Dissenting Japan: Out Now

After nearly five years of work, out it slipped: Dissenting Japan: A History of Japanese Radicalism and Counterculture, from 1945 to Fukushima went quietly on to release at the start of this month. Somewhat in contrast to the numerous episodes of Sturm und Drang it covers, the publication has so far been rather softly-softly. A talk is planned for mid-September at the FCCJ and some reviews should come in soon. Watch this space, as they say.

Originally scheduled for late 2015, the delay actually allowed for time to sneak in a few references to what happened that summer with SEALDs and co. These things being as they are, though, the book may very well need a second edition soon to bring it up to date! As it stands, the “narrative” essentially stops at around the 2013/14 mark (the book was written between 2011 and 2014 for the most part, with significant revisions in 2015).

dissenting japan history radical protest movements post-war tokyo student counterculture book

By some fortuitous timing of the gods, there are several related books either recently published or forthcoming for later in the year. The array of publications includes The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Protest Music After Fukushima by Noriko Manabe; Disasters and Social Crisis in Contemporary Japan: Political, Religious, and Sociocultural Responses, edited by Mark R. Mullins and Kōichi Nakano; Nationalism in Asia: A History Since 1945 edited by Jeff Kingston, and a book Kingston has written himself, Asian Nationalisms Reconsidered; Power in Contemporary Japan, edited by Gill Steel; The Sublime Perversion of Capital: Marxist Theory and the Politics of History in Modern Japan by Gavin Walker, about the influential work of Marxist economist Kōzō Uno; and two books about avant-garde art after 1945, Cultural Responses to Occupation in Japan: The Performing Body During and After the Cold War by Adam Broinowski and Radicalism in the Wilderness: International Contemporaneity and 1960s Art in Japan by Reiko Tomii.

As the current Abe administration continues to push for constitutional reforms and the situation in Okinawa escalates over the US military bases, the discourse about protest and dissent in Japan can only grow more vital.

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6 Responses to Dissenting Japan: Out Now

  1. bruknovi says:

    Hearty congratulations and thanks for your book William! Much appreciated for mentioning mine on your blog. Here’s a link: https://www.amazon.com/Cultural-Responses-Occupation-Japan-Performing/dp/178093596X.


  2. mivyblog says:

    Congratulations William! I can’t wait to read this important contribution. I’ll be telling my colleagues and students about it on social and asocial media! Best, Marilyn


    • @Marilyn,

      Apologies for the late response. Of course, the book is not, strictly speaking, a scholarly text but I hope that students and academics can extract plenty from it, and that it also becomes something of a launchpad for further books and research.


  3. Avery says:

    Congrats! I’m intrigued by your mention of right-wing personalities, does this mean you covered the Issuikai in this book?


    • @Avery

      It covers the far right, though this is a very large topic and I had to be selective. There is some commentary on the immediate post-war groups and individuals as well as major incidents (Asanuma assassination, Shimanaka incident, Mishima incident, etc). I also introduce the emergence of the New Right and Minzoku-ha, including Kunio Suzuki of Issui-kai, and touch briefly on the recent hate groups and wave of rightist protests against perceived territorial incursions by Japan’s neighbours (at the time I was writing, these were very much in the headlines and not yet “history” — time will tell how this is eventually interpreted).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sayoko Miki says:

    I am very, very interested in buying this book, but importing it to Brazil would likely be ridiculously more expensive than what I could pay. I don’t suppose there will be an online edition any time soon? I am very interested in understanding class struggle in Japan (I’m a member of a Trotskyist international and I’ve been assigned this task) in the last twenty years and frankly, you’re the one person I could find that says anything worthwhile about it in English; your biography of Hoshino Fumiaki, for instance, is awesome.


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