Red Flag Incident

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The Red Flag Incident (Japanese: 赤旗 事件 Akahata Jiken) refers to a political rally that took place in Tokyo, Japan on June 22 of 1908.

In the mixed political climate of the turn of the century Late Meiji-Taisho Era, a celebrated political activist and anarchist Koken Yamaguchi was discharged from a term in prison. His release was met with a crowd waving red flags carrying Anarchist Communist slogan such as Museifu Kyosan ("anarcho-communism") and Kakumei ("revolution") and a chorus of communist songs. The police attacked and suppressed the small uprising, and ten prominent activists, including Osugi Sakae, Hitoshi Yamakawa and Kanson Arahata were arrested.

In later trials, most of the arrested found guilty received sentences of one year or more, and Osugi received the longest prison term. Although this is a relatively minor event in the complicated history of Meiji politics, it gained precedence later when the incarceration of certain members of this scuffle (namely Sakae, Yamakawa and Arahata) protected them from being involved in a much harsher protest, the High Treason Incident, which resulted in a number of activists being sentenced to death.

This incident marked the beginning of the fight of the imperial government against the socialist movement in Japan.

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