Now read on … Asian Anarchism in English (1): Japan

Suggested reading list from Libero International.

Submitted by Spartacus on January 30, 2011

Frank Gould: Anarchism in Japan (Anarchy (London), special issue, 1972): quite good, detailed information on anarchists in the pre-war labour movement, and on the struggle with the CP; not so much on the post-war period, mainly for lack of things to write about. Summaries of current (1970-71) groups' positions and activities are useful and interesting, but need up-dating.

C. Tsuzuki: "Kõtoku, Õsugi and Japanese Anarchism" (Hitotsubashi Journal of Social Studies, March 1966): written by a university professor; a history of the early movement based on biographies of Kõtoku and Õsugi. Tries to show that Japanese anarchism grew out of traditional Eastern nihilism; plenty of facts, but hardly inspiring reading.

C. Tsuzuki: "Anarchism in Japan" in D.E. Apter/J. Joll (ed): Anarchism Today (anchor: 1971): the best source on the modern movement, concentrating on the popular movements of the late 60s/ early 70s. He stresses that these were highly anarchistic in their aims and methods, and puts his finger on the pulse of what is happening today.

Phil Billingsley: The Japanese Anarchists (Leeds Anarchist Group, 1969): a brief history up to 1923, concentrating on Kõtoku and Õsugi; very short, and inaccurate in places, but useful as a summary and in combination with the previous two.

Martin Bernal: "The Triumph of Anarchism over Marxism, 1906-1907" (in M.C.Wright: China in Revolution, Stanford University, 1968, pp 97-142): actually concerns the Chinese movement, but the publishing and other activities of the Chinese anarchists in Japan are described, along with their relations with the Japanese comrades; written by a scholar - very detailed and copiously footnoted, most useful for showing the inter-relationship between the two movements.

F.G. Notehelfer: Kõtoku Shüsui (Cambridge University, 1971): this is also written by a scholar - a very detailed biography which tries to show, almost apologetically, that his anarchism was an inevitable result of the cultural strains placed upon the traditional samurai ethic by the sudden political changes after 1868. See the review piece in LI 1.

More detailed articles, especially on Kõtoku, are listed in the bibliography to Notehelfer. There are several books on the labour movement, none of which do justice to the anarchists. Still, odds and ends of information can be found in them, and also in the relatively rich "preventive scholarship" - type stuff on the communist movement. When we've had a chance to look at these, we'll suggest some titles. Meanwhile, Cecil H.Uyehara: Leftwing Social Movements in Japan: Annotated Bibliography (Tokyo:1959), though out of date, might be useful (it's probably in university libraries in England and the States). These are all the titles we know at present specifically concerning the Japanese anarchist movement. We hope people will let us know of anything we've left out.