Withdraw troops from Iraq: March 20 Action

"The U.S. must stop occupying Iraq! All foreign forces must withdraw from Iraq!"--chanted peace activists joined by many citizens in demonstration marches and various peace actions in major cities in Japan on March 20, marking the second anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

In Tokyo, about 6,000 people gathered at the Hibiya Amphitheater Hall and marched in demonstration through the Ginza.

The rally was sponsored by an organizing committee made up of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), religious groups, the Ground, Air and Port-related Unions Navigation Safety Council consisting of 20 organizations, and others.

Speakers included Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo, Social Democratic Party representative Hosaka Nobuto, an Iraqi citizen resident in Japan, and a former Japanese ambassador to Lebanon.

Shii demanded that the U.S. withdraw its troops from Iraq within a set time, and pointed out that the Self-Defense Forces units have no reason to stay in Iraq now that their "humanitarian and reconstruction" assistance through helping supply water has already ended in Samawah.

"By continuing to deploy the SDF, Japan is only trying to show its loyalty to the U.S. All SDF soldiers must return home to their families," Shii added.

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In Osaka, in a demonstration of their wish to defend the Constitution's Article 9, about 8,000 people lined up to form "Peace 9" in Kanji (Chinese characters). Similar "human letters" of "Article 9" appeared in Nagoya City in Aichi Prefecture (on March 19).

In Kyoto, more than 700 strollers on the riverbed of River Kamo wrote responses on colored paper to the question, "What's the most important thing you don't want to be robbed of in the event of a war?"

About 2,000 young people held an anti-war event entitled, "Peace Festa 2005 in Hyogo." Participants performed street dances, played guitars and drums, asking passers-by to write their wishes of "No to the Iraq war" on colored paper. (end)

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