OF THE WEST EUROPEAN
BUREAU OF THE ECCI ON THE SITUATION IN JAPAN AND THE TASKS
OF THE JAPANESE COMMUNIST PARTY
20 May 1932
May 1932 Inprekorr, xii, 42, p. 1303
JAPANESE IMPERIALISM AND THE WAR
The robber war unleashed by Japanese imperialism is plunging the masses into a new historical crisis, the greatest since the end of the world slaughter. The occupation of Manchuria, the bloody events in Shanghai and elsewhere in China, the entire military operation undertaken by Japanese robber imperialism, are, in the conditions created by the present world economic crisis, the first large-scale warlike enterprise of one of the biggest imperialist Powers. The imperialist war which has begun reflects the depth of the general as well as the economic crisis of the capitalist world, the unprecedented acuteness of all its contradictions. It opens an entire period of new political convulsions of the greatest significance. As a result of the present Japanese-Chinese events the international situation has become extremely complicated, and consequently tasks of the greatest import arise for all sections of the Comintern, and in the first place for the Japanese revolutionary proletariat and its communist vanguard.
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Bourgeois-landlord Japan's growing appetite for conquest perpetually comes into conflict with the plans and claims of the other imperialist Great Powers.
The war which Japan has begun in China makes these contradictions still more acute.
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It releases all the forces which make more threatening than ever before the danger of a new world war, the danger of a direct armed collision between Japan and America and other, if not all, imperialist Great Powers, or the most intense
preparations for such a collision.
Another dominant factor in the policy of world imperialism is the more marked attempt to create a united front of the imperialist Powers for war against the Soviet Union. We are confronted with the immediate danger of armed intervention
against the land of proletarian dictatorship. The instrument of this war is the League of Nations. By making war on the Soviet Union the international bourgeoisie and their social-democratic agents design above all to frustrate the struggle of the international proletariat for its liberation, for the revolutionary way out of the crisis.
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For the working masses of the capitalist countries, who are condemned by the crisis to unemployment, to indescribable
poverty and savage exploitation, the Soviet Union is eloquent testimony and convincing proof of the necessity to fight for the revolutionary way out of the crisis, for the annihilation of capitalism. But the imperialists are planning to shipwreck
socialist construction, to strangle the Soviet Union, and to open the way for the still more pitiless exploitation of the working and peasant masses of all countries, for the consolidation of the system which keeps them in economic and political slavery.
What is particularly significant is the alliance of two imperialist gendarmes — imperialist France, the gendarme of Europe, and imperialist Japan, the gendarme of the Far East, both of whom have assumed the role of instigators of the campaign against the land of Soviets. By attacking in the East, Japanese imperialism is to create the conditions making possible a simultaneous or subsequent attack by France and its vassals (Poland, etc.) on the Soviet Union from the West. It is these anti- Soviet plans which largely explain the support given Japan in its predatory war in China by other imperialist Powers and by the League of Nations as a whole.
Bourgeois-landlord Japan is assuming the role of war-instigator, which is wholly in keeping with the character of Japanese imperialism.
By this war Japanese imperialism is trying to use its monopoly of military power to establish a jumping-off ground for attack on the Soviet Union, to crush the Soviet movement in China, to turn as much of China as possible into a Japanese colony, to get a more solid economic foundation, to acquire sources of raw materials, particularly for its armaments industries and military requirements, to settle itself firmly on the Asiatic
mainland, and so to arm itself for further wars for mastery in the Pacific.
. . .
Japanese communists must understand the indissoluble connexion between the external aggressiveness of Japanese imperialism and its internal policy, between its imperialist predatory war abroad, its enslavement of colonial countries, and its reactionary policy at home. By entering on the path of war, the Japanese imperialists are seeking to maintain and to strengthen the regime of the army-police monarchy, the regime of unparalleled and arbitrary violence against the working people, to reinforce bondage on the land, to lower the workers' standard of living still more. The war intensifies all class contradictions within the country to the most extreme pitch.
It confronts the Japanese proletariat and its communist party with the task of combining the fight against the war with the
fight for the most vital daily interests of the workers, peasants, and all working people against their economic and political enslavement, and so to turn the imperialist war into civil war and bring about the revolutionary overthrow of the
bourgeois-landlord monarchy. Japanese imperialism's robber war does not push the revolution in Japan into the remote distance but, on the contrary, into the immediate forefront.
In these circumstances the part falling to the Japanese Communist Party is one of the greatest responsibility. The future course of events and the future course of the revolutionary movement will depend to a significant and decisive extent on the strength and resolution of the communist party, on its ability to rally millions of workers behind its slogans and place itself at the head of their struggle.
Consequently the question of the ideological and organizational consolidation of the Japanese CP is of first-class importance. The present situation categorically requires of the Japanese CP the exertion of all its forces to extend and strengthen its links
with the industrial workers and peasants and other working people, links which are still very weak. Whatever the cost, the party must liquidate the situation in which it fails to keep pace with the rising activity of the masses, must become a genuine
mass party, able to advance with confidence towards the coming revolution.
THE CHARACTER OF THE COMING REVOLUTION
The CP of Japan must have a correct and clear picture both of the relation of class forces in the country and of the nature and tasks of the forthcoming revolution in Japan. It must correct the erroneous ideas held in its ranks on these cardinal questions. The present relation of class forces, the character and tasks of the coming revolution, cannot possibly be correctly appraised without taking into account and analysing the peculiarities of the system prevailing in Japan, which combines
extraordinarily strong elements of feudalism with a very advanced development of monopoly capitalism.
(i) The first is the character and specific weight of the monarchy.
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The monarchy is the chief pillar of political reaction and of all the survivals of feudalism in Japan. The monarchical State apparatus is the solid backbone of the dictatorship of the exploiting classes. Its destruction must be regarded as the first task of the revolution. The underestimation of the role of the monarch, the contrasting of parliament and party cabinet with the monarchy as though they were separate forms of the bourgeois State, independent of the monarchy, ideas formerly found in the Japanese CP, are totally wrong.
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The war makes the role of the bureaucracy still more important, particularly that of its most aggressive and reactionary part, the militarists.
The militarist leaders have a greater share of power, which means the acceleration of preparations for anti-Soviet intervention and greater police terror against the Japanese workers and peasants. It would be false to regard as opposites the militarists and the bourgeois-landlord monarchy, and it would be particularly dangerous to divert the mass struggle against the monarchy into a struggle against the allegedly growing danger of a fascist coup d'etat. Certain historical peculiarities must not hide the basic and decisive fact that the present absolutist regime in Japan is not by any means a less oppressive form of the bourgeois-landlord dictatorship over the workers than is fascism in other capitalist countries. The party must expose the treacherous manoeuvre of the ruling classes and the social-democrats, which is to use the spectre of the fascist threat in order to show the existing monarchist regime in a good light, to delude the masses about the growing pressure of reaction, to maintain and strengthen monarchist illusions, to divert the masses from struggle against the main enemy, which in present circumstances is the bourgeois landlord monarchy.
(ii) The second main component of the regime prevailing in Japan is landownership, the backward, Asiatic, semi-feudal regime in the Japanese village, which hampers the development of its productive forces and promotes the degradation of agriculture and the pauperization of the greater part of the peasant population.
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It is quite impossible that the ruling classes of Japan will themselves undertake on their own initiative any serious measures to change the feudal basis of Japanese agrarian relations. The agrarian revolution is one of the primary tasks of
the Japanese revolution, and its importance must not be underestimated.
(iii) The third basic element in the prevailing system is predatory monopolist capitalism.
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Japanese capitalism, which has reached a high level, was and is
reactionary and monarchist. This is most clearly revealed in the fact that the Japanese working class, whose labour productivity is not less than that of European industrial workers, is still in a situation characteristic of colonial countries. The wages of a Japanese worker are as wretchedly low and his working day as long. . . .
It follows from all this that the entire political and economic state of the country will drive the revolutionary movement to fight the imperialist war, the police regime of the monarchy, the low colonial level of living of the workers, and the denial of political rights, as well as the feudal and usury bondage in the village.
The Communist Party of Japan, whose main goal is to establish socialism, must clearly and fully realize that in present Japanese conditions the road to the proletarian dictatorship must lead through the bourgeois-democratic revolution, that
is, through the overthrow of the monarchy, the expropriation of the landowners, and the establishment of the dictatorship of the workers and peasants. This will take the form of councils of
workers, peasants, and soldiers, which will also be the means for transforming the bourgeois-democratic into the socialist revolution. The chief tasks of the forthcoming stage of the revolution are therefore:
(i) Overthrow of the monarchy.
(ii) Liquidation of the large estates.
(iii) Institution of the seven-hour working day and (in the conditions of a revolutionary situation) amalgamation of all banks into one national bank; this, together with large-scale capitalist undertakings and trusts, to be placed under the
supervision of workers', peasants', and soldiers' councils.
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For the present moment, the chief slogans for action must be:
(i) Against the imperialist war. Change the imperialist war into civil war.
(ii) Overthrow the bourgeois-landlord monarchy. For a workers' and peasants' Soviet government.
(iii) Confiscation without compensation of the estates of all landowners, of the Mikado and the churches, on behalf of the peasants. Cancellation of all peasant debts to landlords, moneylenders, and banks.
(iv) A seven-hour working day.
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Freedom for the organization and activities of class-conscious trade unions.
(v) Liberation of the colonies (Korea, Manchuria, Formosa, etc.) from the Japanese imperialist yoke.
(vi) For the defence of the Soviet Union and the Chinese revolution.
The Japanese Communist Party must closely link the fight for the workers' and peasants' Soviet republic with systematic propaganda for socialism, in which the fullest use must be made of the experiences and successes of the Soviet Union.
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The chief driving forces of the revolution are the proletariat and the poor and middle peasants. It is incorrect to assume that the middle peasants are incapable of revolutionary struggle against the landlords and the police monarchy.
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The victorious development of the revolution is possible only if there is the closest alliance between the workers and peasants under proletarian hegemony. To win and consolidate this hegemony is decisive for the triumph of the revolution. In Japan the workers' and peasants' revolution can succeed only if, parallel with the overthrow of the army-police-bureaucratic monarchy, it removes all the exploiting classes, including the bourgeoisie, from political power at the centre as well as locally.
The workers' and peasants' revolution can triumph only if it sets up the power of the workers', peasants', and soldiers' councils.
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The imperative tasks of the communists when there is a revolutionary situation are to create these councils throughout the length and breadth of the country, and, particularly at the moment the monarchy is overthrown, to fight for the complete destruction of the State apparatus of the bourgeois-landlord
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THE PRESENT STATE OF THE REVOLUTIONARY
MOVEMENT AND THE IMMEDIATE TASKS OF THE COMMUNIST
Because of the deepening of the economic crisis, of the war, and of the developing offensive by the capitalists and landlords against the workers and peasants, the economic struggles of the proletariat and peasantry are becoming sharper. The workers' movement in Japan is at a turning-point in its development, moving from scattered defensive struggles to revolutionary mass action.
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The leftward turn of the masses is proceeding under the heavy pressure of the white terror and unbridled police violence. For the moment it is taking place spontaneously, with the CP playing an extremely feeble part in the mass movement, and meeting with the strongest resistance from the social-democrats of all shades.
The discontent of the masses has not yet revealed its full strength. The socialfascists, particularly the left,
. . .
still retain the leadership of strikes and of peasant struggles, of course only in order to betray them.
The policy of the bourgeois-landlord dictatorship is pursued with the active support of the social-democrats, who have concluded an alliance with the police, which provides the bourgeoisie with the means to combine left democratic speech
with police truncheons, rifles, and poison gas. The social-democrats appear under the banner of the 'unity' of the labour movement, but in reality they are splitting the working class.
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The more radical their words, the more despicable is the conduct of these traitors in the industrial conflicts in the factories, where they act as organizers of compulsory arbitration by the police, organize strike breaking, betray the workers' interests to the capitalists for money, actively support capitalist rationalization and mass dismissals, make pacts with the police and betray the most active workers to the police.
In the war that has broken out the Japanese social-democrats of all shades have taken up an openly imperialist position. They are wholly in the camp of the organizers of war against the Chinese people and the Soviet Union.
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Social-democracy and the leaders of the yellow trade unions are the chief danger to the revolutionary movement of workers and peasants. Most dangerous of all are the left social-democrats (Rono-Taisyuto, and the group of police agents organized by renegades from the communist party, which calls itself 'the workers' group of the CPJ', etc.), who conceal their treacherous role
. . .
behind revolutionary phrases.
The entire situation in Japan is developing in a way that offers the communists wide opportunities for drawing into the revolutionary movement really large masses of workers, peasants, and the urban poor, who in the course of the struggle will themselves become revolutionary.
Consequently in the very near future great revolutionary events may take place. A number of facts already show that in the very near future there may be spontaneous outbreaks of mass protest and mass struggle. These spontaneous actions might easily be diverted from their revolutionary path if the CP does not immediately explain to the masses who and what are responsible for their poverty, if it does not make clear the real
nature and objects of the present war, if it does not systematically expose throughout the length and breadth of the country the policy of the Government and the ruling classes, exposing every step and measure they take, if it does not undermine the influence of the social-fascists and really raise itself to the position of leader in the daily mass struggle, if it does not show the masses the revolutionary way out of the
The party's tasks in fighting the war are:
(i) To carry on untiring agitation and propaganda against the imperialist and counter-revolutionary war
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(ii) To reveal the counter-revolutionary, imperialist, and anti-national character of the war slogans advanced by the ruling classes and the social-democrats
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(iii) To fight resolutely against the policy of the bourgeois-landlord monarchy and social-democracy, designed to establish class peace in the country. To work persistently and patiently to overcome the chauvinist delirium of the popular masses.
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(iv) To conduct all-round propaganda about the successes of socialist construction, the achievements of the workers and peasants in the Soviet Union, its peace policy, and about the successes and aims of the Soviet movement in China.
(v) The CPJ, whose guiding object it is to transform the imperialist war into civil war, must adapt its slogans and its work to the character of the war. The slogan of fraternization, obligatory in an imperialist war, must be combined, in the
circumstances of the present war of imperialist Japan against the Chinese people, with the demand for the immediate recall of troops from China, and with an appeal to the Japanese soldiers to refuse to wage war, an appeal to leave the front without discarding or surrendering their weapons, and to form soldiers' committees. The slogan of fraternization, in the event of a counter-revolutionary war against the Soviet Union and revolutionary Soviet China, must be combined with active
agitation for the soldiers to go over to the side of the Red Army.
(vi) In a reactionary war, a revolutionary class can desire only the defeat of the Government of its own country. Defeat of the government army will weaken the monarchist Government of Japan and facilitate the civil war against the ruling classes. In the present war of Japanese imperialism for the colonial subjugation of China, the action slogan of the Japanese
communists must be: 'Fight for China's complete independence'. In the conditions of an imperialist war against China or the Soviet Union the Japanese communists must not only be defeatists, but must fight actively for the victory of the Soviet Union and the liberation of the Chinese people.
(vii) Every effort must be made to carry out strikes on the railways, in the merchant service, and in the armaments factories.
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The goal set must be the proclamation of a general strike and its transformation into armed insurrection.
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(ix) Communists are obliged to support the partial demands of the soldiers and sailors, such as better material conditions, better treatment.
and help the rank and file in their conflicts with the officers. Work must be done to disintegrate the patriotic mass organizations of reservists and young people, etc.
The Japanese communists must keep clearly in mind that the main emphasis in the fight against the war must be on the mass movement, the struggle of the masses. Only work among the masses in the factories and the army, in the trade unions and on the land, will really lead to the transformation of the imperialist war into civil war.
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The current tasks of the party are:
(i) to strengthen the CP and expand its contacts with the workers;
(ii) to expand the industrial struggles of the proletariat... on the basis of the united front from below;
(iii) to stir up and organize the struggle of the peasants against the landowners;
(iv) to direct all popular mass expressions of discontent, of protest, and of struggle into the channel of political struggle against the war and the monarchy.
The CP has begun and is continuing to turn to mass work, but its contact with the masses, its role in the mass movement, remain intolerably weak. A radical change must be made in the party's mass work, so that it really does lead the daily struggle of the workers, peasants, and soldiers. The party will be able to effect this change only if it finally rids its ranks of the remnants of study-group attitudes, of sectarianism and opportunist passivity.
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The fear of recruiting workers to the party must be combated as a highly dangerous form of opportunism. Workers must be boldly and energetically promoted to leading posts in all party and mass organizations.
Agricultural labourers and poor peasants must also be recruited into the party.
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The most glaring recent examples of right opportunism are the cases in which communists helped to collect money for the war on the pretext of maintaining contact with the masses, as well as the attempt to ignore and set aside the task of fighting for the defence of the Soviet Union on the ground that the masses are allegedly not yet mature enough to understand this. Among the left opportunist errors are those tendencies which renounce the struggle for freedom of speech, of the press, of meeting and association for the workers, a sectarian attitude in the left trade unions.
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Particular attention must be paid to the improvement of conspirative methods, to an examination of the reasons for the success of police raids, to measures designed to avoid them, and particularly to provisions to ensure the continued activity of all party organizations in the event of further successful police raids.
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The party must make a radical change in its methods of work in the trade unions and and other non-party organizations; the habit of giving orders, as though these were party organizations, must be dropped. Communists must win the leading part in these organizations by their energy and ideological zeal (and not by reference to their position as communists); they must use methods of persuasion (and of
persuasion alone) to win the members for revolutionary proposals. To secure correct methods of work, competent communist fractions must be set up in these mass organizations.
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An unceasing struggle for the masses against the social-democrats of all shades must be waged. This struggle has up to now had little success because it was not given concrete form, not closely linked with the direct struggle of the masses for
their daily needs and the lessons of that struggle; in some cases it was replaced by appeals for physical struggle against individual social-fascists. Neither has anything to do with the tasks of the CP. The essence of the fight against social-fascism lies in the struggle for the masses and against the influence of the social-fascists on the masses.
The treachery of the social-fascists must be exposed; they must be deprived of the confidence of the masses not through abstract discussions but on the basis of the experiences of the daily struggle.
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The CPJ must become a party of political mass action. With this in view, the CPJ must in its day-to-day revolutionary practical work bear in mind the task of launching, organizing, and leading every kind of protest against the war, against the
police-bureaucratic regime of the bourgeois-landlord monarchy. . . .
The party must work out a programme of partial demands which takes due account of the peculiarities of the concrete political situation.
In addition to the anti-war demands already considered, the programme should include demands:
(i) against military-police suppression of strikes
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for unrestricted freedom of trade unions and peasant unions and all other worker's organizations, against arbitration and against any interference by the authorities in the workers' and peasants' struggle.
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(ii) for the immediate release of all victims of police action and all political prisoners.
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(iii) for the unrestricted freedom of association, speech, and press for the working people
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(iv) for the refusal to pay rent
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for the cancellation of all peasant debts to landlords, moneylenders, trusts, and banks; for the refusal to pay any such debts or to pay tax arrears;
(v) for the abrogation of all laws directed against the workers and peasants
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for equal rights for women;
(vi) against the semi-slave conditions of labour
for equal pay for equal work.
Judicial prosecution of the open and concealed purchase and sale of women and children, etc.
(vii) against capitalist rationalization; for a seven-hour day for adults, a four-hour day for workers under 16, and a six-hour day from 16-18; prohibition of child labour
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(viii) for an all-round increase in wages, a compulsory minimum wage.
(ix) for the immediate introduction of national insurance for unemployment, sickness, accident, and old age, the costs to be borne by the capitalists
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(x) . . .
for higher taxation of the rich and total tax exemption for workers, small peasants, poor artisans, and the urban poor;
(xi) for the liberation of Korea, Formosa, Manchuria, and other areas stolen from China; for the immediate withdrawal of Japanese troops from these areas; for the defence of the Soviet Union and the Chinese people.
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The war and the crisis are bringing class contradictions in the country to a pitch of extreme sharpness. The revolutionary mass struggle of the workers and peasants under the leadership of the CPJ will make more acute the revolutionary crisis which will deal the death blow to the monarchy, set up workers' and peasants' councils under whose banner the CPJ will lead the working class and all working people to the final victory.