ASCJ 2009
Session 22: Room 11-419

Postwar Social Movements across Japan and the United States: Connections and Conflicts 

Organizer: Yuko Kawaguchi, University of Tokyo 
Chair: Yosuke Nirei, Indiana University South Bend 

This panel focuses on transnational networks of social movements across the U.S. and Japan after World War II.  The scholarship on social movements has tended to presume the centrality of the nation-state, and therefore not fully explored the dynamism of movements that transcended national boundaries.  With this as our point of departure, the panel offers three critical perspectives on the transnational ties of social movement, paying particular attention to the complexities of the interactions.  Kawaguchi’s paper focuses on a transnational alliance of peace movements concerning nuclear weapons during the U.S. occupation of Japan, and describes how the inter-personal connections of Christians functioned in forming such an alliance, even though the differences in opinions still remained.  Toyoda’s paper also depicts collaborations and conflicts in the birth control movement in the early 1950s, in which the American involvements had an effect to undermine the Japanese feminist attempts to gain reproductive rights, thus making the claim entangled with eugenics and racism.  Race and Christianity are central to Tsuchiya's paper, which delineates how African American church leaders inspired Korean activists in Kawasaki, who transformed Black Theology so that they won a watershed case in expanding citizenship in the early 1970s.  Through the detailed exploration of such exchanges, this panel as a whole attempts to highlight the agencies of the Japanese activists. They were not passive recipients of American influence, but active participants, who oftentimes interpreted and mobilized it according to their own social context in pursuing their own benefits.
1) Yuko Kawaguchi, University of Tokyo 
Between “World Peace Day” and “No More Hiroshima Day”: Trans-Pacific Alliance by Christians in the Early Postwar Years 

It is almost a cliché to point out that the narratives of Hiroshima bombing in Japan have often been secured within the mainstream national historiography of Japan. However this has not always been the case.  At one time in postwar history, certain groups on both sides of the Pacific Ocean shared a seemingly similar idea about the meaning of Hiroshima.  In April 1948, a newspaper article reported that Kiyoshi Tanimoto, a pastor in Hiroshima, was trying to launch a campaign to designate August 6th as World Peace Day.  A church member in Oakland, California, resonated to his idea and played a leading part in establishing the International World Peace Day Movement (IWPDM), which eventually spread to peace activists in more than fifty countries around the world.  This paper will describe how the joint action of Christians across Japan and the U.S. made the IWPDM possible and explore how various participants of the IWPDM observed August 6th in different contexts while still representing Hiroshima as the “symbol of world peace.”  In doing so, it attempts to argue that, unlike later years, such representation was shared beyond the national boundaries in this period, supported by the liaison of individuals and small groups of activists.  Yet it did not necessarily derive from the universal cause of pacifism, and in the cases of the groups outside Hiroshima, nor from the concerns about the survivors; oftentimes it was rather a part of their attempts to solve the problems in their lived social realities. 

2)  Maho Toyoda, Kansai University 
American Intervention in Postwar Japanese Birth Control Movement 

In 1953, Clarence Gamble, one of the world’s most prominent American philanthropists in the field of birth control, encouraged some of the Japanese birth control activists to hold International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) Conference in Tokyo in the next year or two.  He also suggested that various organizations, each of which worked individually for promoting birth control, should unify into a national federation.  His suggestions were ultimately realized.  Thus he seems to be credited for his crucial role in the history of birth control in Japan.  All the more so with the fact that Gamble started to focus on family planning work in Asia after WWII and made first of many grants to projects in Japan.  However, Gamble was a controversial figure.  His main concern was the fertility differential, or the high fertility of the “unfit.”  In Asia, he often treated local women with insensitivity and arrogance.  Soon it became clear that his intentions conflicted with international family planning professionals and organizations.  Later, he was expelled from the board of the IPPF.  This paper tries to clarify the partnership between Japanese and American birth control movements, focusing on the process of convening the 5th IPPF conference in 1955.  The paper will pay close attention to the conflicts as well as collaborations among them.  By so doing, the paper hopes to contribute to the understanding that the feminist venture to win reproductive autonomy was often involved in an intrigue with the concern over overpopulation and the concept of eugenics.
3) Kazuyo Tsuchiya, University of California, San Diego; Japan Society for the Promotion of Science 
Transnational Antiracist Alliances: Black Church Leaders and Zainichi Koreans in Japan’s Struggles over Citizenship, 1969-1974 

This paper examines how African American church leaders inspired Koreans in Japan (or zainichi Koreans) and helped them engage in struggles over citizenship.  Through a case study of Korean activism in Kawasaki city, located in the heart of the major industrial belt in Japan, I demonstrate how zainichi Koreans embraced black liberation struggles and Black Theology, transforming them into a vehicle for social change.  Kawasaki city has a large number of Korean workers and their descendants who were enlisted by the Japanese government to construct military factories during WWII.  These Koreans, who once had rendered service to Imperial Japan, were deprived of legal rights in the postwar period.  By the early 1970s, however, more than three-fourths of the Koreans in Japan were Japanese-born, and these new generation of Koreans started engaging in a series of political struggles against the Japanese government and Japanese companies. Antiracist networking among Christian leaders, especially with African American church leaders, had empowered Kawasaki Koreans to contest the narrow definition of citizenship in Kawasaki and Japan in the early 1970s.  I explore how Kawasaki Koreans were influenced by Black Theology and invested it with new meaning; how they encountered black church leaders through world-wide religious organizations such as the World Council of Churches, and searched for common ground; and how African American church leaders helped zainichi Koreans win a victory in the Hitachi Employment Discrimination Trial, which offered a framework for voicing alternative visions of citizenship for Kawasaki Koreans. 

Discussant: Yosuke Nirei, Indiana University South Bend