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Hatta Shūzō and Pure Anarchism in Interwar Japan by John Crump

By John Crump

This is a pioneering examine of eastern 'pure anarchism' among the wars interested in its central theoretician, Hatta Shuzo.

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Sample text

Persecution of the anarchists did not cease when the 'winter period' came to an end. Among other forms of continuing oppression, public meetings were still frequently ordered to close, issues of journals were often banned from sale and employers were invariably prompted to sack known activists. But the blanket suppression of all activity, which had previously been enforced, now became impossible to maintain. Nor were anarchists the only ones to find themselves with more room than previously in which to manoeuvre and one result of this changing environment was the emergence of a union movement.

The rampant inflation particularly affected the price of the staple food, rice. This brought no benefits to most of the rice-growing farmers because much of the crop had to be handed over to landlords as rent in kind and the rest was often sold in advance in order to raise the money needed to pay taxes. When such farmers later came to buy back rice for consumption, they were confronted by the same relentlessly 36 Hatta Shitzii and Pure Anarchism rising prices as afflicted working class families, the fishing communities and other non-farming sectors.

Eventually 26 were brought to trial in December 1910 and 12 of these were hanged in January 1911. Among those executed was Kotoku, and also others who were certainly innocent of the charges brought against them. The remaining 14 defendants received long prison sentences (12 of them life terms). The round-up of1910 signalled the start of the 'winter period' for anarchism inJapan, which was to continue until the end of the First World War. During the 'winter period' the state suppressed all anarchist and socialist organisations and kept a careful watch on those whom it regarded as infected with 'dangerous thoughts'.

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