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Tens of thousands of peace protesters thronged the streets of central Tokyo on Sunday, in the largest demonstrations yet against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial plans to alter Japan’s military stance.

在刚刚过去的这个星期天,数万名和平示威者把东京市中心街道挤得水泄不通,举行了反对日本首相安倍晋三(Shinzo Abe)有争议的改变国家军事姿态计划的迄今最大规模示威。

The protests are a culmination of weeks of demonstrations and come at a time when China’s military aggrandisement and breakneck physical expansion of islands in the South China Sea is perceived in some quarters as a rising threat to Asian stability.


Attended by 120,000, the protest on Sunday was the latest attempt to convince politicians to vote against a set of security bills that would, among other changes, allow Japan to join in collective self-defence with its allies and to dispatch its military to fight abroad.


Under Mr Abe’s leadership, say analysts, the direction of Japanese military procurement and training appears to reflect growing concern over Chinese territorial assertiveness.


The security bills are dependent upon Mr Abe’s 2014 “reinterpretation” of Japan’s constitution — a document written by the US after Japan’s defeat in 1945. The constitution is still cherished by millions of Japanese who see it as the reason the country’s military has not fired a bullet in anger for 70 years.


At one point yesterday hundreds of demonstrators chanted verbatim the key phrases of Article 9 of the constitution; the so-called “peace clause” that renounces war and which many see as diluted by Mr Abe’s legislation.


“This is the last chance we have to preserve Japan’s worldwide reputation as a country of peace,” said Ryu Hitaka, a 79 year-old veteran of Japan’s mass demonstrations in the 1960s, where thousands rallied against the security treaty with the US forged by Mr Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi.

“这是我们维护日本作为一个和平国家的全球声誉的最后机会,”现年79岁的Ryu Hitaka表示。他曾在上世纪60年代参加日本的大规模示威活动,当时成千上万人抗议安倍晋三的外祖父岸信介(Nobusuke Kishi)与美国达成的安保条约。

“If this law passes, that’s it. Article 9 is basically dead. Abe tells us that he is making the country safer, but what he is really doing is preparing a nation to make war,” said Mr Hitaka.


Many of the older participants in the demonstrations said that Mr Abe had not learned the lessons of Japan’s militaristic past, and that China also now risks falling into the same dark hole.


Their comments reflect a growing sense of unease in Japan ahead of China’s planned military parade on September 3 to mark what the ruling Communist Party in Beijing calls the “anniversary of victory in the war of Japanese aggression”.


The Chinese government is preparing to lock-down the heart of Beijing for a bristling display of military might and national ambition. The parade will include 12,000 troops and 500 vehicles and is surrounded by tight security.


While ostensibly a public event, the government has made it clear that the only way to see it is from the official parade stand on Tiananmen Square or on television. At least two foreign journalists living along the parade route were visited on the eve of a rehearsal last week by teams from the public security bureau and warned they would be deported if they watched or filmed.


The parade is to culminate in tanks rolling through the symbolically resonant Tiananmen Square, where hundreds of Chinese students were massacred in 1989 by soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army, ending weeks of protests in a bloodbath.


Several prominent world leaders, including Mr Abe, have decided not to attend, and of the major countries to participate in the second world war only Russia will be represented at head of state level, with President Vladimir Putin flying in and sending a cohort of Russian troops to march with Chinese soldiers.

多位知名的世界各国领导人,包括安倍晋三,已经决定不参加,在第二次世界大战的主要参战国中,只有俄罗斯的国家元首将出席。除了总统弗拉基米尔渠京(Vladimir Putin)外,一支俄军分队将与中国军队一起接受检阅。

The parade comes at a time when Sino-Japanese relations are at a delicate juncture. Although Mr Abe recently managed to end a diplomatic deadlock between Tokyo and Beijing, territorial disputes, in particular over a set of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, remain stubbornly unresolved and potentially explosive.


However, Zhang Ming, China’s vice-minister for foreign affairs, recently sought to play down tensions with Japan and concerns over the parade.


“[China has] stressed several times that the celebrations are not targeting specific countries, not Japan or its people. It has no direct link to current Sino-Japanese relations,” said Mr Zhang.


Meanwhile, everyone living along the route of the parade has been warned: absolutely no watching. Residents have been told to stay away from windows and balconies, lest they actually catch sight of the 12,000 troops and 500 vehicles in the parade.


Meanwhile, Yuka Inagawa, a Tokyo resident attending the demonstration on Sunday, expressed concerns over rising militarism in the region.

与此同时,参加上周日示威活动的东京市民Yuka Inagawa表达了对于亚洲地区军国主义崛起的担忧。

“You cannot celebrate peace by showing off the machines of war. I hope that the Chinese see what is happening today in Tokyo and realise that this [increased militarism] is the wrong way for any country.”