A memorable piece of late Cold War propaganda, this broadside was produced by the International Union of Students, a Communist-aligned international confederation of student organizations that was active in most of the world’s countries at its height.
The image is meant to agitate against a “US-Japan-South Korea Military Alliance.” Though both Japan and South Korea are military allies of the U.S., such a trilateral alliance has never existed but has been proposed in the years since Japan and South Korea normalized relations in 1965. The slogan that appears here might be in reaction to the tenure of Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro (1982 – 1987), who hewed closer to the U.S. and against the Soviet Union, for example by allowing more U.S. military personnel to be stationed in Japan.
In a revealing bit of imagery, an arrow is shown emanating from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) down into South Korea to break a bludgeon, much as DPRK troops streamed into South Korea in 1950. The arrow shreds Japanese and American flags, playing on tropes widespread in DPRK propaganda that denies agency to South Koreans, who are seen as puppets and slaves of foreign imperialists.
What at first appears to be an ink stain below the last two letters of the title is in fact Dokdo Island, an uninhabited feature claimed by Japan and both Koreas, and nowadays effectively administered by South Korea. The territorial dispute has been a sore spot in relations between Japan and South Korea in recent years and remains one of the obstacles to a closer relationship in the face of threats from the DPRK.
This print is undated but most likely dates from the mid-1980s and was probably produced at the headquarters of the International Union of Students in Prague. We have been able to identify three other examples of it (with slightly differing titles), held by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the University of Massachusetts Boston, and the University of Kansas.