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The japanese student movement, 1968-1970: the zenkyoto uprising

Click to view the dissertation via Digital dissertation consortium
Author Yasko, Guy Thomas.
ISBN/ISSN 0591649985
Broad Subject History
Summary This dissertation examines the political and intellectual significance of the Japanese student movement of 1968-70. Often called Zenkyoto, after the dominant form of campus organization during the uprising, the movement was a formative experience for a generation. Along with the 1960 Ampo Protests, it was also one of the largest and most energetic of postwar oppositional movements.

I introduce Zenkyoto with a discussion of Tokoro Mitsuko and the January 1969 battle for Yasuda Tower. Drawing from her protest experiences, her background in science, and readings in feminism and political theory, Tokoro outlined much of what would become the organizational theory and intellectual content of the Zenkyoto movement.

In the next three chapters, I evaluate Zenkyoto's relation to its political environments. The second chapter sets the Zenkyoto movement within the context of the Ampo protests of 1960 and the New Left. I argue that Zenkyoto readings of Yoshimoto Taka'aki provided the foundation for the key ideas of self-criticism and denial of the self.The next chapter discusses Zenkyoto's rejection of progressivist democratization in favor of more autonomous social organization. Zenkyoto distrust of democratization, liberals, and the left-wing parties brought the movement close to New Right positions. Here I argue that Zenkyoto's culturalist and nationalist elements could not differentiate the movement from a post-modernist New Right.

The fifth and sixth chapters examine some of the movement's form and content. In the fifth chapter, I discuss Zenkyoto's emphasis on political struggle as a means of overcoming modern science. Zenkyoto activists maintained that it was possible to eliminate alienation through political practice. Turning to the problem of Zenkyoto organization in the next chapter, I find that Zenkyoto's organization proved effective in mobilizing groups and individuals that neither the Old Left nor the vanguardist New Left could reach. However, Zenkyoto's organizational shortcomings coupled with a revaluation of violence lead some to choose terrorism and neo-Leninism.

Finally, an epilogue takes up Zenkyoto as an historical object. I argue that current interpretations of Zenkyoto depoliticize and abstract the movement.

Language English
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