Organized Panel Session
In the aftermath of the climactic defeat of the 1960 Anpo protests, and then again in the wake of New Left protests in the late 1960s and early 1970s, significant numbers of Japanese students, activists, artists, critics, and ultimately, many ordinary citizens, increasingly came to identify themselves as “non-political” (non-pori)—a term that is still widely used in Japan today. However, despite embracing this “non-pori” label, many of these people continued to act, write, and express themselves in ways which were profoundly political. This paper argues that by calling themselves “non-pori,” many Japanese people hoped to distance themselves from a particular notion of “politics,” namely, a brand of “Old Left” politics that was perceived to be rigidly ideological, strictly hierarchical, and ultimately, overly coercive upon the individual. While many people truly did abandon overt political activism, those who remained politically active while embracing the politics of non-politics sought to recast their political action in terms that seemed more respectful of ideological differences, individual self-expression, and more “traditional” community ties. This shift, I argue, helped foster new types of social movements including residents’ and environmental movements, and allowed more space for women to take part in political activism, but also limited the scope of these movements in important ways.