2016年7月25日 星期一

Organizing the Spontaneous: Citizen Protest in Postwar Japan

Recently I have read the following book. The main points in chapters four to five are:

Book title: Sasaki-Uemura, Wesley. 2001. Organizing the Spontaneous: Citizen Protest in Postwar Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Main points:

Ch. 4. - in the process of re-constructing Japan, labor was a major focus for the Occupation in the establishment of the opposition party. SCAP hoped that a vibrant labor movement would be a counterweight to the power of the industrial conglomerates which was said to be a contributor to Japanese fascism. (81)

-the leadership of both the JCP and the JSP wanted to strengthen the labor movement to bring about a bourgeois democratic revolution that they hoped would set the stage for the eventual social revolution. (82)

-the Poet of Oi Factory was a small poetry circle that Inaba Yopshikazu and Nakamura Kiyoshi helped start in 1954. The two were workers at the Japan national railway. (84)

-SCAP also encouraged and actively supported the formation of the General council for trade union, in short called the Sohyo. (86). Its founding was also driven by a younger generation of activists who wanted to replace the old guard union leaders. (86)

- it was in the context of management’s attempt to displace worker culture with managerial control that the workplace culture circles blossomed in the mid to late 1950s. (88)

-while he was at Hamamatsu, Nakamura organized a poetry circle called the ‘Flock’ and when he was transferred to Oi, he and Inaba and other formed the Poets of Oi. At Oi as in other workplaces across the country a wide variety of circles had begun to pop up. (89)

-the Poets of Oi was typical of many other circles as people formed groups on their own rather than under the guidance of the Japan communist party organizers. (90) The culture movement for the Poet of Oi was part and parcel of members’ working lives. They did not consider the circle as a separate leisure-time activity. (91)

- while the workplace culture circles were the male domain and industrial labor basically died out in the 1960s and 1970s, other circles in different sectors continued to be viable. Women’s circles and citizen movement grew stronger and more significant in comparison to the labor movement. (111)

-Ch. 5.the popular catch phrase of the early postwar period that ‘woman and nylons had gotten stronger’ was in part a rueful male observation that women and become core vocal and assertive. (112) There were two major areas of concern which women organized beyond their own status: education and nuclear disarmament. (113)

-the implementation of a universal adult suffrage under Article 15 of Japan’s new constitution in 1946 widened the imagined postwar community and legitimated women’s participatory demand. Article 24 further declared that marriage was to be based on the consent of both individuals. (113)

- the starting point of women’s postwar social movement was their experience during the War years. For countless women, wartime had produced an acute mismatch between their affective posture and their ideological role. They were torn by the conflict between their duty as “good wives, wise mothers”, and their sorrow at having to sacrifice their husbands and sons. (115) The trend of forming writing circles to record women’s’ experience of the War was thus a significant aspect to the general life history in which ordinary people made record of their love ones. (115)

- the Housewives alliance was founded in 1948 by Oku Mumeo, who believed that housewives needed their own organization to exert direct pressure on the government to alleviate the problems they faced: a lack of goods in an inflationary, black market economy. (117)

- the postwar economic recovery that fostered the massive migration to urban areas created the burgeoning consumer ethic that developed in the late 1950s. This ethic was related in the catch phrase ‘three sacred treasures’. They could see, but not yet reach the ‘bright life’ that would have been unimaginable just a decade earlier. (125)

- consumerism was not limited to electrical product. Mass education played a role in the selling of urban intellectual culture, items included such as inexpensive pocketbook series of intellectual text and translation. (126). The general interest of the monthly magazines gave intellectual a major forum for presenting theirs ideas, thus there was the formation of the Children of the Cedars as a reading group. A group called Grass Seeds was formed again this backdrop of urbanization, development of a consumer society, wariness about the government’s political retrenchment, and women’s involvement in the movement. (126)

- the Grass Seeds was developed from a column that appeared in the “Home life” section of the Asahi Shinbun. It was used to show the trend toward the liberation of housewives. (127). Starting as a column aimed at women, it had the title ‘Hitotoki’. It became the first newspaper column in Japan to devote to readers’ contributions. It was a shift: newspapers often casted themselves as the voice the people. They hesitated to let the people speak for themselves. (127) “Hitotoki” by 1952 became so popular that its readership was said to far outstrip that of the newspaper’s editorials. (128)

- the voice heard in the Hototoki was selective because of the limit space. In 1955, readers in wards throughout Tokyo began to organize themselves into six different groups and hold meetings. These groups held their first general assembly and started their own magazine called the Grass Seeds. They then issued a general call in Hitotoki for others to join them. (130) Grass Seeds were not the only group to develop out of the column. (130)

- although the structure of Grass Seeds was attributable partly to the press, they started their own small-scale magazine to facilitate greater freedom in expression and autonomy than the mass media could provide. (131).

-the Grass Seeds saw their group as part of the same current of women’s group including the Women’s Democratic Club, the Association to Protect Children etc. (132) At the time of their first general assembly, the Grass Seeds had roughly one thousand members, but in keeping with the communal gossip session model, the group did not create a central executive committee. (132) The group did not form around a particular ideology nor gave a response to a specific political issue. (133) The Grass Seeds had been ambivalent about engaging in political activities, but its position began to change in 1958 with the crisis centered on the new teacher evaluation system and the Police Duties Bill. (135)

- they also undertook a major project to record their wartime experience and pass them on to the younger generation in reacting to the Police bill.(136)  They pushed toward political activism within the group that reached a peak during the 1960 protest against Anpo. The Anpo issue had increasing come into the public eye during 1959 through the united actions of the People’s Council to Stop the Revised Security Treaty and through discussion in the media. (136)

- the forcible ratification of the Treaty on May 19 dramatically altered the circumstance for the Grass Seeds; they saw PM Kishi’s action as a fundamental attack on democracy. (137) They were shocked and upset to read the joined declaration of the seven newspapers that condemned the protests. (137)

-feminist movement had been perhaps the most important channel for the second generation of postwar women’s activism. Feminism began to take off in the late 1960s. (144)

(to be continued)