October 23, 1972: Bombing in Japan

In 1972 a Japanese leftist terrorist organisation bombed a memorial it saw as a symbol of ‘imperialist aggression’.

In 1972 a Japanese leftist terrorist organisation bombed a memorial it saw as a symbol of ‘imperialist aggression’.

HOKKAIDO, JAPAN – Acknowledging atrocities against First Nations does not justify bombing monuments.

There has been a very interesting debate developing in Canada over the past few years. The Canadian government’s history of mistreatment of the original inhabitants – what we call the First Nations – is a perennial target of criticism and demands to make amends.

As part of the dialogue, some are calling for the destruction of any statue or monument which commemorates anyone perceived – accurately or not – of having directed or participated in policies or actions which were detrimental to the First Nations. Chief among the targets is Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister. Statues have been vandalised and one was even beheaded.

There are those who counterargue that we do not atone for our history by eliminating it (full disclosure: I am of that camp). Statues and monuments are useful in setting up exchanges and dialogues and should not be taken down for whom or what they represent.

Canada is not alone in this. On occasion, actual terrorist groups have singled out monuments for destruction. A good example of such action took place in Japan in 1972.

On October 23 members of the East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front, or EAAJAF (we’ve seen them before in these pages), planned to blow up the Fusetsu no Gunzo (a bronze monument that translates to ‘Wind and Snow Group) and Institute of Northern Cultures in Hokkaido. The former was destroyed – albeit rebuilt in 1977 – but the latter was relatively unscathed.

The EAAJAF claimed that the structures were symbols of Japan’s imperialistic aggression against the Ainu, Japan’s version of the First Nations. Given that the monument was rebuilt and no one today remembers the EAAJAF what exactly did they accomplish?

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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