JAPAN: STUDENT ACTIVISM IN AN EMERGING DEMOCRACY

PATRICIA G. STEINHOFF

While today we understand Japan as a postindustrial consolidated democracy, in the late 1940s Japan was an emerging democracy, shaking off the legacy of more than a decade of authoritarian and military rule and rebuilding a country devastated by a war it had brought upon itself. Within the group of Asian nations represented in this volume, Japan stands as the former invader and colonial overlord. However, after the end of the war, Japan itself lived under seven years of an American- dominated Allied Occupation (1945-52) that fundamentally reshaped its institutions and set it on a new course. Repositioning the development of student activism in postwar Japan in the context of an emerging democracy and developmentalism should facilitate comparisons with student activism in other Asian countries. Toward that end, this chapter details chronologically the phases of student activism in Japan, interlacing this history with changes in the structure and scale of higher education, in the array of allies and opponents among whom students engaged, in the international milieu, and in the changing political climate. Putting these developments in context, the chapter concludes that the political space and civil liberties available in postwar Japan have fundamentally shaped the forms and nature of student engagement.

 
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