’s Japan at the Crossroads: Conflict and Compromise after Anpo
(Harvard University Press, 2018) is an ambitious look at the transformations of Japanese society after the massive protests against renewal of the US-Japan Security Treaty (abbreviated as “Anpo” in Japanese) in 1960. The treaty was renewed despite fifteen months of protest that involved 30 million people—1/3 of Japan’s population. The treaty, rammed through by the government of Kishi Nobusuke, but Kapur argues that the aftermath of this political paroxysm fundamentally changed Japan in complex and lasting ways. Kapur’s narrative begins with political changes both at home and in the US-Japan relationship, but the book addresses the economy, society, the labor movement literature, the arts, the mass media, the conservative establishment of the police and courts, and even the revitalization of right-wing forces like the yakuza. Kapur argues that the sometimes violent and ultimately failed protests against Anpo helped delegitimize extra-parliamentary protest and ushered in a turn toward the depoliticization of public society. Most provocatively, Kapur challenges the idea of the “1955 system” of one-party conservative rule under the Liberal Democratic Party, arguing instead that 1960 was the real landmark moment in the creation of a broader “Anpo system” that is the book’s subject.