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Nick Kapur has written a long-overdue book on the aftermath of the 1960 mass movement protesting the revision of the US–Japan Security Treaty (Anpo). His main thesis is formulated quite late in the book, namely that it is ‘far more accurate to speak of a “1960 system” in Japanese politics’ instead of the ‘1955 system’ (107, 269). Thus, for Kapur, the 1960 Anpo crisis must be understood as a revolutionary moment in Japanese history, in its socio-political meaning surpassing the unifications of the conservative and socialist parties, respectively, in 1955. Kapur divides the book into seven chapters. In the introduction, he explains the historical background, in this case, the Anpo protests of 1960, describing them as the ‘the largest and longest series of political protest in Japan’s history’ (1). Once the movement was defeated on 15 July 1960, the crisis and its aftershocks shaped a whole generation of activists, creating three modes of ‘reaction and response’: ‘conservative counterrevolution’, ‘traumatic schisms within [...] the movement’, and ‘revolutionary fervor of a younger generation’ (7). In a certain sense, Kapur claims, contemporary Japanese society—a ‘vibrantly creative and expressive society whose popular culture has found receptive audiences around the world, yet also [as a] deeply conservative and risk-averse nation where certain behaviors, forms of dissent, and topics of conversation remain off-limits’ (7–8)—was shaped during Anpo and its aftermath. The international relations between the United States and Japan under Anpo since 1960 are the focus of the first chapter. While under the Eisenhower administration, the attitude of US policy towards Japan had been rather condescending, as a result of Anpo, a change in policy occurred, triggered by Edwin O. Reischauer’s visit to Japan in October 1960 and his appointment as US ambassador by the Kennedy administration in 1961. Ikeda Hayato and John F. Kennedy saw the ‘anti-treaty protests as a significant crisis in US–Japan relations’ (47) that was to be fixed by ‘winning the hearts and minds’ (50) of the Japanese through gestures such as the visit of Bobby Kennedy in February 1962. While Ikeda promised Kennedy that Japanese business would stay out of China, Japan was given market access to the US, as well as the ‘British Treatment’ on the international stage. Thus, Ikeda could sell Japan’s improved international standing as a success to the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Kapur concludes the chapter convincingly by arguing that the goal had remained the same as in the Eisenhower era—winning the Cold War and gaining market access to the US—but the US now had learned that in its relations to Japan it was more effective to take a ‘low posture’ (73–74). Chapter 2 examines why the LDP did not fall apart but survived the Anpo crisis. According to Kapur, the LDP had to thank Ikeda for adopting ‘low posture’ politics towards the Diet and the opposition. As a result, ‘Ikeda’s pivot with regards to constitutional revision proved a brilliant maneuver that helped to pave the way for the decline of the Socialist Party’ (81), the latter losing her stance as the sole protector of the constitution. By reforming the LDP’s financial donations system and ‘brilliantly’ handling the Kōno faction, Ikeda averted the Party’s breakup. Still, ‘the most brilliant maneuver of his tenure’ was the Income Doubling Plan, which surprised the Socialists and put initiative back into the hands of the LDP. Tax cuts (with gender bias) added a new ‘economic incentive of women to engage in full-time housewifery’, while ‘rapid economic growth allowed more women to become full-time home-makers’ (105), Kapur remarks, presenting a photo of a woman cleaning a kitchen with a vacuum cleaner (106). Kapur’s excessive show of enthusiasm for Ikeda’s allegedly single-handed fix for the Anpo conundrum is not convincing—as is his understanding of how LDP and non-LDP agency, like the allegedly weak trade unions (Gerteis 2009), molded 1960s’ highly gendered society. Nevertheless, Kapur emphasizes that the Japan Socialist Party went ‘into gradual but ultimately terminal decline’ (108) immediately after Anpo. Thus, the secession by the Democratic Socialists under Nishio Suehiro weakened the Socialists but strengthened the Party’s Left wing, a radicalization that ultimately damaged the Japanese Left. Thus, Kapur is convinced that the ousting of the structural reformers under Eda Saburō created a missed opportunity for a ‘party that could [have won] over a large share of the electorate without sacrificing its core principles’ (126). In this context, it remains unclear, given Kapur’s interest in US involvement in Japan, why there is no mention of the funding of the DSP through CIA covert ops during the split. This shift to ‘extremism’ is also put forward as a key argument in chapter 4, focused on the ‘decline of labor militancy’ at Sōhyō, the ‘implosion of the student movement’, and the ‘retreat’ of the progressive intellectuals (kakushin interi) (134). Here, Kapur describes the politization of work-related activism in the trade federation Sōhyō. Central to the political shift was the ‘Ōta-Iwai-line’ of connecting political struggle with wage negotiations, which at first were successful, like in the Police Duties Bill Protest of 1958–1959. But during the 1960 Anpo crisis, the decision by Ōta to work with the Japan Communist Party (JCP) and not with the moderate federations Zenrō and Shinsanbetsu created a division within the Left. Changing course after Anpo, the 1964 Sōhyō decision to renounce the right to strike for public-sector unions weakened Sōhyō’s support, especially in the National Railway Union (Kokurō). Still, Kapur admits that after 1964 for a decade, Sōhyō was ‘not entirely through with labor militancy’ (144) until the botched strike by Kokurō (Strike for the Right to Strike) in 1975. Kapur also understates the extraordinary successes Sōhyō unions had in wage negotiations in the years after Anpo 1960 (Nakamura 1998: 366). In the case of the Japanese New Left, Kapur continues his line of argumentation about the essentially destructive force of radical politics. According to Kapur, the defeat of Anpo fragmented the New Left into a multitude of factions. At Japan’s universities, New Left students turned inward, reading the ‘homegrown philosophical ramblings of Yoshimoto Takaaki’ and engaged in ‘endless, almost masochistic, self-negation and self-criticism’ (151). Not even the unification of the three larger party factions overcame the discord of the New Left, as the violence of the Second Haneda Incident ‘created a vicious spiral of increasing violence and extremism [...] leading to further extremism and violence, leading eventually to the orgy of self-destruction at Japanese universities conducted under the banner of the nihilistic “All-Campus Joint-Struggle Councils” (Zenkyōtō) in 1968–1969, bloody battles [at Narita], and ultimately culminating in the most inward-looking extremists slaughtering themselves in the Asama Sansō incident […]’ (152). Unfortunately, this section suffers under the lack of attention Kapur has given to the academic literature about Japan’s ‘1968’, which paints a more differentiated picture than spirals of violence and nihilism (see, e.g. Ando 2014). The Zenkyōtō groups, New Left factions, high school students, and young workers of 1968/1969 protested against the Vietnam War, the conditions of contemporary higher education, and the treatment of Japan’s minorities under the threat of being fired, expelled, and arrested. In doing so, did they—in contrast to the 1960 Left who ‘defended democracy’—truly have ‘no objective beyond destroying […] the university, the nation-state, or their own persistent inner victimizer’ (153)? Turning to the arts in chapter 5, Kapur shows how the formerly politized ‘socialist realist’ paintings of Katsuragawa Hiroshi and Bitō Yutaka became ‘more surrealist than realist’ (189), as artists in the wake of Anpo rebelled against the establishment. This was the case for the JCP-dominated shingeki theatre groups as well, as young actors and playwrights were founding their own troupes and shaping underground (angora) theatre. In literature, the ‘collapse’ of literati-circles (bundan) and the rebellion of writers against the JCP pushed Japanese literature into a postmodernist mode, as ‘[…] the 1960 crisis played [a role] in striking a final and decisive blow to the faith in ideological absolutes [...]’ (217). Finally, in chapter 6, Kapur argues that the ‘conservative counterrevolution’ became most visible when the ‘landscape of expression’ was reshaped by ‘reactionary forces’ after Anpo, namely in the courts, through right-wing violence, the police, and mass media (218). Kapur makes the argument that certain rulings of the Supreme Court—in not declaring police ordinances against demonstrations unconstitutional—represented a reactionary turn. This line of argument might fall a little bit short, as the Supreme Court has handed down rulings of laws being unconstitutional in only ten cases in all its history. Still, he very insightfully shows how the police changed tactics to impede the constitutional right to demonstrate by ‘sandwiching’ groups, using traffic laws and noise protection ordinances to arrest participants. Dissenting media was curbed as well. While until then, young newspaper reporters were able to publish news and opinions critical of the government, after Anpo business groups and the Ikeda administration pressured the editorial boards to spread ‘the good news of moderation and support of the Ikeda administration’ (242). Another blow to free speech was, without doubt, the rise of right-wing groups, like Dai Nippon Aikokutō. The Asanuma assassination by one of the group’s members, and other attempts to murder public figures, created an atmosphere of fear. In 1961, the massive threats and deadly violence against Chūō Kōron during the ‘Shimanaka incident’ led to the public ‘total defeat’ (260) of the magazine’s defense of free speech. Thus, right-wing terror constricted ‘the bonds of acceptable expression’ (262). There are some grievances that must be addressed. This reviewer was surprised to find that Kapur’s book does not contain a bibliography. Harvard University Press replied to my inquiry by stating that it is ‘editorial policy’ not to include a bibliography when there are extensive endnotes. This is hardly practical for a 325-page research monograph that uses primarily textual materials. Furthermore, the book is missing a systematic introduction framing its approach and contribution within the previous research literature. Kapur might have clarified which ‘political scientists’ refer ‘often’ (107) to the ‘1955 system’ and what, in his view, the model does not explain. Also, he might have been more careful about the claim that right-wing ‘fixers’ funneled money to New Left groups at the time of the Anpo protests (26, 250). His proof is the autobiography of one such fixer and a book by conspiracy theorist Soejima Takahiko (2004), who also claims that the US did not land on the moon. Still, by showing that the Anpo movement created room for the consolidation of LDP power, that it changed international relations, that protests, in general, became ‘moderated’ by police agency, and that through the creation of an atmosphere of fear by right wing terrorism free speech was subdued, Kapur’s narrative of the 1960 Anpo crisis as a historical juncture is convincing. Do we thus have to revise the ‘1955 system’, as Kapur is proposing? According to John Dower (1993: 5), ‘for Japanese, “San Francisco System” and “1955 System” vividly symbolize the intense political conflicts [italics added] over issues of peace and democracy that characterized Japan’s emergence as a rich consumer society and powerful capitalist state’. In this sense, was Anpo 1960 the exemption or rather a culmination of the struggle for political hegemony between the Socialists and the LDP? Even if Anpo weakened the Old Left, as Kapur argues, did the struggle for political hegemony not continue far into the 1970s? Was Anpo 1960 even possible without the unification and rightist takeover of the Liberal Party and Japanese Democratic Party by Hatoyama and Kishi in 1955? With these questions in mind, Kapur has given us a provocative read that will revitalize debates concerning postwar Japanese history. References Ando , Takemasa . 2014 . Japan’s New Left Movements. Legacies for Civil Society . Routledge . 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Social Science Japan Journal – Oxford University Press
Published: Oct 20, 2020
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