In spring of 1960, Japan's government passed Anpo, a revision of the postwar treaty that allows the United States to maintain a military presence in Japan. This move triggered the largest popular backlash in the nation's modern history. These protests, Nick Kapur argues in Japan at the Crossroads, changed the evolution of Japan's politics and culture, along with its global role.
The yearlong protests of 1960 reached a climax in June, when thousands of activists stormed Japan's National Legislature, precipitating a battle with police and yakuza thugs. Hundreds were injured and a young woman was killed. With the nation's cohesion at stake, the Japanese government acted quickly to quell tensions and limit the recurrence of violent demonstrations. A visit by President Eisenhower was canceled and the Japanese prime minister resigned. But the rupture had long-lasting consequences that went far beyond politics and diplomacy. Kapur traces the currents of reaction and revolution that propelled Japanese democracy, labor relations, social movements, the arts, and literature in complex, often contradictory directions. His analysis helps resolve Japan's essential paradox as a nation that is both innovative and regressive, flexible and resistant, wildly imaginative yet simultaneously wedded to tradition.
As Kapur makes clear, the rest of the world cannot understand contemporary Japan and the distinct impression it has made on global politics, economics, and culture without appreciating the critical role of the "revolutionless" revolution of 1960-turbulent events that released long-buried liberal tensions while bolstering Japan's conservative status quo.
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Nick Kapur is Assistant Professor of History at Rutgers University-Camden.
Broad in scope and fine-grained in analysis, Kapur's incisive study of public protest and political realignment shows that Japan stands shoulder to shoulder with Europe, the Americas, and the People's Republic of China as a site of cultural upheaval and political division during the global 1960s. This imaginatively conceptualized, gracefully written book offers a thoroughgoing reconsideration of conflict and compromise during that tumultuous decade in Japan.--Tom Havens, Northeastern University Kapur fixes a hole in our understanding of what happened in the wake of the 1960 US-Japan Security Treaty crisis by showing how the grand coalitions of the late 1950s were remade into smaller, more stratified social movements. This book will be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the conservative interregnum that demarcated the Security Treaty protests of 1960 and the Vietnam War protests of 1968.--Christopher Gerteis, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London Kapur productively surveys Japan in 1960, showing how the anti-Security Treaty protests catalyzed enormous social ferment. The 'Anpo' moment shook Japan's political and cultural institutions to their foundations but failed to achieve the political transformation so many people deeply desired, creating a sense of unfinished business that continues to this day.--Laura Hein, Northwestern University
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