Thursday, March 5, 2015

Interesting new content at Japan Focus: "Tokyo 1960: Days of Rage & Grief: Hamaya Hiroshi’s Photos of the Anti-Security-Treaty Protests" by Justin Jesty

Image borrowed from Japan Focus.

In May and June of 1960 Japan was rocked by some of the largest protests in its history. They erupted over the passage of a revised security treaty between Japan and the United States, titled the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security (Sōgo Kyōryoku Oyobi Anzen Hoshō Jōyaku), and have become known as the “Anpo” protests from the Japanese shorthand for that treaty. Hundreds of thousands of people came onto the streets day after day, ten million signed petitions against the treaty, thousands were injured, and one person was killed. The protests forced cancellation of a planned visit to Japan by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, toppled the conservative prime minister Kishi Nobusuke, and have come to be recognized as the most significant political crisis of the postwar period.

This unit introduces photographs taken at the peak of the Anpo protests by photographer Hamaya Hiroshi. Sympathetic to the protestors, Hamaya’s photographs allow us to see a great deal about the long-simmering tensions the postwar military alliance with the U.S. engendered within Japan. Since 1951, when it was first signed, the security treaty had been harshly criticized by those who saw it as exposing Japan to unnecessary dangers in the cold war while undermining the principles of peace and democracy. The prospect of the treaty’s revision and renewal pitted a conservative government, intent on protecting the alliance, against a loose coalition of opposition forces whose aspiration was that Japan become a neutral and unarmed nation—a decisive break with U.S. cold-war policy, and with its own militarist past.

Hamaya, a well-established freelance photographer, was the author of a number of photo books. Soon after the 1960 protests, he became the first Japanese contributor to the Magnum Photos collective.1 As a subject, the protests are an outlier in his oeuvre, which is otherwise dominated by nature photography and ethnographic studies of life in Japan’s hinterlands. Hamaya’s interest in Anpo was driven primarily by an awareness of the momentousness of the events and a personal sympathy with the aims of the protests. His photographic record begins May 20 and ends on June 22, covering the period when the protests were at their height. It is estimated he took 2,600 photos altogether, which he narrowed down to 203 in preparation for publication as a book. This selection was narrowed further to 138 pictures, and the resulting book—titled Ikari to kanashimi no kiroku (A Record of Rage and Grief)—was published by Kawade Shobō Shinsha in August 1960. Some of Hamaya’s photographs were also published in the French news magazine Paris Match and the Japanese photography journal Camera Mainichi. This unit draws from the pool of 203 photographs.

Read and see more at the source: Justin Jesty, "Tokyo 1960: Days of Rage & Grief: Hamaya Hiroshi’s Photos of the Anti-Security-Treaty Protests", The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 13, Issue 8, No. 3, March 2, 2015.

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