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The ‘timid’ teen taking on Japan’s establishment

Mao Takatsuka
Mao Takatsuka (Hokkaido Shimbun)

SAPPORO (TR) – Japanese are taking to the streets to demonstrate more and more. As well as anti-nuclear protests there is the movement to Smash Valentine’s Day. And now, in the city of Sapporo in Hokkaido, comes the one-woman anti-war demonstration taking place on Friday.

Mao Takatsuka is, like most 19-year-olds, much more interested in fashion and music than she is in politics. She is what the Japanese call a “freeter,” a drifter outside of the full-time employment system. But as the Hokkaido Shimbun (June 23) reports, she is also against reforms to Japan’s security legislation now being pushed through parliament by the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“War is scary,” Takatsuka told the newspaper. “I hate it. It’s unforgivable. It’s nauseating. Young people are completely opposed to war and I want to make sure that our voice is heard.”

Takatsuka (@No_War_Furueru) placed details of the protest, which begins in Sapporo’s Odori Park at 5:30 p.m., on Facebook. The protest’s name roughly translates as “I don’t want to go to war so much it makes me shiver.”

“I’m more timid than most people, so that makes war especially scary for me,” Takatsuka says.

With a blind father who has since childhood only ever known his daughter’s face by touch, Takatsuka has been inspired to try and touch people through her work. Earlier this year, she went to the Philippines and volunteered at a children’s home.

“Many of my friends are unconcerned about the changes to security legislation,” Takatsuka says. “I want to show them I oppose the changes. This is our future and it is our problem.”