The radical movement among Japanese students was brought to wide public attention with an airplane hijacking in 1970, but the escalation of student radicalism had begun a decade ago with the discussion of the U. S.-Japan Security Treaty. Political matters have formed the basis for many of the radical actions by students since then, especially from 1967 on, when the international situation in Red China, Vietnam, and North Korea became strained. But academic issues have also played a large part in the uprisings, as students have become disturbed by rising costs, entrance examinations, or the rigid hierarchy in the elite schools. The generations are perceived chronologically according to the historic watershed, the Second World War. Paradoxically, although the older generation is, in this consumer society, in charge of production, the young comprise its biggest customer group. While the status of youth as a whole has risen, that of the university student has declined. Students form the only proletariat and at the same time the only leisure class in contemporary society. Disillusioned by both the education and the life style offered them, they search for a cause to which they can commit themselves, and often find it in radicalism.
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