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The Public Square and the Boundaries of the Commons
Politics and the Piazza
In 1939, as the war in Asia escalated and Japanese authorities increasingly repressed dissent at home, Marxist historian Hani Gorō published a small paperback about Michelangelo. The book opened with a photo and description of Michelangelo's "David." Hani portrayed the artist himself as an underdog fighter for justice like the subject of his sculpture. He described Florence's central Piazza della Signoria, where the "David" stands, in the following way:
This was the piazza [hiroba] where several thousand representatives of the citizen masses [shimin minshū] of the free city and independent state of Florence gathered in an atmosphere filled with energy to debate and pass resolutions and translate them to action, in order for the people of the nation [karera kokumin]to manage the politics of their beloved country [karera no ai suru kokka]themselves, and in order to protect and develop their autonomous politics, creating no gap for autocrats to arise from within and protecting themselves from invaders from without.
These words express in a nutshell the ideal that Hani propounded of the piazza, public square, or-in the modern Japanese translation term-hiroba. This term, which literally means simply "broad open space," here represented a universal ideal. In Toshi (The city), a work published a decade later, Hani would call this ideal jiyū naru kōtsū-a free traffic or intercourse among citizens. Although Hani's Michelangelo was not censored, the author was later lionized for speaking out against militarism during the war, and the book came to be revered as a classic. As postwar Japanese rejected what they called their "feudal" past, along with the emperor worship and militarism of the war years, and pursued the language and action of a democratic polity, Hani's portrait of a self-governing urban citizenry acquired a utopian appeal.
Postwar intellectuals feared, however, that Japan lacked not only a tradition of democratic citizen politics but also a tradition of urban spaces suited to such politics. Writing in the journal Toshi mondai in 1956, urban geographer Sugimura Nobuji surveyed plaza types in the cities of European countries and their colonies, noting that plazas marked these cities apart, because Japan-and indeed all of the Orient with the exception of countries that had been European colonies-lacked them. He theorized that plazas had been built in the West in part because when large numbers of people gathered, a sense of citizenship formed. Sugimura thus understood plazas as instruments of citizen making. Without them, civic participation in Japan was naturally hindered.
The absence of plazas was felt particularly acutely by architects. In the urban studies volume of Kenchikugaku taikei (Compendium of architectural studies), a standard multivolume architectural reference work published in 1960, architects Yoshizaka Takamasa and Tonuma Kōichi contrasted the cities of ancient Greece, where the agora revealed "a healthy interpretation of humanity within the community of citizens, however limited," with Japan's ancient capitals, whose urban form expressed "Oriental despotic rule lacking communal solidarity." This trait, they wrote, became yet more pronounced in the feudal cities that emerged in Japan during the subsequent medieval and Tokugawa periods.
To compensate, postwar architects designed "citizens' plazas" (shimin hiroba), most often adjacent to new municipal and prefectural office buildings. Later architects observed critically that these plazas were seldom used by ordinary citizens. Meanwhile, civic aspirations invested in the hiroba were reflected in the term's popularity in journalism and policy circles, along with the term "citizen" (shimin). Newspapers sometimes printed readers' contributions in columns called "readers' plazas." The long-term plan for Tokyo published by the progressive Minobe administration in 1971 was called "Plan for a Tokyo of Plazas and Blue Skies," although it did not in fact propose the construction of new plazas. Like the blue skies-a metonym for antipollution policy-the plaza here was notional, pointing toward a democratic civil society.
Yet as Hani's characterization of Florence's Piazza della Signoria reveals in its promiscuity of terms for the urban citizenry and the national citizenry, popular sovereignty and public authority, the citizens who gathered in the public square were conceived as much in the terms of modern nation-state citizenship as in the frame of an urban public sphere. And although Hani spoke of "free intercourse," suggesting the interaction of multiple subjects and opinions, Japanese advocates of the urban plaza in the 1950s and 1960s were as likely to emphasize its importance as a site of solidarity and of the expression of a unified national voice.
A conception of the plaza or public square as an open commons-the site of a public formed through spontaneous and unorchestrated interaction, where universal access but not universal consensus is guaranteed-thus stood in tension with a conception of the plaza as the instrument of citizen solidarity, the site of a public formed through unified mass action. This tension between different ways of figuring the public politically had its architectural counterpart in the problem of monumentality. In addition to providing space for citizens to gather, trade, and exchange opinions, public squares and plazas have historically been built to enhance vistas of buildings and sculptures, making them monuments bearing symbolic or commemorative meaning. Monumental space symbolically aggrandizes the power of the people who occupy it, too. Much like the excess beyond mere function that a monumental setting imparts to a structure, the space of unified mass action acquires a significance beyond the mere capacity to hold large numbers of people. As a space of politics writ large, the hiroba becomes a monumental site, where the collective will exceeds the will of the individual. The public square in Japan's early postwar decades embodied in unresolved form both the grand political idea of popular sovereignty and an emergent space for the traffic of ideas, the unified voice of the people and a cacophony of people's voices, the monumental and the everyday.
Open Spaces in the City's History
Japanese cities had possessed open spaces, and crowds had gathered in them, for centuries. After Edo was destroyed by fire in 1657, the Tokugawa shogunate created broad avenues and open spaces around bridges to serve as fire breaks. Over time, these spaces were transformed into informal markets and entertainment districts. In addition, some Buddhist temples opened their precincts to the general public, making them popular sites for commercial and leisure activities. What the Tokugawa city lacked, from the standpoint of modern democratic ideals, was a space explicitly granted to the citizenry for the purpose of gathering. Nor did the Meiji government consider the provision of monumental open spaces essential to the city's modernization. German architects Hermann Ende and Wilhelm Beckmann, commissioned in 1886 to redesign the central districts of the capital, proposed a baroque city plan that would have had large public squares, but the Meiji government chose instead to focus on regularizing the street pattern and providing basic infrastructure for commercial development. As the transport network developed, it became common practice to create open spaces-mainly traffic rotaries-in front of train stations. Apart from these, the Meiji city did not have planned spaces called hiroba, plaza, or square. For the modernizing state in the 1880s, traffic flow thus took priority over monumentality. After the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, there were once again plans for a new city that would include public squares, but these plans were largely thwarted, this time not by government but by the organized interests of landowners.
Hibiya Park, the country's first planned public park, was one of the capital's first open spaces to acquire political significance as a site of mass gathering. Created in 1903 on grounds just south of the Imperial Palace, the park became a frequent site of mass demonstrations beginning with the protests against the Portsmouth Treaty of 1905. Political rallies continued in Hibiya through the 1910s. May Day demonstrations were held at Ueno Park and other parks in Tokyo from 1920 until 1936, when they were banned. In accordance with the Public Order and Police Law instated in 1900, all gatherings in parks and other outdoor public spaces required permits from the police. The use of public space in these mass political events was thus premised on state sanction. Violence erupted in a few cases when permits were not granted or when the demonstrators transgressed the boundaries of the state-sanctioned public by marching out of the park-as when demonstrators attempted to bring their protest from Hibiya to the gates of the palace in 1905. Two competing models of national sovereignty clashed in this incident: one in which the people amassed in public might appeal to their emperor directly and one in which public parks provided space for pacification of the masses, with police present to maintain order and buffer the emperor and his ministers.
Events tied to a public that was unambiguously coeval with the Japanese monarch, since all sovereignty resided in him, took place in the front plaza of the Imperial Palace beginning in the late nineteenth century. Here, crowds witnessed military parades and displays of captured arms and celebrated national holidays in the presence of the emperor. In November 1940, fifty thousand people sang and shouted banzai together following the reading of a rescript by the Shōwa emperor in this plaza to celebrate twenty-six hundred years of imperial rule. The land was imperial household property, and the events were carefully orchestrated around the presence of the emperor, under whose gaze they took place.
In 1945, under the Allied occupation, the front plaza of the Imperial Palace was declared a public park. For five years, it became the site of May Day demonstrations, spearheaded by the resuscitated Communist Party, which referred to the site as the People's Plaza (Jinmin Hiroba). Like earlier political assemblies in parks, these events were sanctioned by permits from the police. As Hara Takeshi has noted, in their focus on a charismatic leader standing on a podium, Communist Party rallies in front of the palace bore a structural similarity to the military reviews and imperial celebrations that had taken place in the plaza before the end of the war. The Left's appropriation of this public space so closely tied to the imperial state came to an end in the violence of May Day 1952, just three days after Japan had regained independence. Two demonstrators died and hundreds of demonstrators and police were injured. On this occasion, the demonstrators had applied for a permit to use the plaza, been denied, and marched toward the palace anyway. The clash between police and demonstrators was thus sparked by the same contest seen in Hibiya in 1905, between police and representatives of the political opposition, over claims to the central symbolic site of national sovereignty.
In the same fashion, claims to space on the part of large groups of politically mobilized Tokyoites in the first two postwar decades were driven by the vision of a unified national public. Citizens protested in places they understood as public property, either because it had been granted to them by the state or because they treated it as their own by right as the citizens of a democratic polity. This meant that generally they gathered in structured and directed assemblies that expressed unitary political objectives rather than engaging in debate, discussion, and the "free traffic" of ideas. When Kuno Osamu claimed that Japan's first citizens were born in the Anpo antitreaty revision protests of 1960, he meant that at these mass protests-the largest Japan had ever seen-Japanese expressed their individual wills in concert, aware of their responsibility as the bearers of sovereignty in a democracy. This enormous mobilization of ordinary people unquestionably signified a watershed in political consciousness. Yet as monumental spaces of a unified public and sites of mass assembly, the proverbial hiroba of postwar democracy did not fundamentally differ from either the hiroba of wartime fascism or the hiroba of Communist May Day protests.
The Anpo protests of 1960 took place on the grounds of the National Diet Building, where the nation's elected representatives were gathered, and in the surrounding streets. Here, citizens representing numerous groups and political positions, not directed by a single party, assembled to express themselves freely. Different groups approached national politics and the theater of protest in conflicting ways. Members of the student Communist bund, Zengakuren, defied the established parties of the Left by protesting without their sanction and breaking into the Diet grounds. Newly created independent citizens' groups sought to dissolve the boundary between the demonstrations and the everyday city by encouraging passersby to join them spontaneously.
Yet because of the nature of the cause, citizenship in the Anpo protests still ultimately manifested itself in the display of national solidarity. Protesters understood their presence around the Diet Building as a temporary occupation for a single purpose. Most of the protest took the form of organized and choreographed marches. As George Packard notes, demonstration marches were conducted with permission from the Tokyo Public Safety Commission until May 20, 1960, after which the marches were held without permits, but remained focused on the Diet Building and unified in their demands. Although the students' effort to enter the building by force resulted in violent clashes with the police, Packard reports that protesters adhered to police restrictions by not carrying placards when they protested on the Diet grounds without permits.
Conservative politicians in the Diet, meanwhile, referred to the building grounds as "sacred space" (seichi)and sought to pass a bill forbidding protest there altogether. Anpo thus shared with the Hibiya protests of 1905 and the May Day protests in the palace plaza the character of a battle between politically mobilized national subjects and the government over a space of national sovereignty. Despite the horizontal organization among protesters from many walks of life that suggested a widely held new sense of the meaningfulness and obligation of civic participation, then, Anpo as it played out in the streets had as much in common with earlier forms of mass politics as it did with the continuous "free intercourse" among urban citizens idealized by Hani or the face-to-face communication that Jürgen Habermas considered the foundation of the democratic public sphere.
Antimonumental Spaces and Publics
As Wesley Sasaki-Uemura has noted, the failure of the Anpo protests to prevent the renewal of the U.S.-Japan security treaty signaled "the end of united-front mass movements on the national scale," yet the groups that had gathered around the Diet in 1960 continued as a multiplicity of "micro-publics" pursuing local and national political issues in print. This new political activism flourished particularly in the medium of minikomishi-privately printed newsletters and journals, often written in a personal, epistolary style. Anpo thus contributed to the development of an increasingly diverse democratic public sphere. Grassroots groups born in the context of the 1960 demonstrations, like the Voiceless Voices (Koe Naki Koe No Kai), valued spontaneity and horizontal ties while resisting institutionalization. These traits would persist in other movements as part of a citizen politics that kept parties and universal political philosophies at arm's length, seeking instead to engage other citizens in everyday places and on issues of everyday life.
A related constellation of ideas emerged in writing about urban space after the 1960 protests. In 1961 and 1962, Itō Teiji, Isozaki Arata, and others collaborated on a group of studies and essays that would become "Urban Space in Japan" (Nihon no toshi kūkan), a special issue of the journal Architecture Culture (Kenchiku bunka), published in December 1963. The issue elaborated a series of conceptual keywords for understanding Japanese space, beginning with the term kaiwai, a colloquialism for "vicinity" or "district," which was translated to English in the journal as "activity space."While taking examples from contemporary vernacular streetscapes as well as from famous Buddhist temple complexes and other historical sites, the spatial theory of kaiwai (on which Itō and others would elaborate further in later writing) fused an organicist reading of Japanese space as an integrated order with an emphasis on spontaneity and irregularity.
In contrast to earlier writers, who had lamented Japan's lack of a tradition of civic monumentality to match that of the West, which they believed had left the nation mired in feudalism, this new approach championed historical and contemporary uses of common space in Japan as evidence of an antimonumental countertradition. Trends in Anglo-American urban writing helped validate the shift in perspective. The Image of the City, Kevin Lynch's classic microstudy of urban residents' perceptions of the cityscape, was translated by students of Tange Kenzō in 1958. Jane Jacobs's Death and Life of Great American Cities, first published in 1961, was widely read by Japanese students of architecture and planning. As the intimate and accidental came to challenge the monumental and symbolic in urban design thought, Japan seemed to have something unique that distinguished it favorably from the West.
Kaiwai, Itō explained, was constituted by "the set of individual activities of people, or the accumulation of devices [shisetsu] that trigger a set of activities." He conceived kaiwai as a distinctively Japanese pattern thatwas spatial yet undelineated, a kind of "mist," or atmosphere, generated by what happened there rather than by the drawing of boundaries. This definition left a broad spectrum of spatial forms, or experiences, open for inclusion. A photograph of nighttime crowds in the Shinjuku Kabukichō entertainment district and an illustration of a market street scene from an Edo-period guidebook (meisho zue) provided the first visual examples. Itō and his colleagues had chosen kaiwai in their pursuit of a uniquely Japanese kind of space, but in fleshing out the idea, they had arrived at a phenomenon that was more social than spatial. Examples showed spaces defined not by formal design features but by the spontaneous uses of occupants. The authors described kaiwai as a Japanese spatial essence characterized by subjectivity, indeterminacy, and "assemblage of individual experiences." The spatial components of kaiwai were then analyzed into parts, the first of which, tellingly, was what they called arare, or scattered composition (translated in the journal as the "by-chance system").
Like Kevin Lynch and Gordon Cullen, whose urban design guide Townscape they also referenced, Itō and his colleagues worked from existing places or depictions of places. The idea that there existed a set of essential Japanese spatial forms was a given at the outset of the project, which followed a special issue on the essential forms of urban space in the West. But for the editors, and for Itō in particular, the idea of framing the general principles of Japanese urban space created an opportunity to consider the contemporary vernacular of Tokyo, together with already iconic spaces like Ise Shrine and the pilgrimage site of Konpira, in relation to recent international trends in urban design thought. The result was a collection of images and interpretations that would make native streetscapes an appealing starting point for subsequent urban and architectural theory. The authors gave their interpretation double appeal by finding that the techniques of the Japanese urban vernacular produced an in-between space (ma) defined by the distribution of signs in a manner "strangely linked to the present era dominated by the language of computer-generated signs [denki keisanki no kigō]." In a move that had served modernism and would soon serve postmodernism, Japanese tradition was thus revitalized as peculiarly contemporary.
Because the significance of kaiwai lay in spontaneity, the concept accorded with the ideal of a space of free intercourse that had been envisioned by Hani and pursued in post-Anpo citizen movements. At the same time, speaking of appropriation and interaction shifted attention from the conditions for mass mobilization and solidarity toward an anarchic model. Although Itō and his colleaguesconcerned themselves only with form, kaiwai implicitly raised the social and legal problem of access: to what degree were urban open spaces available for appropriation, by whom, and within what limitations? Talk of kaiwai thus made visible a distinction that Hani and other democratic theorists had not made: between public property, which was held by the state and granted to citizens under particular conditions, and commons, which was beyond the control of the state or granted passively to the citizens who appropriated it. Commons, the necessary foundation of kaiwai's "activity space," implied a right not to be excluded, rather than a right to participate based on sovereignty. The new appeal to the spontaneous, anarchic, and nonmonumental undoubtedly signified a retreat from the ideals of the public, but not a retreat from politics itself. In kaiwai, Itō offered an idea that would be cited and adapted repeatedly in subsequent decades: that the unique character of Japanese urbanism lay in the ways in which ordinary people appropriated space spontaneously and in the kinds of places that accommodated and lent themselves to this spontaneous appropriation. Kaiwai thus supplemented citizen politics with an aesthetics of the everyday.
Shinjuku West Exit Underground Plaza, 1969
In the spring of 1969, protests against the Vietnam War began drawing large crowds to Shinjuku Station, a commuter hub that had grown to become the city's largest in the years since the war. Here, in the Shinjuku West Exit Underground Plaza (Nishiguchi Chika Hiroba), a crowd of protesters, other activists, and onlookers, gathering without a demonstration plan or permit, injected politics into an everyday space of transit. The form of protest that they engaged in was politically readable as a mass mobilization for a national cause, yet in its structure and behavior it was closer to Hani's original ideal of free intercourse. The protesters' ultimate expulsion from the station by metropolitan police revealed the degree to which advanced capitalism demanded a rationalization of public space for unimpeded movement. This defeat contributed to an intellectual turn among urban writers and activists toward other forms of common space (see figure 3).
The Shinjuku district had already been the site of several turf battles by this time. In 1967, groups of youth popularly referred to as fūtenzoku (drifters), who were considered the Japanese counterpart to hippies, were forcibly removed by police from the area in front of the east exit. Antiwar demonstrators clashed with riot police outside the station on October 21, 1968, Peace Day, with student radicals flooding onto the tracks and stopping rail traffic until late at night. In January 1969, riot police shut down a performance by avant-gardist Kara Jurō's Situation Theater and arrested members after the group set up its tent in a park outside the west exit of the station without a permit.
Elsewhere in Tokyo, riot police had recently crushed an extended occupation of campus buildings at Tokyo University and Nihon University by radical students associated with Zenkyōtō, the Student Joint Struggle Committee. Police removed the barricades students had built in January 1969. In contrast with 1960 Anpo, none of these activists sought to claim public space as a right of national citizens. The student radicals targeted the very same liberal political theorists who had provided intellectual foundations for the 1960 protests, accusing them of being bourgeois elitists.
Hani, in contrast, managed to be urban theorist of the moment a second time, for a new postwar generation. In December 1968, he published The Logic of Cities (Toshi no ronri), which was immediately embraced by campus protesters, making it another bestseller. Here Hani himself was critical of all the earlier talk of hiroba, and he blamed liberal political thinkers like Maruyama Masao for using the term in what he considered a "completely untheoretical" and "utopian" manner. The real issue, Hani now averred, was the city's autonomy from the state. Self-government, he claimed, was what the Greek agora, the Roman forum, and the Renaissance piazza had guaranteed. Within their barricades, the students created what they called "liberated zones" (kaihōku), a term with echoes of the Chinese Communist revolution as well as of the Paris Commune. Hani's ideal of urban autonomy also took the Paris Commune as a model, regarding it as a modern struggle to revive the principles of the Renaissance-era free city. For Hani, the freedom that the city made possible challenged not only the despotic state but the conservative forces of the family and rural village, institutions that many intellectuals regarded as feudal remnants. This view of urban liberation had natural appeal to Tokyo youth, most of whom had recently left rural homes to come to the city for education and work.
Henri LeFebvre's urban critique was also influential among activists in Tokyo's "liberated zones." LeFebvre's history of the Paris Commune was translated into Japanese and published in two volumes in 1967 and 1968. One aspect of LeFebvre's work in particular struck a chord for student activists in Tokyo, as it had for students in Paris: the idea that the Commune had in its essence been a "grandiose fête," in which class barriers were broken down by spontaneous action in the streets. As in Paris, the student movement in 1968 Tokyo combined concrete demands for university self-government with a romantic rejection of bureaucracy and rationalism.
The antiwar organization Beheiren (Citizens' Federation for Peace in Vietnam) championed the festive element of protest while eschewing the violent tactics that student radicals espoused. Drawing from the methods of the citizens' groups that had emerged in 1960 Anpo, Beheiren worked through a horizontal and "rhizomatic"-rather than hierarchical-structure, allowing anyone with common goals to use the name and rejecting alignment with political parties. Writer Oda Makoto, the most visible Beheiren spokesman, described the group's demonstrations as foremost about mutual acknowledgment and communication. A "spirit of play," Oda asserted, should predominate in the movement over moralism and "politicization in the bad sense." He proposed ideas like protesting American military bases by flying kites and sending up fireworks. In intellectual historian Yumiko Iida's reading, Beheiren's playfulness reflected the group's acceptance of mass consumer society. Beheiren provided space for individual self-expression with a lower level of political commitment than the student movement. Group leaders understood that mass media made any organized public activity into a spectacle, and they sought to turn that spectacle to their own advantage. Additionally, unlike the radical, diffuse, and sometimes opaque messages of the campus protests, the single issue of opposition to the Vietnam War enjoyed the sympathy of the majority of Japanese.
The new Shinjuku West Exit Plaza, legally property of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the suburban rail companies, was the pride of city planners when it was completed in 1965. It was seen as the first step toward developing west Shinjuku into a new central business district. The design received the Japan Society of Architects Prize (Nihon Kenchiku Gakkai Shō) for that year. Photographs at the front of commemorative books published in 1968 for the hundredth anniversary of the Meiji Restoration displayed the recently completed West Exit Plaza's two-story structure, designed to link rail, bus, and foot traffic with maximum efficiency. Because of this layered structure, the designers touted it as the world's first "three-dimensional plaza" (rittai hiroba). By 1969, an estimated one million people passed through the west exit of Shinjuku Station each weekday, making it one of the most heavily trafficked points on the planet.
Early that year, members of the student groups pushed off the campuses began to gather in the roofed lower-level portion of the West Exit Plaza, leafleting, soliciting donations, and debating with one another. On Saturday evenings beginning in late February, they were joined by guitarists and singers affiliated with Beheiren who called themselves "folk guerrillas" and led sing-alongs. Listeners stood or sat on the floor in circles around them. Passersby stopped and stood on the periphery of the circles. After the sing-alongs, the circles would break up into smaller groups for what participants described as discussion or debating sessions (tōronkai). By May, hundreds were participating in the Saturday night gatherings. Other groups came nightly to collect signatures and donations for a variety of causes, including an organization dedicated to preserving the Lucky Dragon, a boat affected by nuclear fallout in 1954 that had become the symbol of the antinuclear movement, and a group of architects opposed to Expo '70, which was scheduled to be held the following year in Osaka. Still others came to lecture anyone who would listen, or brought mimeographed collections of their own poetry and laid them out on the floor for sale. According to journalist and activist Konaka Yōtarō, who visited several times in May, discussion groups formed around issues such as Okinawa's return to Japanese sovereignty, the political party system, the limits of the concept of "citizen," and whether bureaucratic institutions were inherently evil.
The folk guerrillas maintained a routine. Two or three arrived with guitars around 6:00 P.M., sang a standard repertoire of antiwar songs (including, for example, "We Shall Overcome") and parodies like "The Riot Cop Blues" (Kidōtai burūsu) and "Let's Join the Self-Defense Force" (Jieitai ni hairō), passed around the microphone, and invited others to address the crowd or lead a song. They closed around 8:00 P.M. with "The Internationale" and quickly departed. Some passengers complained that they couldn't use the public telephones in the plaza because of the noise. A few businesses facing the plaza also complained that the crowds hurt sales. This provided sufficient grounds for the police to declare that the gatherings violated the traffic law (dōro kōtsūhō) and railway commerce law (tetsudō eigyō hō) and attempt to clear the plaza. Riot police were deployed beginning May 14. Joined by representatives of Zenkyōtō, the crowd swelled to three thousand on the Saturday of the following week. The police held back. The Asahi reported that riot police trying to clear the plaza had had "the reverse effect of creating PR." After the folk guerrillas had left, a "scrum" (sukuramu) of students stayed on, protesting the upcoming renewal of the U.S.-Japan security treaty (1970 Anpo) with the snake-dancing demonstrations customary from 1960 Anpo and other mass street mobilizations. The same pattern continued through June. On June 28, hearing news of a postal strike nearby and eight hundred riot police positioned around the periphery of the station, Zenkyōtō students decided to march out of the plaza toward the post office. This time, police responded with tear gas, evacuating the plaza. Nevertheless, sing-alongs continued for two more weeks. Finally, on July 19, protesters arrived to find all the signs in the plaza area changed from "Shinjuku West Exit Underground Plaza" to "Shinjuku West Exit Underground Concourse" (Shinjuku Nishiguchi Chika Tsūro), and the entire area filled with riot police, who shooed along everyone who arrived, preventing them from sitting or standing still. Twelve people were arrested, including one of the folk guerrillas. Later that night, radical students fought with police outside the east exit, but the crowds were effectively dispersed in the West Exit Plaza. In August, some of the folk guerrillas got a permit from the public safety commission and held a rally in Hibiya Park, but many present apparently judged it pointless and tried to return to Shinjuku, where they were repelled again by riot police. This brought an end to the gatherings, discussions, and sing-alongs in the Shinjuku West Exit Underground Plaza.
The animating issue for Beheiren and for most of the people gathered in the plaza was an international one, and both ethnic nationalist and pan-Asian nationalist rhetoric were evident in the statements of Beheiren leaders, as Simon Avenell has shown in his study of postwar concepts of the citizen in Japan. Yet these gatherings differed from earlier political events in the streets of Tokyo because they were built around interaction among strangers. The folk guerrillas' sing-alongs were choreographed in the sense that they began at a fixed time announced by flyers, and many passing commuters doubtless viewed them as an obstruction rather than a welcome presence, but the gatherings still seemed to those participating to represent a moment of unplanned communal solidarity. It was this solidarity that attracted the attention of reporters and was particularly mourned by participants and journalists after the plaza was evacuated. Whether they were there intentionally or by accident, participants claimed something like what LeFebvre called the "right to the city" (in his book of that title, the Japanese translation of which was published in July 1969): the common right of access to open space by virtue of being an inhabitant of the city, rather than the right of a politically enfranchised national public.
In spatial terms, the Shinjuku West Exit Underground Plaza in early 1969 was characterized by three features that distinguished it from the sites of earlier political assemblies: (1) it was not a publicly sanctioned space, like a park; (2) it was a place that people were compelled to pass through continually for everyday purposes, such as commuting and shopping; and (3) the crowds that formed there were multifocal, taking the shape of seated groups and milling pedestrians, rather than marching demonstrators, and coalescing only briefly for demonstrations, debates, or sing-alongs. The events combined some of the ideals of a Habermasian public sphere based on rational debate of questions of justice with an element of the carnivalesque, as the very name of the central players-the folk guerrillas-makes clear.
A reporter from the Asahi newspaper, which followed the Shinjuku gatherings enthusiastically, described the scene on a Saturday in late June in theatrical terms, calling it a "spiritual liberated zone" (seishin no kaihōku). The reporter's sketch began with two anonymous observers on the mezzanine noticing young people gathering in midafternoon. One observer remarks to the other, "Look, it's starting again." Around 4:00 P.M. a troop of sixty girls from Tokyo Girls Junior College arrive and sing "The Internationale," after which one of them, holding a microphone, delivers a speech. They begin a snake-dancing demonstration in the taxi waiting area, moving rhythmically with their staves (standard equipage of the radical student movement), "dipping their hips deeply in the gewalt style" (gebaruto; the German word gewalt, meaning force or violence, was used in the Japanese student movement to refer to violent protest or resistance), then linking hands across the street in a "French demo" (Furansu demo). Students from another private girls' college argue with Zenkyōtō boys collecting donations, asking why they advocate violence. Discussion groups form. "If you identify yourself," the reporter writes, "anyone can become the lead player [shuyaku]." When the folk guerrillas arrive, all the small groups form into a single mass. There are songs, appeals, and jokes, then "The Internationale" again. Several hundred students stay after the folk guerrillas depart-some still singing, others going to the east exit to demonstrate. The style of this report not only emphasized the spectacle-like nature of the event and its choreography, but presented it in language that assumed readers' familiarity with the show and its participants.
To what extent national debate about the war was advanced by means of protests, songs, and encounters with commuters and police in Shinjuku is difficult to judge, but from the perspective of sympathizers, this was not the point. As Ken Hirschkop writes of Mikhail Bakhtin's conception of the public square, "Unlike the public sphere, the public square does not encourage discourse in order to produce a rational outcome, freed from local prejudice, but in order to produce a 'historical becoming,'" in which dialogue itself has greater significance than decision making. The students and Beheiren activists who participated, together with the journalists who drew larger messages from these gatherings, saw a "community of encounter" (in the phrase of Konaka Yōtarō) signifying the potential realization of an autonomous urban civil society. This itself was the "historical becoming," a new kind of social behavior and consciousness facilitated by the space of the plaza but brought about by the willingness of people passing through it to stop and sing and talk with strangers.
The innovations for which the design of the Shinjuku West Exit Plaza was praised at the time of its completion in 1964 represented a conception of the plaza's function precisely opposite that championed by the Beheiren activists and other occupiers in 1969. The operative concept in the design was unimpeded motion. The Society of Architects' report described it as a "flow plaza" (ryūdō hiroba) and emphasized the effectiveness of the two-story spiral structure in dealing with an anticipated peak traffic of 100,000 pedestrians and 2,500 vehicles at one time by directing the flow in three-dimensional space. Planners from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the rail companies had collaborated on the design with architects from the office of Le Corbusier disciple Sakakura Junzō and representatives of the Odakyū department store (whose building stood atop the west exit). Odakyū had wanted to maximize the amount of space for commercial use, but designers insisted on opening the spiral traffic ramp to the sky, which reduced the total floor area in order to bring light and air from one side into the roofed underground plaza. Discussing the design in the journal Shin kenchiku (New architecture)in 1968, the architects expressed their frustration that the master plan had already been set before they were brought into the project, thus limiting their role, and that the plaza was conceived primarily for vehicle traffic, with no consideration given to pedestrian-level vistas of the building façade. Still, neither the judgment accompanying the Society of Architects' award nor the designers' own disgruntled reflections on the design process made reference to the plaza's potential as a gathering place. Sasaki Takafumi, who interviewed the designers in Shin kenchiku, remarked that "the fundamental spatial problem of how people will move and act [within the new west exit area] remains unresolved." Perhaps thinking of the recent street demonstrations in Shinjuku and elsewhere, he added, "Human beings are acting more spontaneously, in ways architects cannot predict."
In this space designed for optimal flow, the occupiers created swirls and eddies. Generally, they didn't dam the flow: blocking traffic was a tactic of student radicals but not part of the folk guerrillas' approach. Allowing passage while encouraging participation involved a delicate balance of conflicting aims, however, as comments made by Beheiren members after the plaza's evacuation reveal: "The police say that it interferes with traffic," one told the Asahi. "Certainly, it does pose an impediment, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to pass through. We've tried to handle traffic management ourselves, too. Some people have said if we want to sing and hold debates, we should do it in a park, but we just want to do it with as many people as possible." In a later reflection, participant Yoshioka Shinobu wrote, "The folk singing wasn't to make people listen to the song but a device to make people walking through turn toward one another and talk. Admittedly, it was a fragile device." This is why the move to Hibiya Park failed: the occupiers didn't seek open space; they sought interaction with other Tokyo citizens. Although everyone, including the designers themselves, acknowledged that the plaza was not a particularly inviting or socially conducive space, it enjoyed a greater volume of passersby to encounter than anywhere else.
Following the evacuation and renaming, discussion in the Asahi turned to the question of whether the West Exit Plaza was a plaza (hiroba) or a passageway (tsūro). Participants in the protests viewed the change of signage as no more than a sleight of hand on the part of the police and station managers. Some plaza advocates asserted that they didn't care what the place was called, because people ought to be able to gather wherever they pleased. Yet the figure of the hiroba and the ideals of citizenship that had been invested in it over the preceding decades lent moral weight to the sense that this incident had tested a fundamental condition of democratic institutions. The name hiroba, when combined with the spontaneous emergence of demonstrations and debate there, made the area adjacent to the station exit a potential "community of encounter" rather than merely an open space or the space of transit that it was clearly designed to be. For their part, the police, too, saw the power in a name, as evidenced by their going to the trouble of changing forty-five signs in the station overnight. Labeling the site a passage or concourse rather than a plaza asserted ex post facto the legitimacy of the charges of violating traffic law for which two members of the folk guerrillas had been arrested prior to the final crackdown. It was difficult to charge the singers with the usual "demonstration without permit" as long as they held no placards and didn't march. Police claimed that the change of signs represented a clarification by the city planning office that the plaza was legally a "municipal road," and that since it was a municipal road, they had charged the singers with performing and seeking to attract an audience in the street without a license. Impromptu performance in a public open space like a park would presumably have dictated more lenient treatment, allowing police to intervene only if it could be shown that the performers were causing serious inconvenience to others. Although the term hiroba, which appeared in a range of planning laws, did not define an explicit set of use rights, the public discourse in planning and politics endowed it with greater citizen sovereignty than a road.
It was clear that the designers had chosen the name hiroba mainly for its "feel-good" quality-precisely the tendency that Hani had criticized-and not in order to announce its suitability for spontaneous civic activism, let alone mass demonstrations. Writer and participant Sekine Hiroshi put it pithily in an article published less than a year later, under a title that declared the incident already entirely a thing of the past, "The History of Shinjuku West Exit Plaza": "In short, all that had happened is that an imitation hiroba became a real hiroba, so the establishment used its power to suppress the hiroba, and confessed anew that this hiroba was an imitation." Citing architect Miyauchi Yasushi, Sekine acknowledged at the same time that the west exit had never been a particularly good space for a public square.
In a letter published in the Asahi, Sekine called on Minobe Ryōkichi, Tokyo's progressive governor, to answer the charge that the metropolitan government had deceived Tokyo citizens by labeling the space a plaza. Minobe did not reply. Nor did he mention the incident in the memoir of his time in office that he published a decade later. Reflecting the priority of state interests in the national capital, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department was under the direction of the National Public Safety Commission, not the metropolitan governor. If urban autonomy was measured by the degree to which the city's highest elected official could intervene publicly in a confrontation between citizens and police, this was a clear indication of the limits of Tokyo's autonomy.
Yet, more than showing the limits of urban autonomy, the evacuation of the plaza showed the limits of urban commons. It therefore also distinguished public property rights from common property rights, both of which had been part of the conceptual investment in the idea of hiroba and the theory of kaiwai. In representations prior to 1969, the plaza as an officially sanctioned monumental space had been easily confounded with the plaza as an everyday space of unrestricted access. As long as political subjecthood was conceived as residing in a unified nation-"the people" rather than just "people"-monumental public spaces manifestly held as property of the state, like Hibiya Park, the Imperial Palace Plaza, and the grounds of the Diet, were the natural sites of contest, and European plazas and squares could be imagined in a broad and undifferentiated way as embodying both individual freedom and collective politics. Shinjuku West Exit Plaza, by contrast, bore neither the juridical status of state property nor its monumental symbolism. It was a simply a space of transit. Nor did the activists from Beheiren and other groups who took over a portion of the plaza on Saturday nights claim to do so on behalf of the nation. Their claim was instead to common rights: the right to gather, sing, debate, and distribute leaflets; the right not to be excluded from use of a space that did not bear the exclusionary marks of private property. The fact that this space had been labeled hiroba seemed to gesture toward hallowed democratic civic ideals. By the same token, the authorities' handling of that civic idealism by the facile device of changing the plaza's name revealed that the combination of public right and common access that believers had imagined a hiroba inherently guaranteed had never actually existed.
Because the term hiroba had been made to signify much more than simply an open space, the attempt to manifest the hiroba ideal in this misnamed place, together with the eventual failure of that attempt, turned advocates' attention to articulating the conditions for hiroba-like events and behaviors. A week after the final evacuation, the Asahi published a group of readers' opinions under the headline "We Want a 'Plaza'" ("Hiroba" ga hoshii). The newspaper reported having received ninety-seven letters, the overwhelming majority supporting the gatherings in Shinjuku. "It is true," the reporter observed, "that Tokyo has no place for free debate out of doors like New York's Washington Square or London's Hyde Park." The pro-Beheiren letters the article quoted dwelled more on the importance of free discussion and the atmosphere of the gatherings than on the plaza as a space or the question of rights of access. Hiroba as the figure of a political aspiration to communality, spontaneity, and free appropriation of space could manifest itself in different places and times, and advocates were beginning to detach it from earlier conceptions of public open space. Some participants, for example, regarded the Zenkyōtō students' mode of appropriation in Shinjuku, which monopolized the space and courted confrontation with the police while following the formal logic of the mass action, as inimical to their conception of commons. Anarchist Takenaka Tsutomu wrote in the newsletter Folk Report that "foolish" radicals had ruined the seeds of a "festival-style commune" of the kind LeFebvre had described.
If the failure of the 1960 Anpo protests to stop renewal of the security treaty with the United States revealed that the postwar state would not accommodate direct citizen democracy, the evacuation of Shinjuku West Exit Underground Plaza revealed that the corporate-dominated mass society Japan had become in the intervening decade would not accommodate an uncircumscribed right of commons in central Tokyo. Peaceful citizen protests against the Vietnam War, although inconvenient, posed no direct threat to the government. The problem from the perspective of the authorities was location. The designers of Shinjuku's west exit had put particular emphasis on the idea of the "flow plaza" and the three-dimensional traffic pattern because the new station exit served as the gateway to a rapidly growing business district in which several of the country's first high-rise office blocks were then being constructed. Assembled initially without plan, simply an accident of the available space and the convenience of Shinjuku as a meeting place, the antiwar sing-alongs and discussion groups had occupied the busiest commuter hub in the world-an unsurpassed example of the bureaucratically managed society (kanri shakai) that student activists and intellectuals of Japan's New Left, like their counterparts in Paris, saw as the enemy of democracy. Whatever other political factors underlay it, the police action announced vividly that civic gatherings would not be allowed to impede the smooth flow of office workers that sustained Japanese corporate capitalism. West Shinjuku, the emergent business center soon to become a new city government center as well, was not a place to linger, sing, or turn and talk to strangers.
Urban Theory in the Aftermath of the Shinjuku Incident
The eviction of protestors from Shinjuku West Exit Plaza in 1969 had little direct impact on the politics of either the antiwar movement or the student movement. Beheiren moved on to other venues and strategies. Student radicals had already suffered a major defeat on the campuses and had never treated the West Exit Plaza as a symbolic space of decisive importance anyway. The real significance of the Shinjuku occupation lay in its role as the historical marker of a turn in perceptions of urban space and what citizens could do with it. The 1970s would see an outpouring of literary, semiotic, and historical readings of Japanese cities. Maeda Ai, perhaps the most important urban cultural theorist to emerge to prominence in the 1970s, later noted that the events in Shinjuku helped shape a new era of urban theory. Even though the Shinjuku gatherings had been suppressed, they had offered a utopian image of a spontaneous public appropriating common space. At the same time, the incident's disappointing denouement, in which civic ideals lost to the dictates of urban rationalization, effected the final separation of the public and the commons. As a result, urban theorists and activists turned toward exploring the possibilities in common, everyday spaces divorced from the monumentality of the public square and national politics. After 1969, new writing on Tokyo reinvented the city, building upon the earlier work of Itō Teiji and his colleagues to champion an urbanism focused on the everyday and the local. In place of the city as modern metropolis and site of mass politics, urban theorists reconceived Tokyo as a palimpsest of historical traces-some buried, some on the surface but overlooked, and some requiring the work of the imagination.
The idea of unplanned native gathering places, captured in the term kaiwai by Itō Teiji in 1963, was revived in August 1971 in the journal Architecture Culture, which had earlier published the special issue "Urban Space in Japan." This issue, again under the editorship of Itō, was called "The Japanese Hiroba" (Nihon no hiroba). Itō opened the issue with the perennial question of whether Japan had hiroba and admitted that the answer must be "no" if, by hiroba, one meant a place like the Greek agora or the medieval Italian piazza. However, he proposed that if one defined hiroba as "a device for creating relations among people, whether social, economic, or political," then indeed Japan had a tradition to draw upon. The concept of kaiwai, which had provided the axis for Itō's construction of a general typology of distinctive native spatial forms in the earlier publication, here became the key to a theory of Japanese analogues to the European public square. Itō asserted that, historically, the hiroba in Japan had "existed by virtue of being made a hiroba" (hirobaka suru koto ni yotte sonzai shite kita) through the spontaneous action of citizens, in contrast to Western hiroba, which were planned and formally recognized spaces. This encompassing and tautological formulation, with the unusual term hirobaka suru (meaning to make, or to become, a hiroba) liberated Itō and his collaborators to find hiroba in Buddhist temples, riverbanks, bridges, and street corners, among other places not normally referred to as hiroba.
Itō's expanded reading of hiroba accorded well with the ethos of Beheiren's festival-like protests. And indeed, festivals were among the spatiotemporal appropriations highlighted in the "The Japanese Hiroba." Other articles provided historical examples and evaluated contemporary urban spaces for their hiroba character, focusing particularly on the potential for spontaneous use. The authors observed that the "owners and managers" of these spaces had historically tended to stand in opposition to the people who made them hiroba. This model of urban space as founded in conflicting interests contrasted with the stress on natural symbiosis and harmony in the group's earlier study.
Studies of a variety of unplanned and antimonumental spaces followed. "The Japanese Hiroba" retained the concern with public access that the recent incidents had raised, but other writing moved away from universal questions of public access and common rights in central places. Sociological and spatial studies of the city turned to the sakariba, or "flourishing place," as a key feature of Japanese urban culture. Sakariba, a native term in use since the Tokugawa period, referred to entertainment districts and marketplaces, and was thus defined by consumption as well as by the tendency of people to gather. This line of urban study responded to the rapid growth of youth-oriented consumption centers in Tokyo and elsewhere, exemplified by Shinjuku in the 1960s and Shibuya in the 1970s and 1980s. It thus departed from the explicitly political issues of urban autonomy and rights of access and congregation, taking an oblique approach to the value of commons. The battle for a more encompassing citizen control of central space in Tokyo had been lost to the police and, by extension, to the invisible hegemony of capitalist mass society.
Yet many new readings of Tokyo chose to focus not on large gathering places, but on the margins and interstices of the city: back alleys, waterways, and open lots. Already in late 1969, philosopher Yoshimoto Takaaki, whose ideas played a central role in the campus debates, had written an essay eulogizing the Tokyo alley as a locus of organic community. Yoshimoto condemned Maruyama Masao and other leading liberal thinkers who had seen the 1960 demonstrations as a fight for democracy, arguing that they were deluded by their bourgeois faith in representative institutions and in their own role as intellectual leaders enlightening and guiding the mass public. Ordinary people, he maintained, had nothing to do with this enlightenment faith. Yoshimoto's interpretation of the social meaning of Tokyo's back alleys appeared at the head of the first issue of Toshi (The city), a journal of poetry, photography, and essays under his own editorship. For Yoshimoto, the continuity of the streetscape and habits of life in the alleys of Yanaka, the Tokyo neighborhood where he lived at the time, provided the evidence that most urban residents had no use for the enlightenment ideals of liberal thinkers. Here, in narrow cul-de-sacs, he found a common space shared by tenants, which he read as the last vestige of ancient rights that had protected householders from "despotic rule." In contrast to earlier theories of the city's past, however, in Yoshimoto's interpretation, the "despotism" of the premodern state was augmented by an equally despotic modernity. For Yoshimoto, the ordinary folk had taken a stance of continued passive resistance across the centuries. "I have affection for these old houses surviving almost forgotten in the mammoth city," he wrote, "not from antiquarianism ... but because they provide proof that both the good and the evil of modernity have passed right over their inhabitants without leaving a scratch. There is something that matches the foundations of my thought there ... showing that existing has value even if you yourself have no meaning." This view led him to call for the eradication of every hint of planning and construction that bore the marks of what he termed "the conceptual public."
In 1971, literature scholar Okuno Takeo combined examples from fiction with personal recollections in a nostalgically tinged study of the urban empty lot (harappa)as an ur-public space where the dramas of childhood were played out. The world of children's play in empty lots, Okuno asserted, was not only spontaneous but classless. He referred to the alley and the empty lot as "originary landscapes" (genfūkei), using a neologism that came into use at this time and was popularized by Okuno's work. The idea fused personal and collective memory. "Originary landscape" became a central concept in subsequent writing on the city, a means of anchoring spatial analyses in memory and the phenomenology of individual experience. In reality, the empty lots Okuno recalled had disappeared because they were transitory by nature. Far from being the unclaimed commons that Okuno's memory made them, the many empty lots of early and mid twentieth-century Yamanote (Tokyo's western suburbs) were actually sites awaiting development, part of a twentieth-century frontier in the process of being converted to housing for Tokyo's growing population. Nevertheless, Okuno's writing helped canonize the empty lot together with the alley as part of a constellation of utopian topoi of the urban commons.
Kawazoe Noboru, former editor of Shin kenchiku and leading theorist for Metabolism in the 1960s, turned from championing the urban megaplans of the Metabolists toward microstudies of everyday life in the early 1970s. In 1979 he published a history of gardens and decorative plant cultivation in the city titled Tokyo's Originary Landscape (Tōkyō no genfūkei). Kawazoe's vision of a green Edo reflected the environmental concerns of the 1970s and contrasted sharply with the preference for high-tech solutions among architects in the developmentalist 1960s. Taken as a program for the city, however, it was in its way more radical than the futurism of the Metabolist movement, which projected continued urban development based on contemporary master plans. In a concluding chapter, Kawazoe wrote, like Okuno, of his own memories of playing in open lots and in an old, untended garden next to his childhood home on what was at the time the urban periphery, which he called a "world of freedom" for children. He recalled the cul-de-sac in front of his house as a hiroba for the three houses on either side. Spaces like these had become rare by the 1970s, but they could still be found scattered throughout Tokyo. Conjured as "originary landscapes" by writers like Okuno and Kawazoe, they took on political significance, forming an alternative Tokyo unrepresented and unrepresentable on public maps.
Water was soon added to the canon of marginal spaces where traces of the urban commons survived from a utopian past. Architecture critic Hasegawa Takashi traced a long tradition of antimodernist (in Hasegawa's term, "medievalist") urban writing and aesthetics in Tokyo in his 1975 book Urban Corridors (Toshi kairō), an extended historical essay whose cornerstone was that westernizing Meiji "civilization" had brutally destroyed the premodern capital's waterways. The beauty of the old Edo-Tokyo, Hasegawa wrote, had prompted nineteenth-century visitors to compare the city to Venice. Like Yoshimoto, Hasegawa adopted a tone of critique rather than of wistful nostalgia, taking the city of the past as a site of resistance. Here, the waterways, as liminal spaces, furnished the sign of a commons that had been neglected and paved over by the modern state, which reoriented the city toward the streets. The old city of waterways was not lost but hidden, Hasegawa argued, and Nihonbashi, the bridge at Edo-Tokyo's center, was "the glorious gateway to an intricately constructed secret city," whose vestiges might still be found. He interpreted the "medievalists" as engaged in subtle and often willfully self-marginalizing acts of sabotage against the post-Meiji state's modernization project. Hasegawa's imaginative recasting of nineteenth-century Tokyo would influence subsequent writers. In the early 1980s, urban historian Jinnai Hidenobu fused this reading of waterways as the lost map of an alternative city with the focus on unplanned market spaces in sakariba studies by showing that bridges and riverbanks had been the great sites of spontaneous gathering in Edo, foci of "the people's energy," he claimed, equivalent to the hiroba of Europe. Reinvented in native terms, the figure of the hiroba thus lived on in urban writing as a node of political meaning.
As this literature of urban history and memory began to mesh with both municipal policy and municipal activism in the 1980s, new forms of spatial appropriation thus depended on uses of the city's past, rediscovered and reinvented. History had played a crucial role in the activism of the 1960s, but as Hani's writings reveal, the history on which activists drew was a universal history-physically rooted in European sites and forms like thepiazza, and theoretically rooted in the developmental schemata of Marxism or of other strains of postenlightenment European thought. The spatial politics of Tokyo after Shinjuku turned from this universal history toward local histories, subjective experiences, and sensory connections between history and memory to counter the experience of a mass-mediated urban life that appeared increasingly homogeneous.
All the sites excavated by urban writers after 1969-alleys, empty lots, waterways, and unplanned markets-shared two key features: they were vaguely defined in property terms, and they were marginal spaces. In turning toward these other spaces of encounter and gathering, urbanists set aside the issue of sovereignty; the question was no longer whose domain a place was when push came to shove-as it had been in the writing of Hani Gorō, in the campus protests, and in the gatherings in Shinjuku in 1969-but what people did with it, what possibilities it offered up for creative use. Closure of the carnivalesque political moment of Shinjuku had put the mass politics of the center that had preceded it into a distant past. Both the state pageantry and the May Day violence of the Imperial Palace Plaza were forgotten.
Although in itself, the Shinjuku incident had no significant political consequences and did not enter the postwar political narrative as a national watershed in the manner of 1960 Anpo, retrospectively it has come to mark a watershed in the history of urban space and culture in Tokyo. Indeed, Maeda's observation that the campus protests and the Shinjuku incident affected subsequent urban theory can be extended further. The new urbanism of margins and interstices that emerged after the incident influenced district-level planning in Tokyo, such as in the revival beginning in the mid-1970s of small waterways in the city as recreation spaces, some of which were converted into what were called "intimate water parks" (shinsui kōen). Its ramifications were evident in the 1980s in the myriad local municipal events and museum exhibits celebrating Tokyo's old downtown, Shitamachi, as a city of alleyways-along with the commercial exploitation of this identity.
Shinjuku marked both an end to hopes invested in direct democracy in the public square and the beginning of an era in which the relations between media, activism, and urban public space were more complex. As revealed by the Asahi shinbun's close tracking of the Shinjuku occupation-including reportage in a style that read almost like theater commentary-in a city as saturated with media as Tokyo, there was no longer a way to separate "true" democratic communication from the scoop, the human-interest piece, or the spectacle. Beheiren activists, like activists around the world in 1969, recognized that politics was now intensely mass-mediated. Habermas and critical sociologists after him have stressed the decisive role of modern mass-media technologies in the undoing of the democratic public sphere. From a Habermasian perspective, the Beheiren protesters and their supporters or interlocutors in Shinjuku must be said to have come late to the square, historically speaking. In the decade between Anpo and Shinjuku, television had entered practically every household in Japan, extending deep into private life the reach of a different kind of public space built by the state-run broadcasting company NHK and a handful of commercial networks, a vast new space of national experience shared entirely passively. Gathering to sing and debate in public was the antithesis to participating in society by watching television at home. In subsequent years, the Shinjuku protests acquired the appearance of a last stand for politics based on direct public interaction, since much of everyday life in the course of the high-growth years had been transformed, particularly for white-collar workers, into the blindered, arduous commute through anonymous crowds to homogenous offices, and the return home to a private sphere whose sole connection to the outside world was the television set.
Many commentators after the incident perceived its meaning in ironic terms. Some found symbolic meaning, for example, in the creation of new hiroba and hiroba-like leisure spaces in the following year. Expo '70 opened its gates, despite protests that had been held against it in Shinjuku and elsewhere. The centerpiece of this monumental expression of the developmental state was the "Festival Plaza" (Matsuri hiroba) designed by architect Tange Kenzō (see figure 4). More significant than this particular hiroba in the longer subsequent history of urban public space was the introduction in summer 1970 of what were called "pedestrian paradises" (hokōsha tengoku): major shopping streets in Tokyo and other Japanese cities closed off to vehicular traffic for several hours on Sunday afternoons to create temporary public leisure zones. One of the first of these was in Shinjuku. An essay in the progressive weekly Asahi jaanaru in 1973 took the Shinjuku incident and the "pedestrian paradise" phenomenon as opposing examples of spaces being redefined by those who claimed them: in Shinjuku, the space had been transformed by citizens, the writer observed, whereas the pedestrian paradise presented the new guise of power, appearing to offer a hiroba to the citizenry, then ripping off its mask and revealing the reality of the police state at the moment that citizens sought to "exercise true spontaneity." Architecture critic Funo Shūji later wrote that the Shinjuku incident exposed the structures of control in the city and the naïve humanism of architects who had imagined they could create spaces of communication. He went on to explain the "pedestrian paradise" as an adroit recasting of the radical students' "liberated zone" that demonstrated the system's power of co-optation. Both of them were in formal terms, after all, the same thing: a street blocked to vehicular traffic.
The potential of a "pedestrian paradise" to function as an urban commons was put to the test in 1972, when publishers of small journals and pamphlets tried to hold a "mini-communications" (minikomi)market to encourage free exchange of information in the Sunday pedestrian zone in Shinjuku. Police forced the vendors to leave, on the grounds that they had no permit. The police action suggested a decision to nip in the bud the kind of spontaneous interaction among strangers implied by this unlicensed market before political groups moved in. Since the minikomi market had been designed to skirt standard publishing and distribution, which limited dissemination of information, the pedestrian paradise was thus revealed to be a new kind of openly policed public space built around limited free intercourse and controlled communication.
Yet, as tidy a narrative as it offered critics, the end of the Shinjuku occupation and the beginning of police-regulated pedestrian paradises did not constitute a direct causal sequence. Linking the suppressed occupations of public space in 1968 and 1969 to the new managed public leisure spaces that appeared beginning in 1970 depended on an argument that assumed the omnipotence of state bureaucratic management and the inevitable acquiescence of individuals in mass consumer society. In fact, pedestrian paradises had begun in response to citizens' initiatives in cities outside Tokyo. With smog and traffic problems frequently at the top of the news in 1970, pedestrian paradises were welcomed throughout the country as a first step toward more livable cities. Nor, conversely, did politics leave the streets of Tokyo after the evacuation of Shinjuku West Exit Plaza or the closing of pedestrian paradises to pamphleteers, although no subsequent incident would present the terms of public space and common access with quite the same combination of vividness and broad appeal as the Shinjuku incident had. Street demonstrations and illegal occupations for a range of political causes were seen in later years. Homeless people built a shantytown of cardboard houses in the corridors of Shinjuku west exit in the 1990s, and their supporters fought with police in an effort to prevent their removal. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, youthful protesters against Liberal Democratic Party leadership and Tokyo's conservative governor Ishihara Shintarō used the rave as a demonstration tactic, dancing through the streets of Shibuya, the new commercial center that had risen following Shinjuku's decline as a youth mecca in the 1970s. Members of the supposedly introverted and apolitical otaku subculture tested the boundaries of permitted public behavior in the Akihabara electronics district with music and dance performances in the streets beginning in 2006 and continuing until a deranged slasher killed seven passersby among the youthful crowd in June 2008, which provided the police an excuse to suspend the weekly "pedestrian paradise" there.
Whether one hears the story of the Shinjuku incident as tragedy, comedy, or farce depends on one's view of postwar Japanese politics, of the global moment of 1968, and of postmodernity. Abstracting and universalizing the problem in this way, however, risks returning discussion to the old, ideologically charged question of whether Japan ever created "citizens." Rather than testing events in Tokyo against universal definitions of civil society and democracy, in the chapters that follow I will maintain the focus at ground level, on the city as a place where people cohabit, a spatial frame for human action and sensibility. From this perspective, this is a story about shifting appropriations. There are many ways to occupy and claim urban space, including marching (making it a space of mass politics), selling and buying goods or services (making it a marketplace), gathering to interact with friends and strangers (making it a public square in the Bakhtinian sense), foraging (treating it as commons in the pre-urban sense), and clearing and building upon it (claiming a piece of it as frontier to be exploited). An era of organized mass gatherings in Tokyo had its spaces and contests over space-in Hibiya and other parks, the palace plaza, and the grounds of the Diet Building. The struggles and the failure of Anpo 1960 ushered in a decade of spontaneous, focused gatherings, which ultimately found, appropriated, and fought for Shinjuku West Exit Underground Plaza. When this moment had passed, an era began of more diverse and disparate gatherings of people, initiating contests around local community, marginal spaces, and the vestiges of the city's past.
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