Seno'o Giro later in his life.

Episode 182 – Building Better Worlds

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A roughly contemporary portrait of Nichiren late in life. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
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Tanaka Chigaku, head of the Kokuchukai (Pillar of the Nation Society). Tanaka is the intellectual godfather of Nichirenism: Nichiren Buddhism wedded to Japanese ultranationalism.
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The modern headquarters of the Kokuchukai.
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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.

Sources

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.

Images

 

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."

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.

Sources

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. 

Images

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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.”
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The Asama Mountain Villa surrounded by police during the siege.
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Shigenobu Fusako, right, with Okamoto Kozo during their time as Japanese Red Army militants.
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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.
This Pulitzer Prize-winning photo shows Asanuma Inejiro's assassination, which took place during preparations for a telecast debate for the Lower House.

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.

Sources

Kohno, Masaru. Japan’s Postwar Political Parties.

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

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

 

Images

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A visual representation of the electoral dominance of the LDP. This graph shows seats taken in the 1960 general election.
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The Matsukawa derailment.
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The Mitaka derailment.
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This Pulitzer Prize-winning photo shows Asanuma Inejiro’s assassination, which took place during preparations for a telecast debate for the Lower House.
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Shimoyama Sadanobu’s body being removed from the scene of his death.
Japanese communists are released from prison by the US, c. 1945.

Episode 179 – Red Star Over Tokyo, Part 4

This week, the floodgates are open! The system has fallen, and the left is poised to seize power…or not!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Dower, John. Embracing Defeat.

Crump, John. The Origins of Socialist Thought in Japan.

Price, John. Japan Works: Power and Paradox in Postwar Industrial Relations

Images

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Citizens of Tokyo watching as electoral returns are posted on billboards in the city in 1947.
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Nosaka Sanzo speaking at a rally, c. 1946. The end of World War II signaled a revival of the Communist Party, as its leadership came over from China and the USSR to revive the party at home.
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Japanese communists are released from prison by the US, c. 1945.
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Katayama Tetsu, Japan’s first socialist PM, at right. At left is Abe Isoo, Japan’s foremost Christian socialist and a mentor to Katayama.

Episode 178 – Red Star Over Tokyo, Part 3

Today, a specter is haunting Japan. But that specter is not communism; it’s the ghost of the communist party, dead before it truly lived. This week on the podcast: how to kill a communist party in a few easy steps.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Gordon, Andrew. Labor and Imperial Democracy in Prewar Japan.

Beckmann, George M and Genji Okubo. The Japanese Communist Party, 1922-1945.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan

Images

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Hayashi Fusao, one of the most high profile cultural figures to commit tenko and convert himself to the cause of Japanese ultranationalism.
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Yosano Akiko became the darling of the Japanese left during the Russo-Japanese War, but jumped ship to the cause of the empire during the 1930s.
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The leadership of the JCP in exile in the Soviet Union. From left to right: Tokuda Kyuichi, Nosaka Sanzo, and Shiga Yoshio.
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During World War II, Nosaka allied himself to the Chinese Communist Party. Here Nosaka, in the center, attends the beginning of the 7th Party Congress with Mao Zedong (at right).
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Nosaka in his military uniform as leader of a unit of “converted” Japanese POWs.

Episode 177 – Red Star Over Tokyo, Part 2

The revolution comes to Japan…but not really. Today we explore the birth and very rapid death of Japan’s first socialist party, and the rise of its communist movement.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Gordon, Andrew. Labor and Imperial Democracy In Prewar Japan.

Beckman, George M and Genji Okubo. The Japanese Communist Party, 1920-1945.

Images

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Katayama Sen, one of Japan’s first real Marxist advocates. He would die in the Soviet Union in the 1930s after two decades of exile.
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Christian Socialist Suzuki Bunji speaking to crowds in 1917. Though the Japan Socialist Party was not long for this world –at least at first — socialist parties continued to operate until all parties were dissolved in 1940.
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Another rally led by Suzuki Bunji.
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Nosaka Sanzo, one of the founding members of the Japan Communist Party.

Episode 176 – Red Star Over Tokyo, Part 1

Today, we’ll turn our attention to a set of ideas that will ultimately fall flat on their face in Japan (and most other places): Marxism. How did the hard left come to Japan? And before that, what even is Marxism?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

I relied heavily on the excellent Political, Economic, and Social Thought to put together this brief summary.

Contextual information was taken from Hunt, Tristam. Marx’s General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels.

Images

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Statues of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels dot all parts of the former Soviet bloc. This one is in Berlin, Germany.
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Marx’s historical dialectic in action.
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The Marxist stages of history.
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Popular demonstrations, like the Match Girl’s March on Parliament in 1888 depicted above, became increasingly common in the late 19th century. Many of these protests had Marxists among their organizers and/or participants, creating a fear of growing Marxist influence in the West.