Cornell University Press

Christopher Gerteis on Japanese Youth Radicalism

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We asked author Christopher Gerteis three questions about his new book, Mobilizing Japanese Youth: The Cold War and the Making of the Sixties Generation, and his research on youth radicalism in Japan since 1960.

1. What’s your favorite anecdote from your research for this book?

I once spent a the afternoon drinking beer and betting on the motorboat races to get a feel for the sport. It was a great day. I wanted to understand the attraction of a sport that, indirectly, funded a significant number of international philanthropic projects and nationalist propaganda campaigns.

2. What do you wish you had known when you started writing your book, that you know now?

I was surprised by the extent to which ideological positions between the far-right and far-left of the Sixties Generation converged—of course, I was writing from the position that the New Right and New Left shared a common notion of gender roles, but was a bit shocked when I read about Sixties leftists and rightists coming together on their shared opposition to the Japanese alliance with the US. In retrospect, I should not have been. But it was among the many things I learned as I was reading the sources.

3. How do you wish you could change the field of History?

I still want historians to pay closer attention to the inter-connectedness of gender and class. We all pay lip service to the two, but there are a lot of us still not discussing it when it matters.

*Featured photo from Unsplash.

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Christopher Gerteis is Associate Professor of Contemporary Japanese History at SOAS University of London and Associate Professor and Academic Editor at the University of Tokyo’s Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia. He is the author of Gender Struggles.

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