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Peace in Vietnam! Beheiren: Transnational Activism and GI Movement in Postwar Japan 1965-1974.

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Title:Peace in Vietnam! Beheiren: Transnational Activism and GI Movement in Postwar Japan 1965-1974.
Authors:Shiratori, Noriko
Contributors:Political Science (department)
transnational activism
anti-Vietnam War movement
GI movement
show 1 morepostwar Japan
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Date Issued:Aug 2018
Publisher:University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Abstract:Beheiren (Betonamu ni heiwa wo shimin rengō [Citizen’s Committee for Peace in Vietnam]) was launched by a handful of postwar intellectuals in Tokyo when the United States started bombing North Vietnam in February 1965. The widespread presence of US bases throughout Japan allowed American soldiers to be transported and carry out missions from Japan and (then) American occupied-Okinawa to fight Vietnamese people. Japan was a launching pad for America’s war in Southeast Asia.
Hundreds of loosely formed Beheiren groups emerged on campuses, in towns and cities across Japan. The emergence of American deserters in the late 1960s transformed Beheiren into a transnational underground operation that sheltered American deserters and moved them out to Sweden and France in cooperation with the former Soviet Union and Resistance groups in Europe. By 1970, while getting the deserters out of Japan became harder because of the increased involvement of US intelligence agents, GI uprisings occurred in every major US base worldwide. American activists started coming to Japan and occupied Okinawa to connect with Beheiren to get GIs out of the military system. Protesting America’s war during the Cold War under the contradiction and dilemma involving Japan’s Peace Constitution and the US-Japan Security Treaty, the central issue of the Beheiren movement was fundamentally transnational. All the people, including deserters, antiwar GIs, young Japanese and American activists, ordinary citizens of Japan who sheltered American deserters in their homes, were thrown into transnational activism through their globalized experiences.
This study attempted to paint a holistic picture of Beheiren. The theoretical concepts used in this study includes the political process model, nonviolent direct action, especially in the form of civil disobedience, a generational model of continuity and change, and rooted cosmopolitans. Through archives, qualitative content analysis, participant observation, and interviews with the remaining key activists of Beheiren, this study found that, for the past half century, former Beheiren activists have been quietly continuing grassroots transnational activism to this day. They maintain ‘loose’ civic networks and skepticism toward “power.” These elements stem from keen observation and the experiences of the key actors growing up in the age of Imperial Japan. They remained firm in their belief that the future would support the rights of the individual to refuse to kill and be killed in the name of any state.
Description:Ph.D. Thesis. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 2018.
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Political Science

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