FW: Petition for Waseda University Affair

Thomas Lamarre thomas.lamarre
Tue Jan 17 13:41:52 EST 2006

A Statement of Protest


Around noon on December 20th 2005, on the campus of Waseda University in
Tokyo, a person was distributing flyers protesting some university reforms.
Suddenly seven to eight professors and officials of the Literature
Department surrounded him and took him to the office of the security
services. The police were called in by the professors to arrest him on the
claim of intrusion of private property.

     We believe that this incident is more than a local episode and should
be cause for alarm: it is not just a matter of one university, but of the
entire university system and Japanese society today. Moreover, the action
taken at Waseda University recalls an earlier history of university
repression that had taken place on a worldwide scale. What the event at
Waseda dramatizes is a sad and instructive example of how the last remaining
stronghold for protecting the freedom of expression simply decided to
abdicate its responsibility and abandon its principal vocation. The larger
consequence of the Waseda incident reveals a dangerous  tendency today of
society?s determination to erase the last ethical line between the domain of
free inquiry and critical space from the interest of the state that needs to
be defended. 

     We hereby protest the unlawful treatment of the person and call upon
your support to strongly demand an apology from Waseda University.


We are writing this letter at the request of our friend Takashi Sakai who is
a graduate of Waseda University and now a professor of Comparative Culture
at Osaka Prefecture University. He is involved in the above-mentioned
protest and asked us to distribute information about the event among
American intellectuals and activists. In Japan, the neo-liberalist
university reform has become a dominant current, and Waseda University,
which was once known for its ?free spirit,? has now evolved into an epitome
of the ?university of control,? where business objectives overpower all
other considerations, and students? extracurricular activities, a tradition
nurtured in the post World War II history, have become the main target of
oppression. This policy of oppression has been directed at those students
involved in socio-political activism, and treats them as anomalies that must
be excluded. In response to these circumstances, people are beginning to
call attention to the purpose of universities and the function of the kind
of knowledge they are committed to teaching.

As we all are aware, in America too, under the rule of neo-liberalism, that
so-called public space is disappearing; it is becoming increasingly more
difficult to express one?s political and social convictions in parks,
squares, and even universities, which are also fully affected now. For
instance, at New York University, the just demand of the graduate students
for their unionizination is being met with a sheer oppression by the
administration. What the current NYU incident plainly illustrates is the
relentless corporatization of universities and the determination of
administrations and large numbers of faculty to prohibit students from
vocalizing their own interests. We believe that it is time to take this
global tendency seriously and share  information concerning the situation of
universities around  the world. To begin with, we would like your statement
of support; it would be a great help to have your names, in order to
pressure Waseda University as well as the police, and raise public
consciousness about the fatal effects of this global social tendency.


Harry Harootunian

Sabu Kohso




Please write --

Your name: 

Your affiliate: 

Your statement:


English website has not yet been up, so please send your information to
sabuk at earthlionk.net and mp-flow at tkf.att.ne.jp


For those who read Japanese, please visit the website:

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