Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-5c569c448b-gctlb Total loading time: 0.235 Render date: 2022-07-03T21:52:21.362Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Quantitative Characteristics of Popular Disturbances in Post-Occupation Japan (1952–1960)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2011


Contemporary Japan has been consistently portrayed as a highly integrated society. Countless sociological works have argued that its mechanism of value consensus and social solidarity works efficiently and extensively. According to Ezra Vogel, for example, Japan is essentially a society where rapid transition has taken place in an orderly manner without much social disorganization. For Nakane Chie, Japanese society is composed of internally cohesive and vertically structured groups which tend to stabilize its system.

Copyright © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 1978

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


This study has been supported at various stages by the Foreign Area Fellowship Program, the School of Social Sciences Research Committee at La Trobe University, and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.

1 Japan's New Middle Class, Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1963Google Scholar.

2 Japanese Society, Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1970Google Scholar.

3 It is striking indeed that when Sheiner, Irwin (“The Mindful Peasant: Sketches of a Study of Rebellion,” Journal of Asian Studies, XXXII (1973), pp. 581–82)Google Scholar reviewed literature on peasant uprisings in Tokugawa Japan, he found no work on that subject published in English since Hugh Borton's study in 1938. Similarly, there are very few items on Japanese popular disorders in the annotated bibliography of doctoral dissertations compiled by Shulman, Frank J., Japan and Korea (Chicago: American Library Assoc., 1970)Google Scholar. However, the situation seems to be changing in recent years. The July-Oct 1975 issue (vol. x) of the Journal of Asian and African Studies is devoted entirely to the analysis of modernization and the resultant political and social strains in Japanese society. Also indicative of the new trends that have recently surfaced in the academic community is a series of workshops on “Historical Dimensions of Conflict and Dissent in Japan,” organized by Tetsuo Najita at the University of Chicago, under the Joint Committee of Japanese Studies.

4 This definition reflects past studies in the field, including Tilly, Charles & Rule, James, Measuring Political Upheaval (Princeton: Center of Int'l Studies Research Monograph 19, 1965)Google Scholar and Gurr, Ted Robert, “Comparative Study of Civil Strife” (in Gurr, & Graham, Hugh [eds.], Violence in America New York: New American Library, 1969)Google Scholar.

5 See Gerth, H. H. & Mills, C. Wright (trans, and eds.), From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1958), p. 78Google Scholar.

6 Ibid.

7 Constructing Social Theories (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968), p. 217.Google Scholar

8 Revolution: A Redefinition,” Political Science Quarterly, LXXVII (1962), pp. 3653Google Scholar.

9 This criterion is very close to the one C. Tilly and his associates used in their analysis of collective violence in France; see, for example, Tilly, C. & Snyder, David, “Hardship and Collective Violence in France, 1830–1960,” American Sociological Review, XXXVII (1972), p. 522Google Scholar.

10 It is necessary to make a conceptual distinction between instability and popular disturbance. The notion of instability involves a change in the government or regime as a necessary component; popular disturbance, on the other hand, may invite governmental response but not necessarily result in governmental change. Instability can be a consequence of disturbance, but this is not always the case. In fact, one may argue that in postwar Japan the only disturbance that brought about a change in the national cabinet was the anti-Japan-U.S. Security Treaty movement of 1960, which did eventually force Prime Minister Kishi to resign.

11 A separate study is under way to investigate, on the basis of a time-series model, fluctuations in popular protest in Tokyo.

12 Three steps were taken to collect data on popular disturbances. First, disturbance cases were identified by detailed examination of two editions of a national newspaper (the Tokyo and Osaka editions of Asahi Shinbun) and three regional newspapers (Hokkaidō Shinbun in Sapporo, Chūbu Nippon Shinbun in Nagoya, and Nishi Nippon Shinbun in Fukuoka)—all published at the regional centers of the nation. Then, for each incident thus identified, there was a check of a prefectural newspaper from one month before through one month after that outbreak. At the third step, disturbances discovered in the second step were examined by studying a newspaper of the prefecture in which they broke out.

The local newspapers used for the last two steps were: Tōō Nippō, Iwate Shinpō, Iwate Nippō, Ka-hoku Shinpō, Fukushima Minpō, Fukushima Minyō, Yamagata Shinbun, Akita Sakigake Shinpō; Iharaki, Tochigi Shinbun, Jōmō Shinbun, Chiba Shinbun, Saitama Shinbun, Kanagawa Shinbun, Shimotsuke Shinbun; Shinano Mainishi Sbinbun, Hokkoku Shinbun, Niigata Nippō, Yamanashi Nichinichi Shinbun, Yamanashi Jiji Shinbun, Gifu Nichinichi Shinbun, Kita Nippon Shinbun, Shizuoka Shinbun, Fukui Shinbun; Kyoto Shinbun, Shiga Nichinichi Shinbun, Yamato Taimusu, Ise Shinbun, Kōbe Shinbun, Wakayama Shinbun; Chūgoku Shinbun, Shimane Shinbun, Nihonkai Shinbun, Sanyō Shinbun, Bōchō Shinbun; Kōchi Shinbun, Ehime Shinbun, Tokushima Shinbun, Shikoku Shinbun; Kumamoto Nichinichi Shinbun, Otta Gōdō Shinbun, Minami Nippon Shinbun, Hyūga Nichinichi Shinbun, Saga Shinbun, Nagasaki Nichinichi Shinbun. Two other national newspapers, Mainichi Shinbun (both Tokyo and Osaka editions) and Yomiuri Shinbun (Tokyo edition) were also used extensively.

13 Tilly, C. et al. , The Rebellious Century, 1830–1930 (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1975), pp. 56, 69CrossRefGoogle Scholar

14 Ibid, p. 210.

15 Hyakushā; Ikki Sōgō Nenpyō (Comprehensive chronological tables of peasant uprisings), Tokyo: Sanichi Shobo, 1971.Google Scholar

16 The intensity measure has been obtained by using complex steps of scale construction. In essence, it is based on factor scores obtained by running a principal component analysis of three variables: the number of human injuries, the extent of property damage, and the number of arrests. The degree of property damage has been coded on a 10-point scale, ranging from very serious damage (e.g., destruction of a factory) to very slight damage (e.g., breaking of windows). For a more comprehensive discussion of each measure in the equation, see my Ph.D dissertation (University of Pittsburgh, 1973), “Equalization and Turbulence: The Case of the American Occupation of Japan,” pp.60–86.

17 In the face of the growth of petroleum and the decline of coal as an energy resource, the Mitsui Coal Mining Company declared it imperativeto implement what they called “industrial rationalization” by executing a plan intended to dismissabout 6,000 mine workers. In confronting the management, the union was divided into two groups: one, the militant wing, admitted no compromise; the other was an anti-strike group eager to attain an early settlement of the dispute. Ōmuta City (Fukuoka Prefecture), Arao City (Kumamoto Prefecture), and adjacent areas in Northern Kyūshū were the scenes of violence and police intervention for more than a year. As outside forces—not only union members mobilized from all over the country, but also strike-breakers and violent gangs hired by the management—participated, the disorders often involved bloodshed. At the peak of the confrontation, more than 1,000 people from all camps were reported to have been involved in direct violent conflicts. Some coal miners’ wives formed an organization backing the militant union, and played important roles in various phases of the disturbance. As a result of the entire strife, one person was killed, 858 injured, and 142 arrested.

18 Heavy reliance was placed on the categories that newspaper reporters used in describing the incidents of disturbance. In the process of coding the data, it was assumed that those reporting a disturbance gave a label to a collectivity when it was composed of people who shared identifiable characteristics and when it had a reasonable degree of organization; it is, of course, a separate issue how participants in the disturbances classified themselves. As far as participants were defined by newspapers as labor union members, it is here assumed that they participated in a disorder qua labor union members. In cases of reporters providing double characterization of a group (e.g., unionized unemployed Korean workers), the group is counted as belonging to two categories. It should also bḙ emphasized that items in the table are not mutually exclusive. For instance, if a disturbance involved a clash between a student organization and a right-wing organization, each of them was given one point. Many disturbances registered more than one protest group; see note to Table iv.

19 “Interindustry Propensity to Strike—an International Comparison” in Kornhauser, Arthur et al. (eds.), Industrial Conflict (New York.: McGraw-Hill, 1954), pp. 191–93.Google Scholar

20 Though their data are based on strikes rather than violent disturbances, their theoretical explanation is not confined specifically to strike activities, but covers conflict behavior in general.

21 Mass Society (New York: Free Press, 1959), pp. 3233. 212–23.Google Scholar

22 Note 13 above.

23 Parsons, & Shils, Edward A., Toward a General Theory of Action (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1951), p. 81CrossRefGoogle Scholar

24 Ibid.

25 Besides Parsons's (n. 23 above) pattern variables, see, for example, Levy's Modernization and the Structure of Societies (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1966)Google Scholar and Gouldner's, Cosmopolitans and Locals: Toward an Analysis of Latent Social Roles—I,” Administrative Science Quarterly, II (1957), pp. 281306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

26 More recently, the so-called citizens’ movements (shimin undō), which have gained momentum since the mid-1960s, also tend to concentrate on relatively particularistic issues (e.g., community services, neighborhood facilities, property rights, and pollution in the immediate environment), though these movements are composed of very “modern” types.

27 For a full report, see my Labor Reform and Industrial Turbulence: The Case of the American Occupation of Japan,” Pacific Sociological Review, XX (1977), pp. 492514.Google Scholar

28 Broom, and Selznick, , Sociology, 5th ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), p. 222.Google Scholar

28 Parties and Politics in Contemporary Japan (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1962), pp. 125–53.Google Scholar

30 The so-called mainstream faction of Zengaku-ren (National Federation of Student Governments) played the most militant role, invading the Official Residence of the Prime Minister on May 20 and, crucially, the premises of the Diet on June 15. The Diet invasion resulted in one death and more than 1,000 injuries. This incident was also the key factor in the government's cancellation of the invitation extended to American President Eisenhower to visit Japan. Other unprecedented incidents included the nationwide stoppage of transportation systems on June 4, and the unionists' and students' encirclement of the American President's Press Secretary Hagerty at Tokyo International Airport on June 11.

31 Specifically, at the local scene, on June 4, about 2,000 workers sat on the railroad tracks, seized trains, and paralyzed the National Railways system at Ōgaki Station (Gifu Prefecture). On 15 June, 1,000 labor union members picketing at Hamamatsu Station (Shizuoka Prefecture) clashed with 100 railway security officers, 12 of whom were injured. On June 21 at nearby Atami Station, similar confrontations resulted in the injury of the stationmaster.

32 An example of these disturbances: the Mori Primary School Incident, which left the small village of Niyodo-mura in turmoil. The disorder began as the teachers of the school participated in the 15 September 1958 nationwide strike organized by the Teachers' Union to resist the government plan to institutionalize the evaluation of teachers' work performance. In the next month, the militant-conservative PTA members counteracted by shutting the teachers out and organizing their own classes in the school building. Arguing that no teacher should carry on a strike of any kind, they made no concession to the claim by the village board of education that the seizure of the school was illegal. The Union sent some 300 “organizers” to the village, the anti-Union forces in the prefecture also gathered there; skirmishes and scuffles erupted repeatedly between the two factions. On December 15, the Chairman of the Union came to the village from Tokyo with other Union officials; while he was holding a meeting with local teachers in a high school classroom in adjacent Akawa Village, 200 parents stormed the school and 80 of them invaded the room. They beat the teachers with chairs, and threw desks at them; 16 teachers were injured, and the Chairman was temporarily blinded.

33 The Occupation authorities abolished the Special Police Division, which had served as the internal intelligence machinery of the military government; nullified the Law for Maintenance of Public Peace, which had been the legal foundation for suppressing radicals and liberals; purged from public office those police officers who had played significant roles in arresting or torturing these “undesirable” people; and institutionalized the decentralized police system based on autonomous control of the municipal government over the local police.

34 The abolition of the municipal police and its absorption into national police paved the way for the recentralization of the police functions. The Public Security Investigation Agency was established to collect information about individuals and groups engaged in activities it regarded as poten-tially subversive. On the legal side, the Subversive Activities Law was passed, making possible the suppression of anti-governmental forces. These measures certainly invited verbal criticism and physical protests from socialists, communists, labor unions, students, and other civil forces that maintained the anti-conservative position.

35 One of the largest disturbances along these lines was the Suita Rebellion, which swept several satellite cities of Osaka on the eve of the second anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. After the anti-war rally, held in Toyonaka City in the evening of 24 June 1952, about 500 workers, students, and Koreans marched to the nearby Ishibashi Station late at night and forced the stationmaster to arrange a special train for them. The rebels alighted at Hattori Station and seized Suita Marshaling Yard of the National Railways. Early next morning, they attacked four police stations in Suita City—throwing Molotov cocktails, stones, and bottles at the chasing police forces. Finally, the demonstrators converged on Suita Station, ran into crowded trains, threw Molotov cocktails at the police, and opened fire on them. At least 21 people were injured, and 183 were arrested. Similar incidents involving attacks against police stations broke out often, in different parts of the country, from May through July of that year.

36 E.g., see note 27 above, as well as my Surplus Value, Unemployment and Industrial Turbulence: A Statistical Application of the Marxian Model to Post-War Japan,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, XIX (1975), pp. 2547Google Scholar and Land Reform and Agrarian Disturbance: The Case of the American Occupation of Japan,” Australian Journal of Politics and History, XXII (1976), pp. 5161Google Scholar.

Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Quantitative Characteristics of Popular Disturbances in Post-Occupation Japan (1952–1960)
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Quantitative Characteristics of Popular Disturbances in Post-Occupation Japan (1952–1960)
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Quantitative Characteristics of Popular Disturbances in Post-Occupation Japan (1952–1960)
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *