Kojin-bashi Incident (荒神橋事件)

The Kojin-bashi Incident is an incident that occurred on November 11, 1953, where a group of Kyoto University student demonstrators who had been marching up to the large-scale meeting at the Hirokoji campus of Ritsumeikan University, had a collision with the police on Kojin-bashi Bridge (Kyoto City).

Gakuen Fukko Kaigi (the University Revival Meeting) and 'Wadatsumi-zo Statue'

In 1953, the Japanese universities hadn't recovered yet from the damage during the War, and as the Korean War started, the education budget was cut for re-buildup of armaments, so universities students had to bear poor conditions for studies. The autonomy of universities was restricted as well by the government in the period of the Red Purge (by GHQ/SCAP).
That year, the central committee of the Japan Students Autonomous Union planned to hold 'the Gakuen Fukko Kaigi' at three universities in Kyoto City for five days, with the slogan 'the Revival of Clean Universities by the Union of Professors, Staff, and Students.'

The chosen universities as places for the meetings were Kyoto University, Doshisha University and Ritsumeikan University (the then campus was located at Hirokoji-dori Street, the west shore of the Kamo-gawa River of Yodogawa River system in Kyoto City), however, Kyoto University authorities (President Shunjiro HATTORI) didn't permit the use of classroom number one of the faculty of law and economics, and called the police to remove protesting students, as a result, an explosive atmosphere remained between the authorities and the students, especially the students' association 'Dogakukai' of Kyoto University (although the Dogakukai had been forced to dissolve after the Kyodai Tenno Incident of 1951, in the early summer of 1953 it had just been reorganized by a vote in which all the students had been involved). The Gakuen Fukko Kaigi started on November 8 at the Meitoku-kan Hall of Doshisha University, and a large number of students came from all over the country.

Before that, due to the President of Ritsumeikan University Hiroshi SUEKAWA's effort, Ritsumeikan University had decided to accept the 'Wadatsumi-zo Statue' to the campus (the statue was to memorialize the Students' Departure to the Front, and originally it had been planned for Tokyo University, however the authorities of Tokyo University had rejected the offer).

Process of the incident

On November 11, the fourth day of the Gakuen Fukko Kaigi, the Wadatsumi-zo Statue was delivered to Ritsumeikan University, and students, holding the statue at the head of a parade, marched in Kyoto City, showing their welcome. On the same day, some students of Kyoto University had been protesting against the authorities who hadn't permitted the use of the campus till the end; after the protest finished, a group of about 100 students started marching to join the parade of Ritsumeikan University students and to participate in the Gakuen Fukko Kaigi (that day it was held at Ritsumeikan University); through Konoe-dori Street they were about to go across Kojin-bashi Bridge above the Kamo-gawa River (Yodogawa River system) toward the campus of Ritsumeikan University which was located right across the bridge.

At about 4:45, on the bridge, the march was stopped by the Kyoto City Police which regarded the march as an illegal demonstration, then a clash occurred, it turned into a tussle, and the south rail of the bridge (wooden rails at that time) broke and fell down. As the students in the front had been stuck between students and officers, fifteen students fell into the shallow water and as a result seven students were injured either slightly or seriously including fractures.

Students' protest at the headquarters of the Kyoto City Police and the police's reaction

Although the other students joined in the Gakuen Fukko Kaigi after the incident, the meeting turned into an urgent protest against the authorities of the Kyoto City Police, and they voted on a demonstration at the headquarters of the City Police. At nine p.m. about 600 students started a protest in front of the headquarters of the City Police, however it was soon broken up by tear bombs and so on; the students gathered again after ten o'clock and formed a delegation to request the Chief of the City Police to meet them. However, more than 200 officers suddenly attacked the students without warning; as a result, seventy students were injured either slightly or seriously including lacerations of the scalp.

Punishment for the students' acts

The authorities of Kyoto University were also severe with the students' protest. On November 17, the authorities called the police to remove protesting students who had been sitting in the headquarters (the clock tower on campus). On December 1, they regarded the students' indefinite strike, which had been voted on by the Dogakukai, as a violation of the President's notice, and punished the Dogakukai and six delegates of the students' association of Yoshida campus (the faculty of liberal arts) by suspension from the university for an indefinite period and so on. A student of the faculty of literature, Rei MATSUURA, who had made an effort to hold the Gakuen Fukko Kaigi as a member of the central executive committee, was punished most heavily, expelled from the university (heavier than suspension) (Matsuura is considered not to have been involved in the demonstration at Kojin-bashi Bridge; later he entered the same faculty of the same university and graduated, becoming a modern Japanese historian).

[Original Japanese]