Table of Contents
Natsuo Kirino’s novel Along the Night Valley is based on interviews with participants of the United Red Army incidents (ignited by a Japanese leftist organization in 1972–1973). It presents the unique idea that some women involved in the incidents had planned to build a “commune for children that they would bear and nurture into revolutionary fighters.”
Due to police crackdowns, the United Red Army gradually shifted its forum of activities from the city to the mountains. The Army’s members began living in unbelievable circumstances, which included pregnant women and women with children participating in firearms training while those who assisted in child-bearing and care were treated unjustly.
Along the Night Valley repeatedly covers themes related to family and childbirth. The novel describes the varied ways in which these women lived with their families after the collapse of the United Red Army; one quarreled with family members after confessing her past, while another completely hid her past from her family.
Takaya Shiomi, a member of the United Red Army, argues that the group collapsed because it turned into a “miniature society” after moving to the mountains. On the other hand, Toshio Fujimoto, the former activist and founder of the Association for Protecting the Earth, believes that activism in cities is insufficient for a successful revolution. Indeed, Fujimoto attempted to build a community based on “food” and “agriculture”; this was an attempt to keep the community alive, which the United Red Army failed to do.
The idea of establishing a “commune of women for raising the next generation of revolutionary soldiers,” as depicted by Kirino, focuses on the survival of the community, which was neglected by the leaders of the United Red Army. In that sense, the United Red Army incidents relate to the theme of “secession and independence” that is repeatedly discussed in this series.