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Against Japanism

Author: Against Japanism

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This podcast seeks to challenge the commonly held assumptions about Japan as harmonious, homogeneous, and traditional by recasting its history as a history of conflict and change, as the history of class struggles, from anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, and intersectional perspectives.
27 Episodes
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Maya and Kota sit down with Le Phuong Anh to talk about the struggle of Vietnamese migrant workers and international students in Japan. Anh is a PhD student at the graduate school of Asia Pacific Studies at Waseda University, whose research interest is in Migration Studies and international student mobility, as well as Vietnamese middle skill migrant workers in Japan. She is the co-author of Against the ‘Japanese Dream’: Vietnamese Student Workers in Japan published in Asian Labour Revie...
Kota sits down with J from Politics in Command to discuss "multipolarity," a discourse which sees the existence of multiple superpowers as a positive development from the unipolar world dominated by the United States. We ask whether the politics of multipolarity is genuinely anti-imperialist or revisionist, an abandonment of revolutionary principles for reformism and class collaborationism. We critically analyze the overlaps between the reactionary ideology of Aleksandr Dugin and ps...
Felix a.k.a. Marxist Disco joins the show to discuss the wave of urban redevelopment happening in Japan right now.There are more than 200 buildings planned just in the Tokyo area including Japan’s tallest skyscraper on record, despite the chronic recession and stagnant growth rate the country has been experiencing since the 1990s. To make sense of this contradiction, we critically engage with Marxist geographer David Harvey’s work, particularly his theory of "spatial fix," and of the urban as...
Alex from the BeruBara Tag Boom joins the show to discuss the history and politics of an all-women musical theater based in Western Japan known as the Takarazuka Revue. We discuss the class politics of the Takarazuka Revue, particularly its ties to an Osaka-based private railway corporation called the Hankyu Corporation (now a subsidiary of the Hankyu Hanshin Toho Group), the development of railway infrastructure and the suburbanization of Osaka in the early twentieth century that create...
Kota sits down with Talia and Prez from the Minyan to answer the question: Was pre-WWII Japan fascist? This is the first installment of a multi-part series on the origins, political economy, and culture of Japanese fascism.Outro: Warszawianka in Japanese (ワルシャワ労働者の歌)Support the Show.
Roger Raymundo, a member of Migrante Japan and co-host of Radyo Migrante re-joins the show to discuss the imperialist agenda of the upcoming G7 summit in Hiroshima, how it affects the workers, peasants, and migrants from the Global South, and other related topics such as the US-led militarization of the Asia-Pacific region and Japan's "Official Security Assistance" to the Philippines.We also discuss the latest amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that would make it easier f...
Niki from Buraku Stories joins the show to discuss the history of the struggle of a discriminated outcaste people in Japan known as Burakumin. The term “Burakumin” originated in the early twentieth century, “Buraku” meaning “village” or “hamlet,” and “min” meaning people. However, the oppression against the Burakumin people originates from the pre-capitalist status hierarchy consolidated during the Tokugawa or Edo Period between the seventeenth and late nineteenth centuries known as Shin...
Kota joins an online forum “Nikkei Organizing: A Community Discussion on Organizing Strategy and Developing Revolutionary Movements” held via Zoom on November 13, 2022.The event was hosted and moderated by Miya Sommers from Nikkei Resisters as part of her Master’s thesis project, and joined by representatives of two other US-based organizations: Zen and Henry from J-Town Action and Solidarity, and Anne and Cori from Nikkei Uprising. The event was also inspired by James Boggs' 1974 speech "Thi...
Alisa and Hye Sung from Deprogramming Imperialism join the show to discuss Abe's legacy and his ties to the Unification Church, and review everything that's transpired since his assassination by Yamagami Tetsuya in July before the unpopular state funeral this Tuesday on September 27, 2022. We discuss the UC's activities in Japan, Korea, Philippines, Nepal, Soviet Union, El Salvador, Bolivia, and Kenya, as well as its syncretic religious fascism, fetishization of the bourgeois family, and reac...
Wendy Matsumura, a historian and the author of The Limits of Okinawa: Japanese Capitalism, Living Labour, and Theorizations of Community joins the show to discuss the history of Okinawa through a historical materialist perspective. We focus primarily on the history of agrarian class struggles in pre-WWII Okinawa, and how the perception of Okinawa as a culturally distinct space and exotic hinterland is closely tied to the uneven development of capitalism in Japan through the colonization of te...
Alex Finn Marcartney joins Kota to talk about the history of the anti-Vietnam War movement in Japan and the legacy of the Red Army Faction or the Sekigun-ha, the mother organization of the Japanese Red Army and the United Red Army we previously discussed in this podcast. In this episode, we discuss...1) Japan’s role in the Vietnam War and the significance of Okinawa as a “keystone” for the US-Japanese imperialism in the Cold War as 2022 marks the 50th year since its so-called “reversion”...
David McNeil joins Kota to discuss militant labour unionism and state repression in the Kansai region of southwestern Japan. We specifically discuss the struggle of truck drivers who work for small-to-medium ready-mix concrete companies, and whose job is to take dry concrete, water it, and deliver the wet concrete to various construction sites managed by large construction companies. They are organized by the Kansai Regional Ready-Mix Branch known as Kan’nama Shibu or Kan’nama, which is ...
Setsu Shigematsu joins Kota to discuss the history of revolutionary feminism and women's liberation movement in Japan.We first discuss the history of feminists in pre-WWII Japan such as Kanno Sugako & Kaneko Fumiko who critiqued the family system and its link with the emperor system, as well as the reality of Japanese imperialism today, its oppression of non-Japanese women and its relation with US imperialism. We then discuss the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s known as Ūma...
Tatiana Linkhoeva joins the show to discuss her book Revolution Goes East: Imperial Japan and Soviet Communism. Some members of the Japanese ruling class reacted to the Russian Revolution with skepticism and hostility, culminating in the Siberian Expedition. Others saw opportunities in recognizing the Soviet Union and pursuing diplomatic relations, partly influenced by the popularity of Russian literature at the time and by the notion that the revolution will modernize Russia. However, a...
In this preview of a patron-exclusive episode, Ken Kawashima discusses intermediary exploitation (中間搾取, chūkan sakushu) as a form of capitalist exploitation that indirectly exploits the labour power of workers through various intermediaries such as sub-contractors, labour brokers, and temp agencies who pinch a portion of the workers' wage as fees for finding work, providing housing, tools, and other "services." This form of exploitation has served as a control mechanism to discipline a ...
Kota is joined by Roger Raymundo of Migrante Japan, a regional chapter of Migrante International, a global alliance of grassroots migrant organizations of overseas Filipinos and their families.We begin our conversation with Roger’s own story of migration from the Philippines to Japan, and how the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during WWII affected his life, as well as the semi-colonization and semi-feudalization of the Philippines by imperialist countries such as Japan as the root cau...
Kota is joined by Ken Kawashima, author of The Proletarian Gamble: Korean Workers in Interwar Japan and translator of Theory of Crisis by Japanese Marxist economist Uno Kōzō. We begin the interview by discussing Uno’s methodology in analyzing capitalism called Sandankairon, or three-steps theory. The first step involves elucidating the fundamental principles of capitalism. The second step involves tracing the historical development of capitalism in stages. The third step is the conjectur...
Kota sits down with Max Ward to discuss his book about the Japanese state’s effort to suppress revolutionary movements and ideologically convert their participants through the Peace Preservation Law in the 1920s & 30s. We begin our interview by discussing the elusive concept of “Kokutai” (national polity or national essence) through a metaphor of Ghost in the Machine, the ideology of imperial sovereignty that animated the Japanese state and its application of the PPL. While the...
Kota sits down with a Palestinian-Japanese journalist Shigenobu May to talk about Palestine. May is the daughter of Shigenobu Fusako, a former member of the Japanese Red Army and a political prisoner in Japan. She is currently based in Lebanon, and since Lebanon is a country underdeveloped by imperialism, the availability of electricity and internet connectivity are very limited. As a result, I interviewed her on two separate occasions and combined them into one episode. In the first seg...
Kota is joined by Chelsea Szendi Schieder to discuss her latest book Coed Revolution: The Female Student in the Japanese New Left.Women in the Japanese New Left played a vital role in building up the militant student movement against Japan’s new capitalist education system and its complicity with the US imperialist aggression in Southeast Asia. However, the gender dynamic and patriarchal tendencies within the movement undermined their effort and led to the movement’s demise. This weakness was...
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