Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Month: February 2017

Episode 182 – Building Better Worlds


A roughly contemporary portrait of Nichiren late in life. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.


Tanaka Chigaku, head of the Kokuchukai (Pillar of the Nation Society). Tanaka is the intellectual godfather of Nichirenism: Nichiren Buddhism wedded to Japanese ultranationalism.


The modern headquarters of the Kokuchukai.


Seno’o Giro later in his life.

This week, we’re doing a biography of the little known Buddhist socialist Seno’o Giro. How do you reconcile Buddhism and Marx? Find out this week!

Listen to the episode here.


Iguchi, Gerold Scott. Nichirenism as Modernism: Imperialism, Fascism, and Buddhism in Modern Japan.

Shields, James Mark. “Blueprint for Buddhist Revolution The Radical Buddhism of Seno’o Girō (1889–1961) and the Youth League for Revitalizing Buddhism”. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 39, No. 2.

Lai, Whalen. “Seno’o Giro and the Dilemma of Modern Buddhism”. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 11, No. 1.



Episode 181 – Red Star Over Tokyo, Part 6

This week, we round out our look at the hard left in Japan. Militant communist uprisings (if less than 100 people counts as an uprising), electoral maneuvering, recycling policy — this episode has it all.

Listen to the episode here.


Gallagher, Aileen. The Japanese Red Army.

Er, Lam Peng. “The Japanese Communist Party: Organization and Resilience in the Midst of Adversity.” Pacific Affairs 69, No. 3.

Hyde, Sarah. The Transformation of the Japanese Left. 



A Japan Communist Party poster from last year. The center poster says “Stop TPP. The Party that Loves this Country: The Japan Communist Party.” The one on the left says, “Rely on the constitution, change the government.”


The Asama Mountain Villa surrounded by police during the siege.


Shigenobu Fusako, right, with Okamoto Kozo during their time as Japanese Red Army militants.


In 2007, the story of the United Red Army was made into a well-reviewed film. Haven’t had a chance to see it yet, though.

Former Japanese PM Murayama poses in front of portraits of former leaders of his Social Democratic Party after an interview with Reuters at the party headquarters in Tokyo

Murayama Tomiichi, former Prime Minister and recycling guru.

Episode 180 – Red Star Over Tokyo, Part 5

This week, we’ll see how the advent of the Liberal Democratic Party kept Japan’s socialist and communist parties from real power during the postwar era. How did we get from a revolutionary moment to permanent political sidelining for the Japanese left?

Listen to the episode here.


Kohno, Masaru. Japan’s Postwar Political Parties.

Lu, David. Japan: A Documentary History, Vol 2.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.




A visual representation of the electoral dominance of the LDP. This graph shows seats taken in the 1960 general election.


The Matsukawa derailment.


The Mitaka derailment.


This Pulitzer Prize-winning photo shows Asanuma Inejiro’s assassination, which took place during preparations for a telecast debate for the Lower House.


Shimoyama Sadanobu’s body being removed from the scene of his death.

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