Social Movement in Japan

by Natsuki Oshiro

I’ll write about social movement in Japan. Social movement is the collective action that a lot of people do in order to realize the settlement of any social problems. The meaning of that is various. At one time, labor movement or socialism movement are typical social movements. But now, various movements are acted like environmental movement, an antiwar movement, peace movement, the movement of women or minority, consumer movement and so on. The purpose and its sense of values of modern social movements became diversification. In addition, the means used by social movements, is varied, ranging from marches, rallies, signature activities, media campaigns, boycotts, the violent use of force. Against the background of globalization, cross-border transnational social movements go on increasing.

In such a lot of social movements, I’ll write about campaigns against the Japan‐U.S. Security Treaty (in Japanese, anpo-tousou). This campaigns were acted twice from 1959 from 1960, and 1970.

This was the largest political struggle in Japanese history, workers and students and citizens opposed to the US-Japan Security Treaty. And it also had violent aspect of insurgency and conflict with Molotov cocktails and iron pipe. Momentum of the movement reached its climax in May and June 1960. Administrative Agreement and the Japan-US Security Treaty was signed in September 1951, which was decided to indefinitely stationed in Japan and the Japanese defense of the U.S. military. The cabinet of Kishi Nobusuke tried to revise this unilateral treaty to reciprocal treaty, and from June 1958, the negotiation was started between Japan and USA. And they agreed to a course of conclusion of new treaty. From October, official negotiation was started, but because of large movement to revision of Security Treaty and the cautiousness in the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP), the negotiation did not go smoothly.

At last New Japan-US security treaty was signed in January 1960. Against it, large opposing movement was occurred by the opposition party and Japanese people. They criticize that this treaty was actual military alliance, and especially the Far East article was to involve Japan to war in Asia. This was campaigns against the Japan‐U.S. Security Treaty. It was organized by the stop security treaty nation diet (in Japanese Anpo Soshi Kokumin Gikai), and 60 millions of participants and 25 millions of signers participated in this movement. It became the largest social movement after WW1 in Japan. In May 1965, against the opposing movement, the government and the LDP appealed emergency means like that introduction of the police force, eliminating the members who opposes, the extreme measures of a single vote. And they pushed ahead to pass to the session extension and the new treaty. Opposing movement got more intense, and the function of parliamentary government was stopped by the siege of parliament by the demo day and night.

Going through many incidents, like that Michiko Kaba crush to death incident in June 15, cancellation of Eisenhower’s visit to Japan in June 16, finally New Japan-US security treaty was approved in Diet in June 19. In June 23, it went into effect by ratification exchange, and in same day, Kishi Nobusuke expressed resignation.


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