Tuesday, March 25, 2008


It's always good to know that the United States isn't alone in its paranoid fears.

The Japanese government is apparently frightened to death of Antonio Negri (the very scary looking guy pictured here) whom they have effectively barred from giving some planned lectures in Japan.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports Nigri had been scheduled to give a series of lectures at the Universities of Tokyo and Kyoto and other venues in late March and early April, but was forced to abruptly cancel his trip last week after being told he would need a permit to entry the country. Italian nationals can normally travel to Japan without visas, but a Foreign Office spokesman said “political criminals” needed “special landing permits.”

Negri began his academic career as a scholar of political philosophy centering on Marx, and shaped the theoretical foundation for a new social movement known as “Autonomia” supported by the socially disadvantaged. The movement jolted all parts of Italy. Later he was accused of masterminding the kidnapping and murder of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro by the militant organization “the Red Brigades” and plotting to overthrow the government. Shortly afterward, although no link was ever established between Negri and the Red Brigades, he was convicted for his political activities and critical discourse against the government.

During his imprisonment awaiting trial, he announced his candidacy for and was elected to the Italian legislature. Owing to parliamentary privilege, he was permitted to leave prison, but this was abrogated a few months later. Before being arrested, he sought for political asylum in Paris. During his exile in Paris he was engaged in global intellectual movements and prolific political writings.

Later, he voluntarily returned to Italy to serve his remaining sentences and was released from prison in 2003 after serving his full sentence of 17 years.

The following is from Japan Today.

Academics protest Japan's handling of Negri's visit

A group of Japanese academics who had planned for a lecture by Italian Marxist political philosopher Antonio Negri issued a joint statement Monday in protest of Japan’s ‘‘effective refusal of entry’’ and criticized the act as a violation of freedom of thought.

‘‘While we were told in consultations with the Foreign Ministry in advance that there was no need for Negri to apply for a visa, we were suddenly requested to do so three days before he was scheduled to enter Japan,’’ said Yoshihiko Ichida, a Kobe University professor who was involved in arranging Negri’s visit. The trip by Negri, considered by many to be a symbol of anti-globalism, has been canceled as a result of the difficulties in obtaining the entry visa, the organizers said.

‘‘We were deprived of the opportunities to philosophical, academic and cultural exchanges that transcend borders and the freedom of movement, as well as freedom of belief, thought and academic knowledge of all persons involved was violated,’’ the statement said.

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