Some of the groups in the following two categories offer the model for new
movements. They can be called “post-New Left” in the sense that they do not
intend to form a party in the Leninist sense. But at the same time, they sustain
the intension for a radical change of the status quo.
Anti-Capitalist Action (English page coexists). Notwithstanding a coalition
of various individuals of different tendencies, this group does not hesitate
direct action. This is the vanguard of anti-capitalist-globalization movement
Attac Japan (English page is under construction). This is the page of
those who agree with French ATTAC and are organizing a corresponding movement
in the context of Japan.
Kusasa wo Mamoru-kai （貧乏くささを守る会）. The
name means “The association to protect shabbiness.” The organ is
Binbo nin Shinbun (貧乏人新聞) - Poor Mens'
News. One understands: “to protect shabbiness” is equal to being
against capital's reckless development. This began as a student movement
in Hosei University in Tokyo, but has spread to various universities.
This group would not hesitate to engage in direct action. But, as their
pamphlets and website show, the group uses its great sense of humor as
The name means “The Association of the Pathetic.” This group played a crucial role in organizing activists and theorists in the mid-90s Tokyo downtown. It began as a private party at an apartment, which was announced at a public space like a train station. The gatherers simply spoke about and share their pathetic lives--just that. But it expanded involving various participants (activists and theorists included). It published several books, which also present a great spirit of laughter. It has the aspect of ‘non-work' movement in Japan's context.
Its Manifest says:
The Manifest of Dame-ren （ダメ連宣言）
The same dame--being pathetic--has various attributes and degrees.
Unable to keep the same job, unpopular to other sexes, unable to communicate with other people, basically good for nothing, etc--there are various ways of being dame in the world: from mild to severe symptoms.
There are many who aggravate their dame-ness, and shut themselves up. So it is crucial for them to gather.
Rather than trying to rise in the world, it should be better to accept the dame-ness and talk about it, how we ended up being so washed-out. Talking about our dame-ness to each other would give us a motivation to objectify our dame-ness; it could also shed light on the problems of contemporary society; finally it might reveal a moment for revolution.
Dame-ren runs toward organizing a network where even us dame people can live our dame lives, by having a meeting place and developing strategies to prevent our dame-ness from being over-aggravated.
Observing Japanese society today, it is very sad that the choices for the people with advanced dame-syndrome have been just cults, seminars for self-improvement, disappearance, suicide, and so on. Is there no hope for us dame people? Yes! In searching for real alternatives, there must be hope for us.
There must have been a primary decision-making at a certain moment of our lives: “I will never be dame”; “I will make myself important.” This fact seems to be mostly ignored. But the sense of status largely determines the courses of our lives, while we are losing creative and experimental spirit. Having a “normal life as others” and yet “being superior to others”--such a life goal is just too sad. Let us abandon the sense of authority and doubt the common value. Then something will happen.
The main activities of Dame-ren are basically mingling (koryu - 交流) and talking, besides rare special events.
We stress the importance of these activities, because, especially in the age when talking to people candidly is considered uncool, it is crucial to have a stubbornly honest attitude toward associating with others. And the talking we believe in is not a pedagogical, one-way oriented kind, but a mutually involving kind of talk that might induce a change. Such talk would create imagination as well as critical spirit, words and thoughts; it would be a means to recapture our lives from the mundane status quo.
The other day in my solitary apartment, I watched a TV commercial:
“I cannot tolerate such life any more.”
“Then, what kind of life would you like to have?”
If I were to answer, I would recommend the ‘mingling' life.
Participating in various events, talking to different people everyday--a life wherein new encounters and talks never cease would be quite exciting.
In repetition of the everyday talks and encounters, I am feeling a hot hunch of future life and revolution.
from Gendai Shiso Magazine 現代思想,
the issue of “Street Culture”, May 1997, Tokyo: Seido Sha).
The book, Dame-ren Sengen, was published from Sakuhin-sha, Tokyo, 1999.
I-ro-ha 9 （いろは９）. This group struggled
to sustain the dormitory of Tokyo University (Komaba Dormitory) that had once
been a free zone for students' activism. It documents the whole process of the
struggle that occurred in 1997.
Seinen-sensen （青年戦線）. http://www.jrcl.net/web/frme11b1a6.html
Space AK. It is the website for a multipurpose event space in Osaka.
It seeks to involve various theorists and activists of the left and form a wide
Minority Studies Group （マイノリティー研Q会）is
a group of students at Meiji Gakuin University. Its slogans exemplify the paradigm
of Japan's radicalism today, including Anti-Emperor, Anti-death-penalty, unity
with all minor positions, and so on.