnel abroad to kill people. If nothing is done, a new law will be enacted, enabling Japan to send soldiers overseas."
Kawada was referring to a bill to be deliberated at the Diet starting Wednesday that would allow Japan's Self-Defense Forces ( SDF) to provide rear-area logistical support to the U.S.-led forces launching retaliatory strikes for the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
A 25-year-old company worker from Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward said Japan should stay neutral and provide opportunities for dialogue rather than military support to the United States.
In Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park, some 80 members of antinuclear groups and survivors of the 1945 atomic bombing raised a banner saying, "Stop military attacks on Afghanistan," before passers-by and students on school trips.
"A war victimizes totally innocent people. I want to see terrorists brought to justice based on international law," said Akito Suemune, a senior member of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-Bomb Sufferers Organization.
Nagakazu Sakakibara, leader of the 370,000-strong Japan Teachers Union, also criticized the U.S.-led air strikes, saying they would kill many innocent people and invite new hatred and more retaliation.
The 260,000-member National Trade Union Council, meanwhile, issued a statement protesting the U.S.-British military action and opposing the proposed SDF bill.
The council plans to hold a sit-in Thursday in front of the Diet to protest deliberation of the bill, council officials said.
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