In 1957 Víctor García, considered by some to be the Marco Polo of the international anarchist movement (because of his extensive travels), visited Japan where he was welcomed by Taiji Yamaga, with whom he spent three months travelling to many cities and towns in the archipelago being introduced to most of the survivors of the Japanese libertarian movement. On his second visit in 1974, Víctor García interviewed more old and new militants to glean the material for this his magnum opus on Japanese anarchism, Museifushugi. Translated from the Spanish by Paul Sharkey and edited, and substantially expanded and enhanced by ‘Wat Tyler’, an English teacher, a comrade, living in Osaka, Museifushugi, was originally scheduled for publication in 1981 by Cienfuegos Press but was scrapped when the printer ‘lost’ the corrected galleys in a fire and refused to re-set the book, a costly setback which effectively bankrupted Cienfuegos Press. In 2013, over 30 years later, we salvaged the proofs and re-set the text, which has been further updated by Wat Tyler who still lives and works in Japan.
This edition includes the second half of Victor Garcia and Wat Tyler’s short history of the Japanese anarchist movement, covering the postwar years from 1945 onward. Following a brief chapter on anarchist and other subversive activities in Japan during World War II, and another chapter introducing some of the characters that Garcia was told about during his initial fact-finding visit to Japan, chapter 23 and subsequent chapters resume the story of the Japanese anarchists following the end of the Pacific War in August, 1945. One or two points need to be made at the outset.
Readers familiar with the original edition of the book will notice that the chapters dealing with the postwar labour movement, the political situation in the 1970s, the student movement and so on, in other wrds those chapters not directly relevant to the postwar anarchists’ story, have been omitted. Most of the information contained in those chapters, already dated when the first English edition appeared in 1978, has little meaning for the current situation, and an editorial decision was taken to omit them altogether.
In addition, a further decision was made to end the story in 1968, when the Japan Anarchist Federation formally and finally disbanded. This is not to say that there have been no anarchist activities since that time, and a brief summary of those activities has been provided in a supplementary chapter. The past few years in particular have seen increasing numbers of young Japanese identifying as anarchists and pointing to government itself as the cause of Japan’s apparently-unending woes. Unfortunately, there has been no unified network that could bind those activities into a cohesive narrative.
When Garcia’s book originally appeared, and even when the English translation was being prepared in the late 1970s, the book was a trail-blazer since there was still very little information to be found in English concerning the Japanese anarchist movement. In the years since then, more and more information has found its way into print, while the better-known anarchist figures such as Kôtoku Shûsui and Ôsugi Sakae have received attention from researchers in various parts of the world. Victor Garcia’s book continues to have meaning, however, not only because it was a trail-blazer but also because much of the information it contains came directly from the mouths of Japanese anarchists themselves, who saw both Victor Garcia’s original book project and the new edition by Wat Tyler as a chance to tell the world their still little-known story. The result was a focus not merely on the more celebrated figures in the anarchist movement, who were mostly intellectuals, but also on the unknown figures whose story would otherwise most likely have been submerged by the tides of history. The revised version of the book, edited by “Wat Tyler” (aka. Phil Billingsley), while bringing the text up to date and adding more detail, has sought to maintain Victor Garcia’s original focus.
Readers are recommended to read the prewar section before turning to this postwar section, as many of the figures and events mentioned here are introduced in more detail on earlier pages. The numbering of the notes and of the chapters continues from the prewar section.