It has been over 30 years since the Cultural Revolution (CR) began in 1966. The Cultural
Revolution remains of paramount importance in Chinese history, equal to the Japan-Qing
war, the Japan-China war, and the establishment of the People's Republic of China, in its
impact on Chinese society.
In the Academic Community
Japan is one of the most affected by the Cultural Revolution in terms of foreign
experience. From around February in 1966, the news of the "criticism against
literature" appeared in newspapers with a rumor that "Mao is badly sick".
In August, articles on the Cultural Revolution mainly about the Red Guards' movement
filled the newspapers.
Chinese students were divided by whether they agreed with the Cultural Revolution or not.
There was difference in recognition about conditions and a conflict between Chinese
communist and Japanese - which was a matter of national pride and heritage. However the
(CR) was more about changing old values in the place of new values, while at the same time
it aimed at creating a pure socialist society, both self-sufficient and self-sustaining.
It was partly because there was restriction in communication that vague speculation about
the Cultural Revolution spread. In those days, China controlled the media more strictly
than they do now. The media was a means to control politics in China, so the Chinese
Government kept tight control over what the people and the rest of the world saw.
Basically, people were forced to read and accept whatever the CCP told them-and such is
the nature of a Communist regime.
Only advocates for the Cultural Revolution could enter China, even journalists were exiled
if they wrote articles against the Cultural Revolution. Under such conditions there were
misunderstandings caused by the lack of information. But it was the individual's
"ability to see" that the truth depended on. Even a student of China who visited
China then mentioned, "Without the ability to see, what occurred in China now
couldn't be understood even in China. One having the ability to see can understand even in
The Cultural Revolution affected more than the field of study of China. It was the just at
the time of full student activity that in 1966 the Cultural Revolution formally started.
In those days in Japan, policies for technology and encouraging talent were penetrating
universities and universities were being changed according to the government's needs.
In Campus Activity
Against such a change in universities, the young were swift to respond, reacting against
government. That was campus activism. It was especially active with a group called
Among the Zenkyoto, it was only the Japanese Marxist-Leninist Union, namely ML-group, that
showed Maoism clearly. ML groups maintained "It is victory through violent
battles", and displayed the portrait of Mao at a gate of Tokyo University.
Indeed a background of sympathy was prepared in Japan in those days, but the conditions in
Japan were completely different from those of China. Between the nations, tools and
atmosphere of the Cultural Revolution like "reasonable rebels",
"democracy", "revolutionary violence", "commune" and so on
was peculiarly matched. Therefore it was not a portrait of any other man, but that of Mao
that was displayed at the gate of Tokyo University. In January 1969, the activity of
Zenkyoto came to an end. It was a peculiar sympathy between Japan and China; neither
communicated at all.
Morgue: "The Cultural Revolution and Japan" written by Tadao Hurumaya