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LeaderYukio Mishima
Dates of operation1968–1970
Country Japan
Allegiance Emperor of Japan
IdeologyJapanese nationalism
Sizeapprox. 90

The Tatenokai (楯の会, 楯の會) or Shield Society was a private militia in Japan dedicated to traditional Japanese values and veneration of the Emperor. It was founded and led by author Yukio Mishima.


The Tatenokai was created on October 5, 1968, recruiting its membership primarily from the staff of Ronsō Journal, an obscure right-wing college newspaper. The private army was formed due to Mishima's alarm over the scale of left-wing protests in Tokyo and his recruitment advertisement were placed in right-wing newspapers.[2] There were around 100 original members, who were mostly students of Waseda University.[3] Along with outdoor activities, the members, who joined voluntarily, were subjected to rigorous physical training that included kendo and long-distance running.[3] In an unusual move, the Tatenokai was granted the right to train with the nation's armed forces, the Japan Self-Defense Forces. An account attributed this shift in Tatenokai's orientation when Mishima began associating himself with this military organization as well as his introduction to Yasuhiro Nakasone, a member of the Japanese Diet who would become the Defense Agency chief and Prime Minister.[4]

1970 coup attempt[edit]

On November 25, 1970 Mishima and four Tatenokai members briefly seized control of the Self-Defense Force's headquarters and attempted to rally the soldiers to stage a coup d'état and restore imperial rule. When this failed, Mishima and Masakatsu Morita, the Tatenokai's main student leader, committed seppuku (ritual suicide). The rest of the members, around 90 people, were not informed about Mishima's plan at all.


Inspired events[edit]

On 3 March 1977, four Japanese nationalists took 12 hostages at the Keidanren Kaikan (headquarters and hall of Japan Federation of Economic Organizations), spreading leaflets at the scene that denounced big business. The hostages were released, unharmed, after an eleven-hour standoff during which the hostage-takers spoke for more than three hours to Mishima's widow, Yoko. Two of the hostage-takers – Yoshio Ito and Shunichi Nishio – were believed to have been former members of the Tatenokai.[5][6]


  1. ^ Nicholas Bornoff, ed. (1991). Pink Samurai: The Pursuit and Politics of Sex in Japan. p. 432.
  2. ^ Thompson, Wright; Stout, Glenn (2015). The Best American Sports Writing 2015. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 236. ISBN 9780544340053.
  3. ^ a b Jannarone, Kimberly (2015). Vanguard Performance Beyond Left and Right. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. p. 95. ISBN 9780472119677.
  4. ^ Stokes, Henry Scott (2017). Fallacies in the Allied Nations' Historical Perception as Observed by a British Journalist. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 25. ISBN 9780761868095.
  5. ^ White, Edwin Q. (4 March 1977). "Japanese gunmen hold 12 hostages for 11 hours". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  6. ^ Sato, Hideaki & Inoue, Takashi (2005). 決定版 三島由紀夫全集・第42巻・年譜・書誌 [Final edition-Yukio Mishima complete works No.42-Biographical sketch and Bibliography] (in Japanese). Shinchosha. p. 344-345.