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From the Open-Publishing Newswire
THOUSANDS IN JAPAN MARCH AGAINST WAR
OSAKA, JAPAN -- Thousands of teachers, students, laborers and other concerned citizens here marked the one-year anniversary of the US/UK invasion of Iraq on Saturday, March 20, by taking to the streets in protest against the continued US occupation and the recent dispatch of Japan's Self-Defense Forces to Iraq.
Organizers estimated that 10,000 people turned out under rainy skies to join the mass protest, which was one of two big demonstrations in Osaka that day -- and just one of many such events held all over Japan. One placard at the Osaka rally takes a swipe at both Bush and BSE, reading in Japanese: "Bush - Senso (War) - Enough!"
One protester at the rally carried placards blasting "Bush the Vampire" and "Bush the Despot," with a photo of an Iraqi girl in the middle.
After a series of impassioned speeches at the rally, protesters began marching, forming three different courses through the metropolitan streets of Osaka. The protest was reportedly the biggest of its kind in this city either before or since the US invasion of Iraq. The recent dispatch of Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to Iraq and upcoming parliamentary elections in Japan are believed to be two of the factors for the large turnout Saturday.
Members of a teachers' union carry a sheet covered with messages of protest against the US and Japanese military presence in Iraq. The central slogan reads: "Withdraw the SDF from Iraq." Teachers unions were generally well-represented at the march Saturday, along with labor unions and others who demanded that Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution (which bans Japan from even having a military or dispatching it overseas) be strongly protected.
Three jubilant members of a teachers' union display their own compilation of messages against war and for peace.
A police officer directs protesters through downtown Osaka streets amid afternoon traffic. Police at the mass march appeared to be well-behaved, and no incidences of police harassment against demonstrators were reported at press time.
An association of Korean-Japanese women in Japan carry a peace banner at the march.
Marchers file along one traffic lane of downtown Osaka streets.
A union of teachers bearing yellow, as they make their way along the march. Some other teachers' unions carried banners reading (in Japanese): "Don't send the kids we teach off to war!"
Yet another teachers' union carries a banner in solidarity with worldwide demonstrations Saturday, as this stream of the Osaka marches comes to an end.
Fists were raised in solidarity as the demonstrators vowed to keep on fighting in the future.
A group of preschool children, along with parents and daycare providers, send their own message to the world. The group came from Nishinari Ward, Osaka, a district of the city with an especially large number of day laborers and homeless persons.
The attention of one of the children is caught momentarily by a soft-drink dispenser, while the message on his back summarizes the sentiment of the day's events: "Keep Life Precious."