Title: Nichidai toso / The struggle at Nihon University
Photographer(s): All University Joint Struggle Committee of Nihon University
Publisher(s): Godosangyo, Tokyo, Japan
Size: 22 x 29 cm
Print: Dai Nippon Printing Co.,Tokyo, Japan
Nation(s) and year(s) of Protest: Japan, 1969
The Nihon University student movement (Nichidai tōsō) of 1968-69 was one of the two main campus struggles in Japan. The Zenkyōtō (All Campus Joint Struggle Committee) formed at the college was all the more remarkable for its size — Nichidai was the largest university in Japan and the movement involved tens of thousands of students — but also because the movement was for the most part free of the bifurcation and sectarianism that exemplify so much of Japanese New Left movements in the 1960’s and beyond.
The campus struggles in Japan began in the mid-1960’s primarily over pragmatic issues of student fees and facilities, especially at private universities.
While the elite students at the latter sought a higher anti-imperialist, existentialist plain to define 1968-69 (although that movement also began over very specific issues with the medical student internship system), the Nihon University movement was incredibly clearcut. It was about money; vast amounts of university funds had “disappeared” and the tax authorities were investigating.
The students were understandably infuriated and some protested. When this was met with an indignant counterattack from the college, with the staff physically attacking the students and summoning both right-wing students and the police to disperse the demonstrators, the whole student body was united against the arrogance of their superiors. Barricades went up in multiple faculties in June. The movement came to a head with the students confronting their college chairman in a packed auditorium for several hours and getting him to agree that the university had been wrong to call in the riot police to combat the students when they were legitimately protesting at the malpractices.