183. Telegram From the Embassy in Japan to the Department of State 0
4271. Manila for Parsons and Goodpaster. CINCPAC and HICOMRYIS for POLADs. Embtel 4242 to Dept 227 Manila.1 Dominant impression of yesterday’s strikes and demonstrations (including worst student violence yet in assault on Diet involving one death and some 600 injured) is that militant-leftist students are beyond all control and constitute serious challenge to govt. In essence, student demonstrations stem from fanatical minority group of students (Zengakuren) thoroughly indoctrinated by their Communist leaders.
Problem has been complicated by division of Zengakuren into Trotskyite and orthodox Communist factions with pressures within each group to outdo the other. Police under GOJ instructions leaned over backward in recent weeks to keep student demonstrations under control by mere presence, no resort to nightsticks, and above all by avoiding any student martyrdoms, which would provide emotional field-day for leftist press and tender-hearted Japanese public.
Sohyo mainstream leadership still partly sensitive to general public opinion and attempting to keep actions of membership within bounds [Page 365] of public toleration. About 650 thousand Sohyo Unionists participated in yesterday’s work stoppages, rallies and demonstrations (against Sohyo’s claim of 5.8 million). Unions were successful in halting freight traffic on national railways in 12 key centers throughout country, and private rail and bus lines were struck from early morning until about 6:30 am, occasioning little inconvenience except to very early morning commuters. City buses and streetcars in Tokyo reduced service about 20 percent before 8:00 am.
Only violence reported was clash between Unionists and National Railways security guards at Hamamatsu, where Unionists conducted sitdown on main Tokaido line tracks.
Other Sohyo public service workers, including postal workers, telecommunications workers, government office workers, and teachers, limited actions to one hour shop rallies during morning working hours. Essential services were not significantly disrupted.
Most of Sohyo’s private industry unions reportedly conducted shop rallies, although small number of workers also took leave to participate in outside rallies and demonstrations. An estimated 160,000 members of coal miners union and metal miners union conducted 24-hour strike, only instance of full strike activity reported yet.
In contrast to this quiet and generally ineffective agitation by Sohyo and People’s Council during day was bloody conflict between police and 7,500 Trotskyite mainstream Zengakuren students, who converged on Diet throughout afternoon.
While mainstream faction assembled around Diet, smaller group from anti-mainstream demonstrated near Embassy but attempted no violence, later proceeding to metropolitan police headquarters for speeches. Diet was under siege from about 3:30. Before Zengakuren assault on Diet there was a side incident shortly after 5 pm when one of two trucks carrying rightist students bore down on leftist crowd. Melee ensued with police eventually restoring order. Shortly thereafter Zengakuren massed before Diet compound entrance, stormed gates and swarmed into compound in three successive waves, attacking police lines with long poles, clubs, stones, bricks and fire. In first wave students with long poles jabbed police who were behind Diet gates in wave driving them back so that main assault force could demolish gates and open way into Diet compound. Students then set fire to police vehicles. Police fought back with fire hoses, nightsticks and finally tear gas, first time latter used since May Day riot in 1952. About 7 pm, while police battling main body of students at compound gates, secondary force of students gained entrance into Diet employees’ building, doing considerable property damage before being forced out by police. During course of [Page 366] these affrays students seized and turned over or set fire to several police trucks which had formed part of barricade inside Diet gate.
Police confirmed death of one woman student2 (university professor’s daughter who had previously been taken into custody at time of Haneda riot in January). Total injured (police figures): 260 students, 536 police (36 serious injuries).
Shortly after midnight June 16 cabinet met in emergency session and issued statement saying violence was planned destructive action by Communists in keeping with international Communist aims of world domination.
Left-wing leaders immediately sought to blame Kishi cabinet for ramming security treaty through lower house. Statements charged police and rightist “hoodlums” with “violent suppression of peaceful demonstration”. Sohyo SecGen Akira Iwai called police actions “fascist oppression”. JSP SecGen Saburo Eda also protested police violence and renewed demand that Kishi resign and Diet be dissolved. Mainstream Zengakuren Vice Chairman Tokuo Onda called on 350,000 students to boycott classes in protest against deaths of “several” students in June 15 riot.
Typical of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] intellectual and university community was rodent-like statement by Kaya, President Tokyo University, which regretted violent incident and professed no sympathy with students, but said Govt should nevertheless reflect on fact that students compelled by beliefs to go to “such extremes”, adding university authorities cannot control students until abnormal situation outside schools is rectified. One Meiji University professor quoted as saying his school should be closed till Kishi and metropolitan police chief resign. Professor in Rikkyo University described mob action as “heroic and historic” and urged students to storm Diet again.
Japanese press June 16 unanimously condemned excesses of students, but as usual qualified editorial condemnations with admonitions to govt, placing “primary” blame on students and demanding continued “reflection” by govt.
Further demonstrations led by Communist-controlled People’s League against revision of security treaty are slated for this afternoon with renewal of violence almost certain.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 894.062/6–1660. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Manila, Taipei, COMUS/Japan, CINCPAC, and HICOMRYIS.↩
- Telegram 4242, 6 p.m., June 15, contained a preliminary report of strikes and demonstrations taking place that day. (Ibid., 894.062/6–1560) See Supplement.↩
- Michiko Kamba, a student of Tokyo University.↩