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This introductory essay contextualizes the articles that comprise the special issue by focusing on a historical period known as the ”Japanese long 1968” or the “season of politics” (roughly 1966 to 1972), in order to address the trends in the period’s cinematic production as a social and political expression of its time. The prevailing socio-political unrest – from the massive student occupation of university campuses, to the campaign against Japan-US alliance within the framework of the Vietnam War, to the struggle against the construction of the Narita International Airport – had a considerable impact on the way some Japanese filmmakers conceived cinema. Beginning with a review of those events, the article demonstrates how analyzing the impact of the Japanese long 1968 on cinema, and how filmmakers intervened in that phenomenon, enables us to reach not only a better comprehension of the films in question, but also of the way they reflect and interact with the historical moment in which they were produced.
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The Sixties
A Journal of History, Politics and Culture
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Japan’s long 1968 cinema: resistance, struggle,
Blai Guarné & Ferran de Vargas
To cite this article: Blai Guarné & Ferran de Vargas (2021) Japan’s long 1968 cinema: resistance,
struggle, revolt, The Sixties, 14:2, 121-132, DOI: 10.1080/17541328.2021.1997182
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Japan’s long 1968 cinema: resistance, struggle, revolt
Blai Guarné and Ferran de Vargas
Departament de Traducció i d’Interpretació i d’Estudis de l’Àsia Oriental, Universitat Autònoma de
Barcelona (UAB), Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
This introductory essay contextualizes the articles that com-
prise the special issue by focusing on a historical period
known as the ”Japanese long 1968” or the “season of politics”
(roughly 1966 to 1972), in order to address the trends in the
period’s cinematic production as a social and political expres-
sion of its time. The prevailing socio-political unrest – from
the massive student occupation of university campuses, to
the campaign against Japan-US alliance within the frame-
work of the Vietnam War, to the struggle against the con-
struction of the Narita International Airport had
a considerable impact on the way some Japanese lmmakers
conceived cinema. Beginning with a review of those events,
the article demonstrates how analyzing the impact of the
Japanese long 1968 on cinema, and how lmmakers inter-
vened in that phenomenon, enables us to reach not only
a better comprehension of the lms in question, but also of
the way they reect and interact with the historical moment
in which they were produced.
1968; Art Theater Guild;
Japanese cinema; New Left;
Shinsuke Ogawa; Nagisa
Oshima; psychedelia; Shūji
This special issue
is the result of a research workshop organized in
February 2019 under the title The Cultural Impact of the Japanese ’68 by
the GREGAL research group at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
(Autonomous University of Barcelona). The workshop commemorated fifty
years since riot police evicted students from campus buildings of the
University of Tokyo on January 18 and 19, 1969, following months of
occupation. The starting point of the workshop was an invitation to explore
how the “Japanese long 1968,” as a historical phenomenon, shaped the
world of culture through one of its most significant fields: cinema. By
analyzing the impact of the Japanese long 1968 on cinema, as well as
filmmakers’ intervention in that historical moment, our aim was to gain
a better understanding not only of the films in question but also how they
interacted with the social and political context in which they were produced.
The presentations and discussions that arose at that forum have crystallized
CONTACT Blai Guarné Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Facultat de
Traducció i Interpretació, Pl. del Coneixement, K1025, Campus Bellaterra Barcelona, Catalonia 08193 Cerdanyola
del Vallès Spain
2021, VOL. 14, NO. 2, 121–132
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
into this collection of articles. It brings together some of the scholarly
contributions presented there, along with others that have been added
especially for this publication in The Sixties.
Following Robert Stam’s approach, what is retrospectively known as the
”long 1968” was a period of revolts that took place, broadly speaking,
between 1966 and 1972 all around the world.
They had a common denomi-
nator that cut across different national contexts: the resurgence of the idea of
revolution and flourishing radical left-wing political movements that acted
independently of – and oftentimes in direct opposition to – the Soviet
Union’s self-named “real socialism model.”
This worldwide historical phe-
nomenon had multiple national ramifications, each with its own particula-
rities, the Japanese case, especially considering its impact, receiving
comparatively little attention in global surveys of the era’s revolts.
Japan, this period is also known as the “season of politics” (seiji no
and was mainly defined by the central role of the student move-
ment, anti-Vietnam War protests, and the Sanrizuka Struggle against the
construction of the Narita International Airport near Tokyo.
Protest was so fierce that the Japanese university system was almost
completely paralyzed between 1968 and 1969. Donald F. Wheeler even
claims that the Japanese student movement in those years was likely larger
and more intense than any other student movement at the time.
There was
a popular television joke going then about a conversation between two
foreigners visiting Japan; the first asks “What is the Japanese word for
‘desk’?,” and the other replies “Barikedo,” which means “barricade.”
fact, Kazuo Ikeda states that the Japanese student movement started much
earlier (emerging as early as 1947 in reaction to the conservative reforms of
the last years of US occupation and its “reverse course” policy
), and it
received less external influence than most student movements in other
developed countries.
That is why in 1968 the US ambassador in Japan,
Alexis Johnson, pointed out that the Japanese riot police’s tactics for hand-
ling student demonstrations could become a model to emulate for police
forces around the world.
Gavin Walker regards Japan’s case as ”the longest '68 on earth,” describ-
ing it as a period that spanned nearly thirteen years from 1960 to 1973.
Despite the suggestive nature of Walker’s phrasing, it would be more
accurate to refer to this period as Patricia G. Steinhoff does. She calls it
the “long 1960s,” placing its beginning in 1958 – with the foundation of the
Communist League or Bund and its end in 1972, with the dissolution of
the militant organization the United Red Army (Rengo Sekigun).
Steinhoff’s designation captures the scope of a decade of social unrest
marked by intense protests led by workers’ unions, left-wing political
parties, and women’s organizations that opposed the revision of the Anpo
(the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the US and
in its early stages, something that even forced the cancellation for
security reasons of President Eisenhower’s planned visit to Japan in 1960. In
this climate of protest, the demands for higher levels of democracy and
social justice added to the resentment caused by the preservation of the
authoritarian structures from the past and the excesses of developmentalist
capitalism that arose in the postwar period. Their demands, expressed from
the mid-1950s in movements such as the Sunagawa Struggle against the
expansion of the US’s Tachikawa Air Base in the west of Tokyo,
in time with the strike by miners from the Mitsui company in Miike
(Kyūshū). This unrest was augmented by pervasive demonstrations against
the Vietnam War and neighborhood and student uprisings.
The “season of politics” began to take shape in 1966 through the radica-
lization of the student movement, in particular the occupation and strike at
Waseda University (Tokyo), which served as a precursor to the university
conflicts of the following years. But it was not until October 8, 1967, that the
student movement became a major political force in Japan by triggering the
large-scale struggle against the Vietnam War with the assault on Haneda
Airport, aimed at preventing Prime Minister Eisaku Satō from visiting
South Vietnam. That day, the esthetics of the Japanese radical left became
famous, characterized by colored helmets, towels covering faces, and the use
of wooden poles to fight the riot police. Finally, Satō’s trip was not pre-
vented, and a student was killed during the riots. Far from discouraging the
radical left, that experience infused the movement with a militant spirit,
driving the escalation of protests in 1968.
Immediately after the Haneda Airport incident, the beginning of 1968
witnessed intense protests on the streets of Japan. Broadly inspired by the
Vietnam War, these included the Sasebo Struggle, opposing the mooring of
a nuclear aircraft carrier, and the Ōji Struggle, protesting the establishment
of a military hospital on Japanese territory by the US Forces. These cam-
paigns occurred in parallel to the beginning of the Sanrizuka Struggle
against the construction of the Narita International Airport, which involved
the expropriation of farmland, just as had happened almost a decade before
in the Sunagawa Struggle. Farmers allied with the student movement to fight
against the forces of law and order. Using guerrilla tactics, their resistance
lasted years. Likewise, in early 1968 a conflict erupted at the University of
Tokyo that would end up almost completely paralyzing the Japanese uni-
versity system. What triggered the turmoil was medical students’ protests
against the system of unpaid internships. The authorities’ repression of the
protest unexpectedly was the spark that lit, through assemblies known as the
“Zenkyōtō” (All Campus Joint Struggle Committees), a much broader fire of
protest. It quickly reached nearly every campus in Japan and called into
question the very institution of the university. The massive campus occupa-
tions captured the attention of the whole of Japanese society. Yukio
Mishima, a prominent intellectual and writer, even attended the barricaded
University of Tokyo to participate in a recorded debate with the Zenkyōtō
students, who despite regarding him as a reactionary enemy, respected his
commitment to direct action.
The social and political strife further intensified. Despite significant
signs of citizen support for radical left, the movement’s methods were
radicalizing at a rate that public opinion was not willing to tolerate. The
separation of the movement from the masses became unavoidable follow-
ing the turning point of the October 21 riots in Tokyo the most violent
incident the capital had seen since World War II. From that point on, the
authorities had greater legitimacy for their use of force against left-wing
movements, something that led to their even greater radicalization, cul-
minating with the emergence of armed groups in the early 1970s. The
protests of 1969 were in fact more intense and more radical than in the
storied year of 1968; but the prospects for a left-wing mass mobilization
had reduced dramatically. There were certain exceptional experiences
during this period, such as Japan’s own “Summer of Love” (when, for
several weeks, thousands gathered on Saturdays at Shinjuku Station for
protest concerts) and the peaceful demonstration of June 15, which drew
so 70,000 people.
But these events did not lay the foundations for lasting
political transformations.
Any chance of significant change in the postwar Japanese political system
was dashed in 1970 when the Anpo was renewed for the second time. In just
seven years, Japan had reached its objective of doubling its gross national
product in a decade, as set by Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda in 1960, in
a successful attempt to deactivate the street protests by producing
a generalized sense of economic wellbeing. And it also registered an annual
growth rate of over 10% until the 1973 oil crisis.
That same year, the US
withdrew nearly all its military forces from Vietnam. As a result, the
Japanese left definitively lost its main source of unity, which had linked
opposition to US interventionism in Asia with memories of Japan’s recent
imperialist past. To these factors should be added the reversion of Okinawa
to Japanese sovereignty the previous year, which had been one of the main
demands of the left and whose materialization meant activists had now less
reason to mobilize. In this new scenario, the leftist movements became
bogged down in constant splits that distanced them irremediably from the
interests of a population that was increasingly well off, as it reaped the
benefits of the so-called “Japanese economic miracle.” Most of Japanese
society enthusiastically embraced the ideology of “my-homism” (mai-
hōmushugi), buying cars and single-family houses in residential districts,
producing a climate of widespread social conformism. The consumerist
lifestyle of the urban middle class was epitomized in the three ks of
(car), kūrā (cooler) and karā terebi (color tv).
Despite its failure in the political and economic, the Japanese long 1968
significantly transformed the cultural sphere. One of the areas in which this
cultural impact can best be appreciated is cinema, as the mass art par
excellence in postwar Japan and, therefore, a complex vehicle for the
expression of the concerns and sensibilities of the social moment in which
the films were produced. Many representative films of the period opposed
the prevailing mass consumer society and consequently were aimed at an
educated minority (most political activists were more interested in main-
stream trends such as the yakuza [gangster] genre
). Yet it is also the case
that they were produced through the inherently mass and popular medium
of cinema, as works related to the rebellious spirit of their time. In this sense,
minority cinema became the representative cinematic ethos of the long 1968
generation in Japan.
In this regard, the directors of the Japanese long 1968 cinema conceived
of films as tools that transcended the artistic medium and served to trans-
form society. This is true even for directors with seemingly opposite visions
such as Nagisa Ōshima, a highly politicized artist, and Shūji Terayama, who
fostered a reputation as an apolitical provocateur. Ultimately, despite the
former’s embrace of politics and the latter’s disdain for them, both were
committed to a similar view of the film medium’s function. Ōshima claimed
that cinema “can’t be used for political purposes [and] a film can be truly
political only when it deeply moves the individual spectator.”
“Film,” he
added, “is something with which you strike at society.”
Thus, Ōshima
believed that the value of a film depended on the extent to which it was
“truly political” by having an impact on society. But at the same time, he
thought that cinema should move away from any political teleology by
refusing to instill closed messages in the viewer to make them think and
act toward a specific political direction. As regards Terayama, he claimed
that his aim was to “revolutionize real life without resorting to politics.”
Paradoxically, it is precisely this zeal to revolutionize real life – using art to
transcend itself and make an impact on society – where Terayama’s politics
In fact, it is worth noting that the very notion of “politics” in the “season
of politics” was understood by many activists to contain the seed of the
individual’s oppression by collective agents. Even the Zenkyōtō assemblies
on campuses, with a clear orientation toward the collective transformation
of society, were deeply concerned that the necessary political struggle
against capitalism and imperialism could degenerate into uncritical submis-
sion to the group, which they perceived that was happening within both the
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and anti-JCP sects.
The cinematographic ambivalence regarding what was “political” was not
just reflected in film practice and theory but also in the suspicions of
directors toward the idea of a film movement altogether (here they broke
with their Nouvelle Vague counterparts in France). In this sense, the con-
sideration of these directors as members of a film movement is not based in
their subjective and explicit sense of belonging to one. Instead, it is based in
a common approach in their films. This approach, addressed by the authors
in this special issue, stresses cinema’s social impact. More specifically, it
encourages spectators to autonomously reflect on the problems they are
seeing on the screen. Capturing this ambition, director Masao Adachi said:
“The frame will be there, but, at the same time, the audience should decide.
It is fine for the filmmaker to put all his feelings into the work, but he should
make films where the audience can watch it more freely as well.”
We can observe this subjectivist approach to film through distancing
effects such as theatricality, experimental music and sounds disconnected
from images, camera instability, the inclusion of photographs and on-screen
text, and the anti-narrative disordering of scenes. This kind of filming
stemmed from a reaction against the so-called humanist cinema of many
works by renowned filmmakers such as Akira Kurosawa, Masaki Kobayashi,
Kon Ichikawa, and Keisuke Kinoshita.
Their works were related to the
ideology of the institutional left,
with an objectivist way of portraying
reality in which the director aims to instill modern emancipatory values in
the viewer and use characters as pieces of a causal and linear narrative
structure superior to them. It should also be noted that the cinema of the
Japan’s long 1968 mainly originated from a system of independent film
production companies detached from the major studies, much like youthful
radicals disassociated themselves from the institutional left. A more experi-
mental and subjectivist cinema was the result.
In this regard, the Japanese long 1968 cinema was an artistic phenom-
enon halfway between the modern and the postmodern. David Harvey
understands the modern project in terms of two central commitments:
first, to develop a kind of rational thought that conceives the world as
something that can be accurately described and represented, based on the
aspiration to objectivity; second, to use the knowledge generated by indivi-
duals working freely for the end of human emancipation.
In the case at
hand, Japanese long 1968 directors rejected the first vector, the value of
objectivity, but they retained the second one, the quest for emancipation.
Recent scholarship helps to illuminate this position of Japanese cinema
between the modern and the postmodern. There are three monographs in
English focused fully or partially on Japan’s 1968 cinema: Desser, Eros plus
Massacre; Standish, Politics, Porn and Protest; and Furuhata, Cinema of
Actuality. All of them set up a time framework (from the late 1950s to the
early 1970s in the cases of Desser and Standish, and the “season of politics” in
the case of Furuhata) to historically contextualize their mainly film studies
approach. Drawing on their contributions, our goal in this special issue is to
take a step further and look at the socio-political situation of that moment to
explore the impact of the Japanese long 1968 on cinema as well as the
filmmakers’ intervention in its historical phenomenon. This is an approach
developed from a global perspective by Gerhardt and Saljoughi, 1968 and
Global Cinema, and Adamson, Enduring Images, whose application to the
Japanese case will afford us a better understanding not only of the addressed
films but also of their time.
It is in this sense that the essays gathered here aim to expand the focus of
analysis from the particularities of the films under consideration to the
complex interactions between history, politics, and cinematographic crea-
tion. Within this approach, the articles that follow illustrate the interactions
between fictional film and the revolutionizing of consciousness, documen-
tary films and militant cinema, psychedelics and cinema as ways of trans-
forming subjectivity, and humor as a countercultural phenomenon in the
Japanese long 1968. The first of them, Julia Alekseyeva’s “‘Self-Revolutions
of Everyday Life’: The Politics of ATG,” gives an overview of the Japanese
long 1968 fictional cinema as a phenomenon mainly organized around the
art house film production company Art Theater Guild (ATG), which she
considers as an integral part of the radical New Left zeitgeist. The author
argues that each film within the ATG cycle is more similar to other films
within this production company than other ones within the respective
director’s filmography. Through the analysis of three representative 1968
films, Nagisa Ōshima’s Death by Hanging (Kōshikei), Kihachi Okamoto’s
Human Bullet (Nikudan), and Susumu Hani’s Nanami: The Inferno of the
First Love (Hatsukoi: Jigoku-hen), Alekseyeva shows how the cohesive
thread uniting ATG films consisted of an experimental form chiefly
strategies of estrangement, dehabituation and alienation – aimed at negating
and reconstructing everyday life by revolutionizing consciousness, just as
the student movement was trying to do on the occupied campuses.
In the second article, “1968 and Rural Japan as a Site of Struggle.
Approaches to Rural Landscapes in the History of Japanese Documentary
Film,” Marcos P. Centeno-Martín traces the trajectory of documentary
cinema in Japan up to the emergence of militant cinema of the long 1968.
The author points out that documentary films became political in the mid-
1960s, coinciding with the proliferation of independent productions and the
appearance of an active student movement. Both Shinsuke Ogawa and
Noriaki Tsuchimoto portrayed the student revolts on campuses by radica-
lizing Susumu Hani’s leftist documentary-making method. But Ogawa took
a step further when he abandoned the university barricades to film the
battles against the state in the rural area of Sanrizuka from 1968, where he
would live with the peasants for nine years in a commune his crew members
created at a borrowed farmhouse.
The third article is Patrick Noonan’s “An Avant-Garde of the Mind: Ōe
Masanori and Psychedelic Cinema in the Global Sixties.” In this essay,
Noonan investigates how Masanori Ōe’s filmmaking illustrates the way
psychedelics and cinema were understood in the sixties as two media
whose intersection worked as mutually reinforcing technologies for trans-
forming human subjectivity through experiences of bodily and psychic
estrangement. It was not about a simplistic call to take drugs and abandon
all constructive activity; rather, it was for social change based on personal
transformation. Likewise, Noonan’s research is not intended to constrain
Ōe as an auteur within the history of sixties cinema in Japan but to show
how his work was an integral part of a global cultural trend, with especially
strong connections with the United States as the birthplace of the psyche-
delic movement, of the long 1968.
Finally, the fourth article, “Comedies of Resistance: Shūji Terayama and
the Politics of Visual Humor” by Manuel Garin, addresses the way
Terayama’s experimental cinema, by means of bodily humor and visual
gags, intervened in and at the same time reflected the sensibility and contra-
dictions of the protests of the Japanese New Left. According to Garin,
Terayama’s films from the early 1970s were part of a Japanese counter-
cultural phenomenon rooted in the frustrations and disillusionment of
a generation that missed out on the chance for social change following the
peak of 1968. In its wake, both student activists and artists mistrusted speech
as a communicative and political tool.
Ultimately, our goal with this collection of articles is to go beyond the
critical understanding of individual films. Much more, we seek greater insight
into how they reflect and interact with the political and social circumstance,
the struggles and revolts of the historical context in which they were pro-
duced. Doing this, we hope to contribute to the interdisciplinary discussion
by looking at history from a field that is not strictly historiographical film
studies –, and analyzing film from fields related to the social and political
realm and not directly to the cinematographic one. We are convinced that
such an approach can be productive not only for the better comprehension of
the sixties in Japan but also for the global study of this historical period.
1. The authors would like to thank Jeremy Varon and Natasha Zaretsky their supreme
editing work and insightful suggestions in the discussion of the articles that comprise
this special issue. This work was supported by the Research Group GREGAL (2017 SGR
1596) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona .
2. Stam, “The ‘Long 1968ʹ and Radical Film Aesthetics,” 23.
3. Katsiaficas, The Imagination of the New Left.
4. In fact, the volume Sherman, Van Dijk, Alinder, and Aneesh, The Long 1968 dedicates
specific chapters to areas such as US, France, Mexico, Northern Ireland, and Zambia,
but not to Japan. It is only very recently that a volume has been published in English
focused on Japan: Walker, The Red Years.
5. Furuhata, Cinema of Actuality, 1–2.
6. Wheeler, “The Japanese Student Movement,” 357.
7. Nakanishi, “Kakumaru – Analysis of an Ultra-Radical Group,” 216.
8. The so-called “reverse course” was a process whereby the authorities of occupied
Japan, in line with the new Cold War policy, reversed the democratizing measures
they had promoted during the first two postwar years. They stopped antitrust reforms,
rehabilitated collaborators of the prewar fascist regime, passed laws limiting protest,
started a process of rearmament, and launched a “red purge” firing thousands of
employees suspected of sympathizing with communism.
9. Ikeda, “Historical Background,” 9.
10. Koda, “America’s Cold War,” 270.
11. Walker, “Revolution and Retrospection,” 1.
12. Steinhoff, “Student Activism in Asia,” 63.
13. The signing of the Anpo in 1951 marked the end of US occupation while giving
exclusive permission to the American army to post troops on Japanese territory.
14. Guarné, “Escaping through Words,” 94–95.
15. Havens, Fire Across the Sea, 179.
16. Taira, “Dialectics of Economic Growth,” 167, 170–172.
17. Gluck, “The Past in the Present,” 75; and Kelly, “Finding a Place in Metropolitan
Japan,” 195.
18. Oguma, “Japan’s 1968,” 16.
19. In a similar way as Ridgely (Japanese Counterculture. The Antiestablishment Art of
Terayama Shūji, 177) has pointed out that the nonchalant spirit of the era (in the
presentation of nudity, homosexuality, anarchistic social organization, loud music,
and the general disregard for state power as an authority) turned a minor subculture
into the representative ethos of a whole generation.
20. Ōshima, “On the Attitude of Film Theorists,” 140.
21. Ōshima quoted in the combined interview with Yoshida Kijū, “Jidai no eiga warera no
te de,” 948.
22. Sorgenfrei, Unspeakable Acts, 270.
23. Harootunian and Kohso, “Messages in a Bottle,” 75–76.
24. Bock, Japanese Film Directors, 137.
25. De Vargas, “Radical Subjectivity as a Counter to Japanese Humanist Cinema.”
26. Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity, 12–27.
27. There are works with a similar approach within the Japanese framework but focused
on very specific historical aspects of the long 1968 instead of starting from a general
perspective of the phenomenon, such as the works by Perkins, The United Red Army
on Screen on how films depicted the events carried out by the armed group United
Red Army in Japan; Eckersall, ”The Emotional Geography of Shinjuku;” and
Nettleton, ”Shinjuku as Site,” about the relationship between cinema and Tokyo’s
Shinjuku district as the physical epicenter of the Japanese long 1968; and De Vargas,
”Japanese New Left’s Political Theories of Subjectivity andŌshima Nagisa’s Practice
of Cinema,” on the intersection between film practice and the political theories of
subjectivity by Japanese New Leftist thinkers.
Disclosure statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
Notes on contributors
Blai Guarné, PhD, is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the East Asian Studies Program
at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). He has convened the Media Studies
Section at the European Association for Japanese Studies (EAJS) and his research focuses on
cultural nationalism and identity politics in a globalized Japan. Email:
Ferran de Vargas holds a PhD in Intercultural Studies by the Universitat Autònoma de
Barcelona (UAB), and he is currently joining the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) as a
postdoctoral researcher. His investigations focus on the intersection between postwar
Japanese aesthetic practices and political ideologies. Email:
Blai Guarné
Ferran de Vargas
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Although much has been written about the political theories of several thinkers associated with the Japanese New Left, to gain a better understanding of those theories, a perspective that conceives them as a conversation within a unitary (but sometimes contradictory) ideology is needed. Likewise, we know little about how media forms other than the written word contributed to this conversation. To address these gaps in our understanding, this article investigates how the practice of cinema, through the paradigmatic example of shima Nagisa's film Kshikei 絞死刑 (Death by Hanging) (1968), intervened in the important debate within the Japanese New Left on the notion of shuta-isei 主体性 (subjectivity). Relating the different dimensions of an ideology, in this case the political theory and the practice of cinema of the Japanese New Left, will help us to gain a better understanding of both the ideology as a whole and the dimensions comprising it.
Since World War II, students in East and Southeast Asia have led protest movements that toppled authoritarian regimes in countries such as Indonesia, South Korea, and Thailand. Elsewhere in the region, student protests have shaken regimes until they were brutally suppressed—most famously in China’s Tiananmen Square and in Burma. But despite their significance, these movements have received only a fraction of the notice that has been given to American and European student protests of the 1960s and 1970s. This book tells the story of student protest movements across Asia. Taking an interdisciplinary, comparative approach, the chapters here examine ten countries, focusing on those where student protests have been particularly fierce and consequential: China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. They explore similarities and differences among student movements in these countries, paying special attention to the influence of four factors: higher education systems, students’ collective identities, students’ relationships with ruling regimes, and transnational flows of activist ideas and inspirations.