"I should be angry at you, but I pity you instead."
May 11, 2017 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Kanno Sugako, an early-20th century Japanese anarcha-feminist and the only woman to be hanged for treason in Japan, kept a diary in prison during the final days of her life. These entries range from detailed reporting of the trial of her and 25 other Japanese anarchists for treason against the Emperor, her thoughts and feelings, and her determination in the face of certain death.
"You poor pitiful judges. All you wanted to do was protect your positions. To safeguard them, you handed down these verdicts even though you knew they were unlawful and arbitrary. You went against your consciences. You poor judges, poor slaves of the government. I should be angry at you, but I pity you instead. Here I am bound by this barred window, but my thoughts still spread their wings in the free world of ideas. Nothing can bind my thoughts or interfere with them. You may live for a hundred years, but what is a life without freedom, a life of slavery, worth? You poor slaves."
Anarchism in Japan was mostly an early 20th century phenomenon, with anarchists attempting to organize at a time when any dissent against the Emperor was often regarded as treason. Today, anarchism has considerably less pull in Japan, but it's still around.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane (9 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Oh so heartbreaking.
posted by congen at 7:37 AM on May 11, 2017

I described the kind of coffin I wanted made for me and how I wanted to be dressed after death. I was afraid that the supporters of the emperor and champions of patriotism might dig up my corpse and hack it to bits. I did not want to look too shabby when this happened.

She reminds me of Louise Michel.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:51 AM on May 11, 2017 [6 favorites]

Any idea who translated this?
posted by My Dad at 8:33 AM on May 11, 2017

It's a pity that prosecutor Taketomi Wataru doesn't seem to have written her biography, as he (probably manipulatively?) suggested he might do.
posted by clawsoon at 9:08 AM on May 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I became interested in Japanese anarchism after reading a biography of Osugi Sakae in grad school. This is exciting and excellent, thanks!
posted by absalom at 10:16 AM on May 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I knew nothing about any of this; thanks for the post. (The founder of Japanese anarchism was a Wobbly!)
posted by languagehat at 10:56 AM on May 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Holy shit. Great post.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:48 AM on May 12, 2017

Neat! I just found out about this group of present-day anarchists/activists in Tokyo:
“Shiroto No Ran” (‘Amateur’s riot’ in Japanese) is a young activist group whose activities are based in Koenji, a local city area in Tokyo. Their purpose: the liberation of the street based on the idea of “autonomy” in a sphere of life and the “recovery of totality of human life”
One of their core projects is No Limit
Everywhere you look in the world, there is a bunch of bullshit going on. Superrich global elites are infesting the world with their influence, and war, murder, and racism are unceasing. But on the other hand, all around Asia there are people doing as they please, making music, art, and mysterious spaces, saying “we won’t be swept up with the dominant current of the world so easily, we’re gonna do the things we want to do in our own way” in a growing underground manuke cultural area. And in recent years, there has been a bunch more back and forth between mysterious outcasts and good-for-nothings recklessly rambling around Asia. When it becomes like this, even if the world is a total disaster, its nothing more than a fart for the manuke cultural sphere. Even in the case of emergency, we can find places to sleep and food without hassle and to top it off, we can hang out and party with no limit. This time will be like a dry run for outrageous folks from all over Asia to gather all at once in Tokyo and make an autonomous zone appear while holding exhibitions, screenings, concerts, talks, useless classes, merchandise sales, drinking parties and the like!
posted by spamandkimchi at 12:09 PM on May 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

Any idea who translated this?

This appears to be the 1988 translation by Mikiso Hane.
posted by shenderson at 7:48 PM on May 14, 2017

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