• Short Summary

    The Japanese Government is once again considering tough laws to control radical activities and violence on the nation's campuses and elsewhere.

  • Description

    The Japanese Government is once again considering tough laws to control radical activities and violence on the nation's campuses and elsewhere.

    Four times in the past the government has considered and then abandoned the idea after encountering stiff opposition both inside and outside Parliament.

    But the continuing rise in student violence has revived demands for action to prevent colleges and universities from becoming hotbeds of extremism.

    In the past few years, thousands of police have been hurt - some badly - during violent rioting by left-wing students. Police armoured cars have been burnt and millions of pounds of damage done. During 1969 alone, sixty universities were taken over by the students for periods of up to eight months.

    Outside Japan, student activities have served to embarrass a sensitive nation. In June last year, three Japanese students working for a Palestinian organisation machine gunned people at Lod Airport in Israel, killing 24 and wounding at least 72. The Japanese Parliament sent an envoy to apologise to the Government of Israel. In March 1970, members of the 'Red Army' (Rengo Sakigun) Japanese student organisation hijacked an aircraft on an internal flight over Japan and ordered the pilot to fly to North Korea. North Korean newspapers were critical of Japanese handling of the incident.

    But it has been internal dissention in Japanese universities among the students themselves that has done most to create demands for revision of the internal security laws governing campus activities.

    In March last year, for example, police unearthed three bodies of students 'executed' by the 'Red Army'. A total of twelve bodies were discovered. Members of the Red Army confessed to having planned the executions and were arrested. They will be tried in Tokyo later this month.

    Some of those killed had apparently opposed a plan for an armed uprising in Tokyo, including an attack on the official residence of the Prime Minister, Mr. Kakuei Tanaka. One girl was accused only of 'bourgeois desire for material things'. She was tied to a post, whipped with wire thongs and starved to death. She was eight months pregnant.

    After severs riots in 1969, the Japanese government introduced the present Campus Control Law, which empowers the Education Minister to close any college if its authorities fail to resolve a dispute. This law expires in two years.

    SYNOPSIS: In June last year, an Israeli court heard witnesses testify against a young Japanese -- Kozu Okamoto. They claimed that he and two fellow-Japanese machine gunned and threw grenades into crowds of passengers at Tel Aviv's Lod Airport. Twenty-four people died and seventy-two were wounded. The trial brought to the attention of the world a problem that has plagued Japanese at home for many years -- the problem of student violence.

    ??? students were ??? in ??? in May, nineteen-sixty-nine, against the continued Untied States ??? of Okinawa.

    For many of these students, the immediate cause of this demonstration or any other is relatively unimportant. The important thing for them is to demonstrate to upset the establishment by a show of force.

    The students are members of the Federation of Students' Councils or 'Zengakuren', an extremist group deriving from the Japanese Communist Party. Despite police retaliation, the riots increased in intensity -- riots against anything. Against the American H-bomb and Peking's H-bomb -- against, and for, the Soviet Union and the Japanese government.

    The real problem is claimed to be in the universities themselves.

    In September nineteen-sixty-nine, left-wing students barricaded themselves into Tokyo's Waseda University -- one of sixty universities taken over by extremists that year.

    The government finally stepped in and assumed the power to control universities directly if the trouble went too far. The situation cooled.

    But world attention was again focused on Japan's problem in March nineteen-seventy, when sword-waving members of the fanatical Japanese student 'Red Army' hijacked an aircraft to South Korea. After some tense hours, the passengers were finally released and the students flew on to North Korea. But again the trouble abroad was echoed in greater intensity by trouble at home.

    For this demonstration by students in late nineteen-seventy-one, twelve-thousand Tokyo police were on duty. Hundreds were wounded, bringing the total for the past few years of thousands. One officer was killed by student petrol-homes.

    Incidents like this, with its cost not only in terms of lives but also in millions of pounds-worth of damage, have forced the Japanese government to re-think the old law of nineteen-sixty-nine. It has tried and failed four times in the past to introduce tougher student-controls.

    But after four years of rioting, the Government feels it can now control the extremists.

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