Speech by Mana Shibata
SEALDs (Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy)
Tokyo, Friday, July 24, 2015
Good evening. I am Mana Shibata, a college junior.
I am here to read a letter I wrote to Mr. Shinzo Abe.
Dear Mr. Abe, I am filled with deep rage and despair toward you.
Your forced passage of the security legislation at the Special Committee in the Lower House could be called a coup d’etat. In Okinawa, you have set residents against each other and proceeded with the construction of a new base. In Kagoshima, you are preparing to restart the Sennai nuclear plant without sufficiently explaining your safety policy.
In northeast Japan, there are still many people who have been living in temporary shelters for more than four years. Can you really call this “our beautiful nation Japan”?
America builds bases all over the world “for freedom and democracy,” occupies conflict regions, threatens the lives of civilians, and ever since 9/11 has been repeatedly murdering people indiscriminately in its “war on terror.”
When Kenji Goto was killed, I remember how frightened I became, wondering whether Japan would start a war on terror like America.
But Japan did not take that path then, and it must not take it now.
As a nation who has suffered atomic bombing, as a nation which does not have a military force, as a nation which has Article 9 in its Constitution, we have the responsibility to think seriously about peace and continue peacebuilding. With the Constitution of Japan, we pledged that we would not repeat the experience of 70 years ago.
I do not need a future that depends on military force. A peace based on killing, I do not call peace. Someday I hope to give birth to my own children and raise them. But I do not have the confidence to raise children in our current society.
Mr. Abe, can you wipe away my fears? Can you call this a society where parents can feel secure raising their children? Can you promise the children of Fukushima a safe and healthy future? Can you return an island without bases to the grandfathers and grandmothers of Okinawa?
I am standing here now raising my voice because I want Japan to be a country that seeks peace and promotes it throughout the world when my children are born. I want to make this a society where we think about the future, cherish life, learn from previous generations. A society where it is common sense to value such common sense.
To me, peace is little pieces of happiness like returning after school to a home where my mother is waiting for me with dinner ready; seeing a baby in a stroller laugh, opening its mouth so wide I can see it still doesn’t have any teeth; calling my grandmother to say thank you for sending me money for my education; listening to music on the train that someone special told me about. That’s the kind of daily life I want to protect.
The current government, unable to protect the Constitution, says there is no other way, and tries to affirm the Abe administration. How can the government of such a country, which so casually violates its own Constitution, be a peacemaker in international society?
I truly cannot understand how people can behave so childishly in Diet sessions; compare war to a neighborhood fire; bury beautiful Oura Bay. I do not feel the tiniest bit of intelligence or compassion in a single one of your words or actions. I only feel that you are insulting me as a citizen of this country.
Mr. Abe, I can no longer leave the government of our country up to you. I want a democratic and peaceful tomorrow where every individual is valued. I don’t want to create such a tomorrow with you. I don’t think I can.
The view I see before me here gives me hope. I wish you would stand here and see it. The faces of the people who are taking action because they seriously care about this country’s future are full of strength and hope, surely tens of times more than the faces you see every day in Nagatacho.
Neither democracy nor the future of this nation are in your hands. They are to be won by those of us here.
July 24, 2015. I call on you to dissolve the Abe administration.
Original speech video is available in Japanese:
and translated by Gerry Yokota, collaborator.
Posted by Shin Yamaaki