Sunflower students and Zengakuren

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By Joe Hhung

All student protesters from the Sunflower Movement left the Assembly Hall of the Legislative Yuan on Thursday, ending their hijacking of the parliament. Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting, the two leaders of the movement that aimed to scrap the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement between Taiwan and China, have vowed to continue their fight against the passage of the pact signed in Shanghai on June 21 last year. They have also promised to carry on the Sunflower Movement all over Taiwan to see to it that a statute governing the oversight of cross-strait agreements is enacted as they wish and the lawmakers closely review the service trade pact after the statute goes into force. They seem to be attempting to form a student organization against President Ma Ying-jeou, like the Zengakuren of Japan against Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi in 1960. Zengakuren (全學連) whose English name is Japan Federation of Students’ Self-Government Associations, is best known throughout the world for its protest against the ratification by the Japanese Diet of the revised Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan in 1960. Thousands of students turned out to mob James Haggerty, the White House spokesman who arrived in Tokyo to make final arrangements for President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s state visit to witness the exchange of instruments of ratification for the treaty as revised. On June 16, student mobs rioted and forced open the gate of the parliament. In a clash with the police, hundreds were injured and water cannons were fired to expel the mob. An emergency cabinet meeting decided to ask Eisenhower not to come to Tokyo. As a result, President Eisenhower, who was visiting Taipei, had to cancel his visit scheduled for June 20. Prime Minister Kishi, the maternal grandfather of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, resigned to take responsibility.

The Zenkakuren leaders, many of them turned politicians later, worked closely with unionists, the Japan Socialist Party and the Japan Communist Party in a united front known as the People’s Council, to express the Japanese people’s anti-Americanism. Zengakuren is a highly anti-American revolutionary group that has since been carrying on an increasingly unpopular campaign against the government, the latest being an anti-imperialism rally to topple Prime Minister Abe.

Lin and Chen are anti-Ma as much as or even more than the Zengakuren leaders of 1960 were anti-Kishi, the leader who they believed was trying to rewrite Japan’s peace Constitution to revive imperialism as a cat’s paw of the imperialistic United States. The Sunflower leaders regard President Ma as a China lover, who is trying to sell out Taiwan to the People’s Republic. They believe the service trade pact and all other agreements the Ma government has signed and will sign are instrumental to the president’s attempt to let Beijing conquer the Taiwanese economy and force the Republic of China to submit to Chinese unification.