Heimin Undo

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Heimin Undo


(Commoner’s Movement), the name used in progressive Japanese sources for the antimilitarist democratic movement in Japan at the beginning of the 20th century. Heimin Undo primarily involved the progressive intelligentsia, but socialists also played an active role. The movement opposed Japanese imperialism in Korea and China and protested against the Russo-Japanese War.

At the center of the movement was the Heiminsha (Commoner’s Society), whose founders included S. Katayama, D. Kotoku, and T. Sakai. Established in 1903, the Heiminsha was broken up by the police in October 1905. Katayama, Kotoku, Sakai, and other members of the Shakaishugi Kyokai (Socialist Society) exposed the expansionist aims of the war, protested against Japanese militarism, and demanded the repeal of reactionary laws and the introduction of universal suffrage and democratic freedoms. Branches of the Heiminsha were established in 25 provincial cities, and democratic leagues and societies were formed throughout the country. The press organs of the Heimin Undo were the newspaper Heimin shimbun and its successor Tyokugen (The Mouthpiece), which was shut down by the police in October 1905.

Heimin Undo failed to establish strong ties with the working class and pursued a vague program that called for “liberty, equality, and fraternity.” Its leaders attacked militarism primarily from a liberal pacifist position. Heimin Undo was, nevertheless, an important stage in the history of the democratic and socialist movement in Japan.


Ivanova, G. D. Delo ob oskorblenü trona. Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.