S. Korean activists rally, calling to ease peninsula military tensions

Li Jiayao
2023-07-24 14:42:57

Civic activists attend a peaceful rally, calling for peace on the Korean Peninsula, Seoul, South Korean, July 22, 2023. /Xinhua

South Korean civic activists on Saturday shouted for peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the world ahead of the 70th anniversary of the armistice agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

Peace activists marched hundreds of meters from the Seoul plaza to the Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul, demanding to ease tensions on the peninsula and settle the peninsula issue through dialogue.

The participants chanted slogans and held placards saying "Stop hostilities and go for peace now," "Let's open the door to dialogue by stopping combined South Korea-U.S. military exercises," and "Oppose South Korea-U.S.-Japan military cooperation."

The march was organized by the Korea Peace Appeal which is composed of hundreds of civic and religious groups in South Korea as well as tens of overseas anti-war groups.

Peace activists march from the Seoul plaza to the Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul, demanding to ease tensions on the peninsula, South Korea, July 22, 2023. /Xinhua

The peace association urged every party concerned to stop hostilities, saying it only brought about a vicious cycle of endless arms races and military threats, and unilateral sanctions and military pressure had led to a new level of military crisis in the peninsula. 

It noted that the South Korea-U.S. military exercises, which are an aggressive war game, should be stopped for the resumption of dialogue, emphasizing its stern opposition to the South Korea-U.S.-Japan military cooperation triggering a possible confrontation with other neighboring countries.

Separately, civic activists from South Korea and Japan held a joint press conference in central Seoul to call for peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.

By mentioning the facts that South Korea and the U.S. recently conducted the maximum scale of combined military drills by mobilizing nuclear-capable strategic bombers and nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and a U.S. strategic nuclear submarine docked earlier this week at South Korea's southeast port of Busan for the first time in over four decades, the activists said that these activities escalated the military crisis on the peninsula.

Another factor threatening peace in the region was Japan's stronger push for increased military power, such as a plan to raise the proportion of its defense budget to GDP from one to two percent, the activists noted.

They demanded South Korea should immediately withdraw its policy of integrating with the U.S. nuclear policy and Japan should stop its arms buildup to defend Article 9 of its constitution, the core of Japan's peace policy after World War II.

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