Episode 468 – To Eat Their Own

This week, we’re looking at the implosion of the Japanese New Left with a focus on the factional conflicts of the Zengakuren. How did a student youth movement end up divided into 20+ factions, the two largest of which engaged in a multi-decade war of assassination and street violence against each other? And how might that be connected to the general decline of Japan’s left-wing opposition more broadly?


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

Dowsey, Stewart, ed. Zengakuren: Japan’s Revolutionary Students

Shimbori, Michiya, et al. “Japanese Student Activism in the 1970s.” Higher Education 9, No 2 (Mar, 1980).

The official websites  of both the Chukakuha (bonus in English) and Kakumaruha


The current headquarters of the Zenshinsha in Tokyo’s Edogawa district.
A Kakumaruha rally from the last few years.
Chukaku-ha members in 1985. This particular image is from one of the many street battles around Narita airport the Chukaku-ha engaged in.
Helmets like this one were how faction members identified themselves in combat. This particular one is a Kakumaruha helmet.
A police photo of the aftermath of an uchigeba raid.
Honda Nobuyoshi, former Chukaku-ha leader whose assassination in 1975 made him probably the highest profile Chukaku-ha loss of the conflict.