A number of Japanese celebrities – not normally known for voicing their opinions on political matters – have thrown their weight behind a campaign aimed at stopping the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe from allowing a top prosecutor to work on beyond his mandatory retirement age. Hiromu Kurokawa, head of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutor’s Office and an Abe ally, was supposed to retire on February 7 when he turned 63. But just days before, the government announced it had decided to extend his tenure. Abe says he has missed goal to amend Japan’s pacifist constitution Critics say Kurokawa is being primed to replace Japan ’s current prosecutor general who will step down in the summer, and that his delayed retirement is part of this plan. They also charge him with being far from independent of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party – Yukio Edano, leader of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said Kurokawa had “controlled the administration of the judiciary in compliance” with Abe’s administration. A parliamentary debate on revising the law to allow Kurokawa to remain in post began on Friday, attracting a surprising amount of interest from Japan’s artists, actors, comedians and other creative types. Arata Irua, an actor, model and fashion designer, took to Twitter to implore legislators not to “bend the law and politics any further” in the name of “self-protection”. “Please don’t destroy this country,” he said. Other celebrities to join the chorus of condemnation included fellow actors Tadanobu Asano and Sayaka Akimoto, manga artists Chika Umino and Kotobuki Shiriagari, and stand-up comedian Kayoko Okubo. Pandemic good for forcing ‘pretty girls’ into sex work, Japan comedian says Soon a hashtag that translates as “protest the prosecution office law amendment” was trending on Japanese Twitter, with more than 4.7 million associated posts and retweets by the end of Sunday, according to the Asahi newspaper. “I think we are seeing the start of a new social movement in Japan that is being led by these people in creative professions,” said Makoto Watanabe, a professor of communications at Hokkaido Bunkyo University who has signed an online petition on the issue. “It’s something that can be traced back to March 2011 and the earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan ,” he said. “At that time, artists, writers, musicians and comedians went to the areas that had been affected and did what they could to help the local people. And then they realised that they could have a bigger voice and a role in our society.” They were further encouraged by the political, economic and social activism of foreign celebrities such as U2 singer Bono and actor Leonardo Di Caprio, Watanabe said. “And now we have another crisis, the coronavirus, and I think that so many people are tired of these terrible events when the government has not done everything it should have done for the people,” he said. “So these artists have now realised that they have an important role as influencers, and that’s key because right now the mainstream media has gone very quiet. At a time of crisis in Japan, the feeling is that we should not criticise the government and that we must all cooperate to get through it.” Many people think that if we continue down this road then Japan is doomed Makoto Watanabe, communications professor That attitude is something of a throwback to Japan’s pre-war military dictatorships, he said, when nobody was able to question the actions of the government. “And even though the Kurokawa case has nothing to do with the coronavirus, these artists are appealing to the rest of society for us not to simply let this happen,” Watanabe said. “I think that artists are gradually changing our society. There have been so many crises, so many political scandals that many people think that if we continue down this road then Japan is doomed. This issue is serving as a trigger that has enabled a lot of people to reassess our political and social situations. And many people believe this is a broader crisis and they want change.” Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.