A common perception abroad is that Japanese society is docile. This is partly thanks to Western writers who tried to create a single profile of the Japanese in the early to mid-20th century, such as Ruth Benedict in her 1946 book “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.” Today, this dangerous myth of consensus is still propagated by similar outside observers — and welcomed by Japan’s right.

British-born translator William Andrews combats this myth in “Dissenting Japan,” his recent history of the postwar Japanese left. This much-needed book addresses a range of groups engaged in revolutionary politics, radical protests and counter-culture. In doing so, it provides a perspective on Japanese society that is rarely covered in English.

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