RENGO Joins 12/14 Rally to Oppose SDF Dispatch to Iraq
Co-organized by 21 Organizations; RENGO, Political Parties, NGOs
(24 Dec 2003)
Photo: Click for video (no sound)
On December 14, the 12/14 Rally to Oppose the Dispatch Self Defense Forces to Iraq was held at the Hibiya Amphitheatre. The rally drew 5,650 attendees and was organized by a planning committee consisting of twenty one organizations including political parties, NGOs and RENGO that oppose the sending of Japanese Self Defense Forces to Iraq.

After an opening speech delivered by Japan International Volunteer Center Secretary General Shimizu on behalf of organizers, other guests from participating organizations, namely RENGO President Sasamori, Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Okada, Social Democratic Party leader Fukushima, and Japan SEINENDAN Council President Matsuura also gave speeches.

In his speech, President Sasamori stated that Ëproviding humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Iraq is necessary. However, we question whether or not the current conditions make it possible to quickly dispatch Self Defense forces at this time. We object the governmentÁs reckless decision on the basic plan to dispatch the Self Defense Forces without a ceasefire agreement in place between the United States and Iraq and without a United Nations resolution.Ó The rally adopted the appeal and closed with three-part cheer.

After the rally, participants conducted a demonstration march to the Ginza district and Tokyo Station area while on the way appealing to busy passersby and chanting ËNo SDF Dispatch to Iraq.Ó

Appeal Objecting to and Demanding Suspension of the Dispatch of Self Defense Forces to Iraq
On December 9, the Japanese government endorsed a basic plan to dispatch Japanese Self Defense Forces to Iraq which is based on its Reconstruction Assistance to Iraq Special Measures Law.

It has now been over seven months since the declaration of the end of hostilities was made and yet security conditions in Iraq continue to worsen and for all practical purposes the country still remains in a state of war. Repeated indiscriminate acts terrorism are occurring that not only target the US and British occupation armies, but also members of the United Nations, Red Cross, embassies from around the world, as well as NGO groups involved in reconstruction and humanitarian assistance efforts. Two Japanese diplomats who were in Iraq to participate in a reconstruction assistance conference also fell victim to terrorism when their car was attacked and they were murdered.

Prime Minister Koizumi emphasized that the purpose of sending Self Defense Forces to Iraq is to “assist in the reconstruction of Iraq and to help humanitarian assistance.” But can the dispatch of the SDF really assist reconstruction there? Is this not merely following blindly US President Bush who started the war by breaking international law? Dispatching the SDF to current day Iraq which is still in effect in a state war even violates the Special Measures Law on Iraq which the government itself acted on. This is why 80% of all Japanese citizens harbor anxiety, concern, and are not convinced over the dispatch of the SDF.

While we do not condone the acts of terrorism that are occurring in Iraq, we also oppose the US and Great Britain’s use of military force to victimize Iraqi citizens.
We want to convey our deepest sympathy to the numerous victims of terrorism and many Iraqi people who have become victims of the US and Great Britain’s use of military force.

We hope that Iraq will be reconstructed and returned to peace at the earliest time possible and will spare no effort to cooperate to that end.

In order to reconstruct Iraq, the cooperation and assistance of the international community led by the United Nations is necessary and, above all, reconstruction should be carried out by the Iraqi people themselves.

We oppose any war. Therefore we are now opposed to the sending of Japanese Self Defense Forces to Iraq. Prime Minister Koizumi must stop the dispatch of the SDF to Iraq.
December 14, 2003
12/14 Rally to Oppose SDF Dispatch to Iraq

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