Episode 465 – Rebels Without a Cause, Part 1

This week, we’re beginning a month on radical activism in the 1960s with a look at the student uprisings of 1968. Today is all about where those uprisings came from, how they’re related to the “two Zens” of the 1960s, and the specific example of the University of Tokyo, where a debate about student medical internships turned into a violent and bloody battle between leftist student groups.


Andrews, William. Dissenting Japan: A History of Japanese Radicalism and Counterculture from 1945 to Fukushima.

Eiji, Oguma. “Japan’s 1968: A Collective Reaction to Rapid Economic Growth in an Age of Turmoil.” The Asia-Pacific Journal 13, No 12 (March, 2015)

Kapur, Nick. Japan at the Crossroads: Conflict and Compromise after Anpo. 


Helmets like these were worn by students of all factions, often colored differently as a form of uniform. This particular one belonged to a Zenkyoto student, though I am unsure from which university.

Armed students occupying a building on the Tokyo University Hongo campus. Unfortunately, I can’t read the signs well enough to see which faction.
A color photo of Yasuda hall during the occupation. Given the number of red banners, I’d assume this is from late in the occupation after the Zengakuren had begun to take a more active role.
One of the odd stories I didn’t have time for: Mishima Yukio actually went to Tokyo University during the occupation to have what turned out to be a pretty respectful debate with the students! Here’s a photo from the discussion.
The “final battle” of Yasuda Hall.
Yasuda Hall in the aftermath of the battle to retake it from the students.


1 thought on “Episode 465 – Rebels Without a Cause, Part 1”

  1. I had seen in Japanese media a lot of mention of the turbulent 60s, one character even saying he “survived the 60s” and I had never understood what they were referring to. Now I see why. Graduating and getting a good job after all that WOULD be an achievement.

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