/23 Japan

Takashi Hamaguchi

Students Radicals and Narita

Between the late 1960s and late 1970s Takashi Hamaguchi dcumented as photojournalist two dissident movements–the student struggle and the protests against the construction of Narita Airport.

Takashi Hamaguchi began working as a photographer in the 1950s and captured numerous social and political struggles, major incidents and historical turning points. Hamaguchi was not simply interested in reportage, but also the essence of these rising social issues. To maintain his own autonomy in making photographs, he worked freelance instead of belonging to a newspaper or news agency.

The student movement, which was reignited in various regions starting in the mid-1960s, in most cases was initially based on local student struggles. In the latter half of the 1960s, however, the student movement in Japan, in response to rigid responses from universities and intervention from the state and riot police, and in line with the global phenomenon of Student Power, would transform to become one that critiqued and negated existing power structures and politics. The direct actions of the Zenkyoto (All-Campus Joint Struggle League), which included the blockading of main buildings on campuses and barricade strikes, became increasingly radicalized in its methods.

In 1966, Sanrizuka-Shibayama was named the site for the construction of Narita Airport, administration’s most important agenda, in a sudden Cabinet decision. The local farmers aggressively protested the government’s ignoring of local demands and the public corporation’s attitude and launched a protest movement. Students supported the movement, which soon clashed violently with the riot police. The intense struggle, which led to bloodshed, also intensified the contemporary student movement.

That students on university campuses, places designed for academic study, were wearing helmets and fighting with wooden sticksseems unthinkable, but as I went into the field and took a closer look, it became clear that they had reasons to revolt. (…)I was driven to shoot simply by a sense of mission, which told me that I had to document and disseminate the situation.

Takashi Hamaguchi, “Reflections on shooting”, University Struggle Towards ANPO 70,Yuzankaku,1969, p.189

from Takashi Hamaguchi “Dissidents”, Taka Ishii gallery press release