Introduction: Japan and the High Treason Incident
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In January 1911 in Tokyo, twelve people - eleven men and one woman - were executed for the crime of high treason (taigyakuzai) after being judged guilty of plotting to assassinate the Emperor Meiji. These were the first prosecutions for that crime under the newly enacted Japanese Criminal Code of 1908. The leaders of the putative plot - Kotoku Shilsui and his partner, Kanno Suga - were journalists, activists and intellectual leaders of the fledgling socialist movement in Japan. After years of struggle and repression, Kotoku and Kanno had gradually come to embrace an anarchist philosophy of direct action. Although the twentyfour other defendants were also members of the socialist movement, some had only a tenuous connection to Kotoku and Kanno. The incident received international attention in the mainstream media and in leftist circles at the time, and is still seen as an important juncture in the history of modem Japan. In this volume, we explore the historical implications of the dramatic events which have come to be known as the high treason incident (taigyakujiken).