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Japan Station 25: The Japanese Red Army (Dr. Patricia Steinhoff)

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On This Episode of Japan Station

On this episode of the Japan Station podcast we are talking about the Japanese Red Army (Nihon Sekigun, 日本赤軍), a Japanese militant communist group established in 1971 with the intent of overthrowing the Japanese government and taking down Japan’s monarchy.

About Dr. Patricia Steinhoff

Dr. Patricia Steihoff is one of the world’s leading experts on the topic of Japanese social movements. With a career spanning more than five decades, Dr. Steinhoff has researched a wide range of topics, including the Japanese justice system, Aum Shinrikyo, and the radical left groups that emerged out of the Japanese protest cycles of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Her work on the Japanese militant group known as the Japanese Red Army is particularly comprehensive and has been extremely important for shedding light on the topic. Dr. Steinhoff retired from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in Honolulu at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

Topics Discussed

  • How Dr. Steinhoff became interested in researching the Japanese Red Army
  • The phenomenon of tenkō (転向, literally, changing direction)
  • The 1972 terrorist attach on Lod Airport in Israel
  • What it was like going to Israel to interview Kozo Okamoto, the only Japanese Red Army member to survive the Lod Airport attack
  • What exactly the Japanese Red Army was
  • What led to the creation of the Japanese Red Army
  • The role of Fusako Shigenobu
  • Some of the guerrilla tactics the Japanese Red Army would use
  • The 1970 plane hijacking that would result in the “Yodogo Exiles”
  • The student protests that occurred in Japan during the 1960s and ’70s and how authorities in Japan reacted to them
  • What became of the Japanese Red Army
  • The impact the Japanese Red Army had on Japan and its judicial system
  • And much more!

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Links, Videos, Etc.

The book Dr. Steinhoff mentions about the group that hijacks a plane to go to North Korea is called Destiny: The Secret Operations of the Yodogo Exiles. You can purchase it via the link below.

If you’d like to learn more about the relationship between social movements and Japan’s judicial system, you may want to check out Dr. Steinhoff’s book, Going to Court to Change Japan: Social Movements and the Law in Contemporary Japan. You can get it via the link below.

Coing to Court to Change Japan

The speech in the video below–titled Serendipity & Sociology: Five Decades of Studying Japanese Society–was given by Dr. Steinhoff in April of 2019 shortly before she retired. The speech is a wonderful look back at her life and career.

Special Thanks

Opening/Closing song: Oedo Controller (大江戸コントローラー) by Yunomi featuring Toriena (Used with permission from Yunomi)
To listen to more of Yunomi’s music, check out his Soundcloud page or YouTube channel.

Japan Station cover art: Provided by Erik R.

Featured image: Japankyo

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