Radical Outcasts versus Three Kinds of Police: Constructing Limits in Japanese Anti-Emperor Protests

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Field observation of anti-emperor protests in Japan reveals two key processes through which the interaction of police and demonstrators gradually narrows the limits of permitted dissent through soft repression. The first process stigmatizes demonstration participants and sharply separates them from the mainstream of Japanese public life, discouraging public attention to or participation in their causes. The second process divides protest movements internally, decreasing support for groups that operate at the prevailing limit of tolerated dissent, and gradually constricting the limit itself. Great variability in police-demonstrator interactions within demonstrations suggests the limitations of newspaper content analysis methods for such research.

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