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Book Review Destiny: The Secret Operations of the Yodogo – Exiles, by Ko – ji Takazawa. Edited and translated by Patricia G. Steinhoff. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2017. 452 pages. $70.00 cloth. If, as is widely understood, the Japanese public wondered little for three decades about the fate of the nine Japanese student/radicals who in the early spring of 1970 hijacked a passenger-laden, commercial airplane destined for Fukuoka, commandeered its diversion to North Korea, and, for a long time thereafter,largelyslippedintotheblackholeofmysteryandenigmathatisthe DemocraticPeople’s Republicof Korea (DPRK), that wonder’s shortfallwas abundantly compensated for by the relentless, consuming interest of freelance journalist Kōji Takazawa in the last of those decades. A contemporary himself of the student/radicals who had stolen the plane, terrorized for a time their compatriots, and taken refuge in their nation’s nearby arch-enemy state, indeed, like them too, a former Red Army Faction member,Takazawa,fromthetimeoftheTiananmenSquareproteststhrough to the century’s near-end, pursued patiently and yet steadily—by means forensic, ruminative, and journalistic—the questions that most concerned him and his generational contemporaries vis-à-vis the hijacking nine’s rude act of rebellion and disappearance: their status and style of life in North Korea, the means and depth of their brainwashing, their relations with their Korean Studies © 2019 by University of Hawai‘i Press. All rights reserved. 1 virulentlyanti-Japanesehosts,theusestowhichthosehostshadputthem,the possibility of their involvement in the (rumored at that time, but since then confirmed) kidnapping of Japanese citizens by North Korea in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and, most important to Takazawa, the connection, if any, between their in-captivity enthrallment with juche—the DPRK’s allencompassing philosophy, politic, ethic, and playbook—and their prior, first attachment to radical New Left ideology. The culminating product of this long investigation was the monumental history/meditation/cat-and-mouse, journalistic procedural/blockbuster/ exposé Shukumei: Yodogō Bomeishatachi no Himitsu Kosaku. Published in 1998, the work was both celebrated and regretted in Japan. For its scope, thoroughness,andbolddeparturefromJapan’sregnantjournalisticculture— kisha kurabu (press club culture)—wherein no single newsgatherer was allowed to get too far ahead of his or her colleagues nor to challenge their narratives—as well as, too, for its effective straddling of the divide between fiction and nonfiction, it was awarded the 1999 Kodansha Prize for Nonfiction. On the other hand, the book drewa virulently negative response from an important, albeit minority, portion of the Japanese reading public. Ironically, the offended were not those who had written off the hijackers as theworst,traitorousfruitsofamisguidedgeneration,but,instead,readerslike Takazawahimself,thatis,thosewhohadfor yearsstalwartlyclungtothefond hopethatsomeremnantofallthatwasaspirationalinthehijackingnine’sbold act of Marxist/Socialist, anti-institutional rebellion on the last day of March 1970 was still to be found in them. Indeed, loudest in the Japanese crowd put off by the book were those who had been working to facilitate the hijackers’ repatriation by giving them credit for, rather than holding against them, the counter-establishment idealism that had been their generation’s defining, if regrettable, trait in and around 1969–1970. For these repatriating folks, an unconscionable stab in the back by one of their own was this large handful of unflattering revelationsaboutthehijackersadvancedbyTakazawa’stext:their palatial lodging in the DPRK’s supposed “workers’ paradise”; their having abandoned completely their New Left ideologies in favor of juche; their complicity in the rumored kidnappings; their involvement as couriers in NorthKorea’sseveralEuropean black-marketandmoneylaundering rackets of the 1980s and 1990s; their having been at the very least complicit in the murdering of one of their own group’s members; and, lastly, their fifthcolumn intentions, once returned to Japan, for the makeover of their home state in juche’s bizarre, millennial lights. To be sure, these were “revelations” about the hijackers that the group’s support base in Japan should have long been aware of; however, having denied them each and all in the earlier 2 Korean Studies 2019 instances of their appearance, they denied them once again when they saw them in aggregate in Shukumei. Now some twenty years after that brouhaha’s subsiding, and almost fifty years beyond the original hijacking, Patricia Steinhoff, a leading authority on Japan’s New Left agitations of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1529
Print ISSN
0145-840X
Launched on MUSE
2018-08-30
Open Access
No
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