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Celebrations, protests on National Foundation Day

Japan

People across Japan held events and rallies on Thursday to support or oppose a national holiday honoring the country's founding.

February 11th is Japan's National Foundation Day. Before the end of World War Two, it was celebrated as the day the legendary first emperor ascended the throne. Critics say the holiday was used before the war to promote nationalism and militarism.

Shinto shrines and other groups held an event in central Tokyo to celebrate the day. About 1,200 people attended.

Kokugakuin University Professor Emeritus Yasuo Ohara told the gathering that people around the globe celebrate their national foundation days.
Ohara said Japan, too, should hold a government-sponsored commemoration ceremony as soon as possible to nurture a love for the country.

The participants adopted a statement that the Ise-Shima G-7 summit in May will be a good opportunity to let Japan's spirit be known to the world. They pledged greater efforts to build a nation they can be proud of.

Meanwhile, about 350 historians and teachers held a rally in Tokyo to oppose the commemoration.

Chiba University Professor Yoshiko Kurita said young people with no experience of war have stood up to oppose new security laws that allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. She stressed that it is important to be aware that now is the time for all-out efforts to protect the pacifist Constitution.

Participants approved a statement calling for efforts to build a future based on constitutionalism and democracy.

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