Don't put lives on the back burner!

On April 13, the fifth day after the abduction of three Japanese in Iraqi, about 1,200 people assembled in a rally near the Diet in Tokyo to call for the release of the hostages and an immediate withdrawal of Japan's Self-Defense Forces from Iraq.

Some were taking part in a sit-in in front of the Diet Building from the previous day, and many were there with their colleagues, friends, families, and neighbors.

They marched in demonstration through government office buildings, holding banners that read, "Save the three! Withdraw the U.S. forces and the SDF!" Demonstrators' held placards reading, "Iraq doesn't need the SDF."

"I was watching TV and I was compelled to come here," said 61-year-old Imaizumi Michiko, who was with her three friends. "Prime Minister Koizumi said Japan wouldn't 'withdraw the SDF', making me more concerned that the three lives may be put on the back burner," she said.

Speaking to the marchers at the start of the demonstration, New Japan Women's Association Chair Takada Kimiko said, "The prime minister doesn't listen to the people who are calling for the release of the three and an immediate withdrawal of the SDF and he's trying hard to continue to take the country to war."

Even after sunset, around 1,000 people remained in vigil near the Prime Minister's Official Residence across from the parliament shouting, "Press the United States to stop the attack on in Fallujah." (end)

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