Unpicking Japan’s fabricated homogenous sociality

16 unpicking japan

Photo: Rodrigo Nunes cc Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

Japan already experienced a financial meltdown in the mid-1990s. At that time, people realised that every dream they had been given by the post-war regime was entirely bogus, and they began to nurture a deep scepticism of capitalism itself. Since then we have sensed that sooner or later it would also happen on a global scale. But now that it is really happening, we, the anti-capitalists, recognise after the event that we failed to grasp the full implication of that early crack that opened between then and now. We recognise that we missed the chance to act.

First of all, we were still haunted by the failure of the New Lefts, the failure of their authoritarian vanguardism, which ended up destroying the impetus of mass militancy and resulted in a general state of inertia with a stifled pacifism. Such conditions prevented us from developing creative strategies and tactics necessary for drawing the possibilities from the crisis and organising an anti-capitalist sociality in the Japanese context.

Such organising must have multiple dimensions, involving the entirety of our social lives: workplace, school, family, and every stretch of urban space. Most importantly, it cannot happen without undoing the fabricated homogenous sociality of Japan, which is tightly netted and highly controlled by the dominant informatic machine of the state/media conglomerate. With the double financial crises, however, the basis of Japanese sociality – including the secure workplace, decent education, and conventional family hierarchy – is crumbling. Thus the target of our organising should be ex-workers, ex-students and ex-mamas/papas/children ousted/released hereby.

Also crumbling is the myth of Japan as an insular nation consisting of a pure race. This is why we need to build solidarity with migrant workers and a coalition with movements in other East Asian territories. By so doing we must concretise Japan as a borderless archipelago continguous to the Asian continent. The global solidarity which the secluded Japanese movement has long dreamt of can be initiated only along with the revolutionary current of East Asia.

Go Hirasawa and Sabu Kohso are both anti-capitalist activists and members of the editorial collective of the Japanese magazine VOL. They are editing a book about contemporary social movements in Japan for Autonomedia

This article is part of the t-10 series from Issue 5 of Turbulence asking, ‘What were you wrong about 10 years ago?‘.

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