THE leading force behind the Japanese riots which led to the cancellation of President Eisenhower’s trip to Japan was the Zengakuren, the national union of Japanese students, which is supported by student fees. Like many Japanese groups, it is divided into several factions. Two of the smallest of these, the Trotskyites and the Communists, are confusingly called “main current” and “anti-main current,” while the bulk of the students are leftist and neutralist in sympathy, as Japanese students have consistently been for the last decade.

Since its successful demonstrations against the Diet, the Zengakuren has taken some tumbles. The strike at the Miike Colliery in Omuta seemed a logical new scene of operations for the students, who had just overthrown a Prime Minister and waved off a President. On July 22, 300 students charged 500 police at Omuta and lost. The miners, already maneuvering a truce to a strike which involved 16,000 picketers, 10,000 police, trench warfare, and sea battles, sent the students home, while the miners’ wives added insult to injury by saying that the students looked like rich men’s sons and would be the miners’ enemies after graduation.

In spite of many pamphlets, the students have not been able to establish Michiko Kamba, a Tokyo University coed who was killed in the riots, as a Japanese Joan of Arc. Her father, who had previously written a bitter article, “I Lost My Daughter to the Zengakuren,” returned to the student side, and two doctors, inexperienced in post-mortems (one of them an antigovernment, Socialist member of the Diet), were found to give a report that she had been first beaten and then strangled by the police. But the one million yen collected in one day at the scene of her death was appropriated by the Communists and never returned. Since then, the official report by an experienced and fair Tokyo court that she was crushed to death by the mobbing students themselves has been generally considered true.

The most important failure of the students was their inability to rally student rioters to protest against the Japanese Supreme Court decision in favor of local ordinances controlling disorderly conduct during demonstrations. The Supreme Court is a post-war innovation in Japanese legal procedure, insisted on by SCAP; in a sense this was its first major test. But the recent ruling to the effect that the right to free speech and assembly does not include the right to burn police cars has been widely accepted in Japan. Even the expected Socialist protest that the ruling was illegal seems to have been made only pro forma. In the future it will be possible for the Japanese police to take a strong stand against mob violence.

The Security Treaty

While the Zengakuren is predominantly leftist and neutralist, it is far from being Communist, except for its hard-core party liners. According to a recent Japanese study of the Zengakuren, the high point of Soviet influence was 1955 to 1956. Since that period, Soviet treatment of Hungary, and then of Boris Pasternak, has pretty much canceled admiration for Russia. Students indignantly deny that they received any money whatsoever for taking part in the demonstrations and point out that it was the conservative party which openly hired people to stand along the roads and wave a greeting when Eisenhower was scheduled to visit Japan. Students are also amazed at the reports of American correspondents that the students took part in the demonstrations against the Security Treaty without knowing what was in the treaty, for its terms were published repeatedly in student newspapers and in the regular Japanese dailies.

Japanese students insist vigorously that they are not anti-American, and the American visitor may walk hospitably along in a demonstrating group, while the snake dances weave in and out and the radio car blats out leftist marching tunes. The American tourists come to gape at the processions under the auspices of the Japan Tourist Bureau at a bargain price of 2000 yen, the same as that for the “Famous Courtesan Tour.”

Japanese students argue that in their objection to the Japanese-American Security Treaty they were honoring the Japanese Constitution and many well-remembered statements of General Douglas MacArthur. Both the Constitution and the general are interpreted as guaranteeing that Japan shall never again become a military power. Students argue, too, that America has placed itself in a hypocritical position by asking the Japanese to ratify a security treaty which, in intent, if not in actual wording, violates the Constitution which America insisted the Japanese agree to at the end of World War II.

However much one may admire Japanese students for reawakening the consciences of Japan and America on these difficult points, considerable reservations about their behavior remain. During the rioting, a common cry was “Kill Kishi,”but students say that they never meant to kill Kishi. Yet they refuse to regard the chanting of such murderous slogans as irresponsible action.

Again, though students, professors, and reporters repeatedly criticize in conversations police violence during the riots, pictorial summaries by leftist photographers and writers show, almost exclusively, student violence. Foreign observers sympathetic to the students report that nowhere else in the world would the police have shown so much tolerance.

Students argue that violence was necessary because of the “tyranny of the majority” — a favorite argument. The notion of tyranny of the majority is especially hard for the Westerner to comprehend, though it has some precedent in the widespread Japanese tradition of always trying to reach unanimous agreement before taking action. But, as Japanese intellectuals and lettists interpret this doctrine, tyranny of the majority justifies any Japanese minority in taking violent action to prevent any majority measure which the minority happens to oppose.

Restless youth

Japanese youth in general is restless, with a large “mambo tribe” of guitar-carrying jazzsters and a new “thunder tribe” of drunken auto speedsters. The suicide rate for youth is the highest in the world.

Employment prospects for college students were excellent this year except for graduates in literature, where standards of admission and performance are poor. Next year, government student allowances, I which apply to 214,000 students in high schools, colleges, and graduate schools, will be substantially increased. Prospects are good for an increase in teachers’ salaries at government institutions; doubtless, private universities will follow their example.

The influence of teachers

But left-wing and neutralist sentiment among Japanese students and educators is by no means a merely economic matter. The high school teachers are dominated by a union, the Nikkyoso, sometimes called the Union for the Opposition, since it never supports the government. Its many demonstrations reveal that, in addition to requesting a $10 a month raise in salary, it is objecting to proposed efficiency ratings in which such items as “character traits” and “Does the teacher hold correct beliefs in education?” are to be marked A, B, C, D, or E. The Nikkyoso is also protesting against the partial revival of the pre-war “moral lessons” as once again inculcating a militaristic patriotism.

University teachers do not belong to any dominant union, though in general they are leftist and neutralist. University students call left-wing professors progressive and right-wing professors, especially if they demand classroom work, reactionary. Conversation with professors soon reveals a deep feeling of guilt over Japanese wartime behavior toward China, which explains better than economics the widespread desire of these intellectuals for closer relations with Red China.

Continued questioning of professors soon brings to the surface a standard interpretation of Japan as a country of modern feudalism, one in which violent revolts against the government are the only means for the intellectual minority to express itself, just as Japanese farmers used to revolt under the feudalism of the Tokugawa shogunate. The professors admit the danger to parliamentary institutions in Japan. But they encouraged their students to take part in the demonstrations.

The press goes along

Besides the universities, the Asahi newspaper, which has a circulation of two to three million and boasts of its impartiality, was one of the most irresponsible advocates of violence during the riots. Since that time it has changed its tune, alarmed at the growing tendency of the demonstrations to get out of hand. One of its top editors later tried to justify its advocacy of violence by saying, rather lamely, that in Japanese the word for violence can mean either “pushing” or “hitting,”and what the Asahi meant was “pushing.” This fine distinction did not get across at the time, and indeed, Chief Justice Tanaka of the Japanese Supreme Court has declared that Japanese intellectuals are fundamentally hostile to law.

Equally disturbing was the policy of the Asahi, and of the other Japanese newspapers which have English-language editions, of publishing widely different accounts of the same incident for their Japanese and their English-speaking readers. When criticized by Japanese readers for this practice, the Japanese newspapers ignored all complaints, though their editors admit privately that they distorted and softened reports in their English-language editions in order not to lose subscribers. One such newspaper was even faced with a revolt by its young reporters, who had been disgusted by the falsifications in its English-language news columns.

There is a close link between Japanese reporters, publishers, writers, and critics; they meet together frequently at social functions and in their literary clubs. The largest and most influential of the Japanese literary clubs has for some years had a provisional secretary, a Communist, who has refused to resign, even though the appointment was only a temporary one, and who is the public spokesman of the organization. Though this club has as its main principle a policy of complete neutrality and is in Japan a valiant defender of freedom of expression, the provisional secretary freely issues statements against “U.S. imperialism" while refusing to take any stand against Russia’s treatment of Boris Pasternak or against Russian imprisonment of Hungarian writers.

Many writers in the organization are beginning to protest against antiAmerican statements, but the provisional secretary speaks on. American and European intellectuals, in recent months, have increasingly expressed their inability to understand the reasoning of Japanese intellectuals.

Unfortunately, during this crucial period, in which contacts with Japanese students and intellectuals became more important than ever before, the number of American cultural centers was decreased from fourteen to ten, all the centers dropped being in outlying districts of Japan, where they are most needed.

The American exchange program

The U.S. Educational Commission in Japan continues its effective program of exchanging Fulbright lecturers, scholars, and students. Since 1952, 2000 Japanese have studied in the United States and 360 Americans have come to Japan. This program is universally respected and praised in Japan.

The American-sponsored meetings at Nagano, which brought together for several weeks American writers such as Faulkner and the critic Blackmur, and many famous Japanese writers and scholars, have been allowed to lapse for two years, first by inadvertence, and then by fumbling. Now the program may be taken up again, but dropping Nagano for two years gave many Japanese the impression that, aside from the Fulbright program, the American cultural effort in Japan lacks any sure sense of purpose.