the storms of June are over: but the Japanese sky is still full of clouds. The recent high-tide of the anti-Kishi movement, whose crest was the massive resistance to the new US-Japan Security Treaty, washed away the visit of President Eisenhower. Nevertheless, the Premier and his Liberal-Democratic Party won the summer. The ever-increasing petitions (signed by more than ten million people, and endorsed by almost all the major commercial newspapers) that the Lower House should be dissolved before the ratification, were disregarded. The new Treaty became effective, though the Opposition declared it null and void. Kishi has gone, but the Kishi-policy has survived.
It is too early to estimate the general political significance of the resistance. The new Security Treaty was intended to tie Japan down for another ten years as a military base against the Communist camp in the Far East. Mr. Kishi, adhering to the familiar logic that the Cold War is “reality” and Neutralism “the nightmare”, insisted that the new Treaty would give more equal terms to Japan than the old one, which was nothing more than the bastard child of the American Occupation. The Opposition proposed that Japan should renounce, rather than revise, the old Treaty.
At one point, there seemed to be a compromise emerging between these opposing viewpoints. But in the debates of the Special Committee, the Kishi Government, by its inconsistent and unconvincing replies, failed to vindicate its claim that the new Treaty was purely defensive in character. This was the beginning of popular suspicion and anxiety. Seizing this opportunity, the recently-formed People’s Council Against The Revision of the Security Treaty rapidly extended its influence by petitions and demonstrations. The dominant organisations in this Council were the Socialist Party and the Sohyo (General Council of Trade Unions), but it also included the Communist Party and the Japan Council Against Nuclear Weapons. At the same time, the National Federation of Students (Zengakuren), split between pro-Trotskyist and pro-Communist factions, staged massive demonstrations.
May 20 marked the turning point of the whole movement against the Treaty. On that day, the
It is clear that the recent tension has been no violence inspired by international Communism, the excuse most commonly offered. The fact is that any popular opposition to US Far Eastern diplomacy will always be explained in this way. There is no hostility to the Chinese from the Japanese nation as a whole: and they have reason to know better than any people on earth the human consequences of nuclear strategies. On the other hand, the reconstruction of the Japanese economy has gone hand in hand with the American economy, particularly in the sphere of foreign trade. And the Government is in many ways a post-Occupation government. It is no wonder, then, that Mr. Kishi firmly backed the Treaty, and that Japanese big business firmly backed Mr. Kishi. And although the anti-Kishi movement was centrally organised by the Left, it was not a general movement against the existing economic system. The anti-Kishi resistance gained a great deal of strength from the Government’s intrigue: the Government itself has not fallen. Perhaps the greatest legacy of the recent events is the establishment of a tradition of civil disobedience, a form of political action which would scarcely have been expected in pre-War Japan.