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Description - Against the State by David E. Apter

Reconstructing the dramatic struggle surrounding the building of the New Tokyo (Narita) International Airport near Sanrizuka, this scrutiny of modern protest politics dispels the myth of corporate Japan's unassailable success. While sensitive to the specific events they describe, the authors provide analyses of broader contemporary issues-the sources of violence in an orderly society and the problems of democratic theory in an institutional setting.Narita Airport, the largest single government project in Japan, has been the scene of intense conflict over what might be called the unfinished business of Japan as number one. Since 1965, small groups of farmers have been fighting to protect their land, first from the bulldozers, then from the environmental damage of a modern airport. They were joined in the battle by militants from New Left sects, students, and other protesters representing peace, antinuclear, and antipollution issues. Using field observation, in-depth interviewing, and first-hand experience drawn from living in the "fortresses" surrounding the airport, the authors examine the conflict and violence that ensued. They describe the confrontations from the point of view of each group of participants, pinpointing weaknesses in the Japanese political and bureaucratic systems that prolonged and heightened the struggle: the lack of effectivedue process, inadequate consultative mechanisms outside elite circles, and the failure of local government to represent local issues.In a broad adaptation of their findings, Apter and Sawa show that the problems of the Narita situation are also endemic to other industrialized countries. Their discussion of violent protest in advanced societies explores how it evolves, who is caught up in it, and the ways that governments respond. Finally, they identify the limitations of contemporary social science theories in addressing in human terms such volcanic eruptions. To overcome these shortcomings they combine several approaches--structural, experiential, and functional--and devise alternative ways to enter the day-today lives of the people studied."Against the State" in no way diminishes the magnitude of Japan's accomplishments. However, the authors find in the Narita protest evidence of that country's still unfelt need to address its most abstract and pressing moral concerns. Their book raises important questions about the nature of extra-institutional protest and authority in modern states.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674009219
ISBN-10: 0674009215
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 156mm x 15mm)
Pages: 283
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 1-Jul-1986
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - Against the State by David E. Apter

Book Reviews - Against the State by David E. Apter

US Kirkus Review » In 1966, when the Japanese government chose rural Narita as the site for a new Tokyo international airport, local farmers protested the loss of their land, livelihood, and very way of life. Leftist militants politicized the struggle; violence escalated; the Sanrizuka crossroads became "a metaphor of government oppression" and heroic opposition; and, while the world blinked at monolithic, conformist Japan in disarray, the airport was held up for more than a decade - a single runway was opened in 1978, and the militants' watchtowers still ring the site. This is the story that Apter and Saws lay out in all its complexity - as an illustration of both the social costs of Japan's economic success and of "the problem of violent protest in democratic societies." (A third, subsidiary theme is theoretical - the need to combine functional, structural, and phenomenological approaches.) Readers, however, may take a more limited view of the Sanrizuka movement - with no less interest. "From the first, the confrontation. . . reminded farmers of their radical inheritance" - dating back to pre-Meiji days, and resurgent in the 1920s and '30s as "an authentic expression of anti-commercial, anti-bourgeois, and anti-capitalist principles," with a feudal or rightist bias and roots in "both hamlet and household defending themselves against outside interventions." The militants, on the other hand, saw the Samrizuka struggle as a sweeping attack on the state. "The airport is a symbol of Japanese imperialism, created by the needs of Japanese expansionism and the remilitarization that goes with it. Farmers are being driven off the land to create an industrial reserve. . . ." Among the public, when the movement began, there was "widespread concern about the moral quality of Japanese life in relation to Japan's role in the world." Against this background, Apter and Sawa trace the immediate and spontaneous response; the mobilization of households on the hamlet system; the emergence of leaders (the foremost, an atypical Christian lay-preacher/artist, is a story in himself); direct action tactics - and public notice; student involvement and the enlistment of diverse leftist sects; pitched battles and arrests; and the fall-off - with farmers capitulating to realism, individual militants returning to society. Meanwhile: "The government's strategy has been to wait for the deflation of principles. Most officials now agree that it was confrontation that made the alliance effective precisely by enabling principles to be articulated." For students of Japan and students of protest movements: an accessible, suggestive interweave of verite close-ups and thematic probing. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - David E. Apter

David E. Apter is Henry J. Heinz II Professor of Comparative Political and Social Development, Yale University. Nagayo Sawa, who studied at Harvard, works for the United States-Japan Friendship Association in Japan.

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