Between the decline of mass protests in the 1970s and the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima nuclear meltdown in the 2010s, which resulted in the resurgence of mass demonstrations, social movements were widely regarded as uncommon in Japan. In this essay, the author reviews Japan’s social movement studies in the last decade, focusing on the influence of the lack of mass protest since the 1970s on scholarly interests. The essay examines the following four topics: (1) slow responses to the resurgence of mass demonstrations in post-3.11 Japan, (2) quick responses to the rise of the radical right movement, (3) the emergence of cynical approaches to studying social movements, and (4) the redemption of the history of Japan’s postwar social movements. Despite some twists and turns, we can see how social protests are a perpetual element of Japanese society that sociologists study as a common phenomenon.
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