'The Captivity Epistles of ‘69' by Dr. Chris Perkins (University of Edinburgh)
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On 20th April 1969, students at the University of Tokyo published a collection of self-styled ‘Captivity Epistles’, letters written by student radicals imprisoned during the 1968/69 university campus battles. These Captivity Epistles, the title a reference to a collection of four letters written by St. Paul (Philippians, Philemon, Colossians and Ephesians) while imprisoned in Rome, were justified in the first edition as a method of ‘overcoming the thick wall of power’ and facilitate ‘human’ communication and solidarity between the ‘captives’ and society as a whole. This paper will explore these Epistles, asking how they help us understand the motivations of the student radicals, how the students tried to engage with the wider public through this medium, and how the publication fit into the next phase of their struggle: the ‘battle through the courts’.
Dr Chris Perkins is a Senior Lecturer in Japanese at the University of Edinburgh. His research covers the history of the Japanese student movement, Japanese media, and post-war Japan-Korea relations.