Com­mu­nism in Ja­pan

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

Soviet tankers halt their ad­vance in Manchuria in the fi­nal days of World War II to chat with lo­cals. A Soviet vic­tory would re­sult in a boost for com­mu­nism in Ja­pan's home is­lands.

It is not a phi­los­o­phy out­siders im­me­di­ately as­so­ci­ate with em­peror-wor­ship­ping Ja­pan: com­mu­nism. In fact, to­day's Com­mu­nist Party of Ja­pan has some 300,000 mem­bers and seats in the Diet. This year, the coun­try somberly marked the 75th an­niver­sary of the end of World War II - and it was Ja­pan's de­feat that led to a re­birth, of sorts, for Ja­panese com­mu­nism.

But that should not dis­guise the fact that com­mu­nism it­self has a his­tory in the na­tion that dates back to well be­fore 1945.

In 1925, Ja­pan and the Soviet Union es­tab­lished diplo­matic re­la­tions. This al­lowed the Sovi­ets to set up diplo­matic fa­cil­i­ties and for Com­mu­nist in­tel­li­gence forces to pen­e­trate Ja­pan. The worlds of pol­i­tics, academia, and print jour­nal­ism were tar­geted, as were high lev­els of the mil­i­tary and gov­ern­ment.

How­ever, the Peace

Preser­va­tion Law - or Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Act - was es­tab­lished and was able to halt, to a cer­tain ex­tent, the ex­pan­sion of com­mu­nist ide­ol­ogy in Ja­pan. Many com­mu­nists had no choice but to act un­der false pre­tenses, dis­guis­ing their real ide­olo­gies un­der the cover of demo­cratic so­cial­ism - even right-wing ex­trem­ism and em­peror wor­ship.

This sit­u­a­tion was dra­mat­i­cally al­tered by Ja­pan's loss in World War II, and by the poli­cies laid out by the Supreme Com­man­der of Al­lied Pow­ers, US Gen­eral Dou­glas MacArthur.

The post­war era

It is gen­er­ally be­lieved that MacArthur un­der­stood the threat posed by Com­mu­nism but among his sub­or­di­nates were a bevy of Com­mu­nists, New Deal­ers, and other left-wing ac­tivists and fel­low trav­el­ers who were par­tic­u­larly heav­ily rep­re­sented in the Gov­ern­ment Sec­tion (GS) of Gen­eral Head­quar­ters (GHQ).

GS was con­trolled by Bri­gadier Court­ney Whit­ney and Colonel Charles Kades. In Oc­to­ber 1945, these GHQ mem­bers dis­man­tled the Peace Preser­va­tion (Pub­lic Se­cu­rity) Act and the Spe­cial

Higher Po­lice. They also or­dered the re­lease from prison of 220 mem­bers of the Com­mu­nist Party.

A dam hold­ing back a flood tide of red wa­ter had burst.

In the 1949 gen­eral elec­tion, the Com­mu­nist Party won 35 seats in the leg­is­la­ture, fur­ther ex­pe­dit­ing Ja­pan's left­ward political drift. One con­se­quence of this was that Com­mu­nists in the up­per ech­e­lons of the armed forces were able to drop pre­tenses and emerge openly.

Colonel Suke­taka Tane­mura (1904-1966), for ex­am­ple, was an elite mem­ber of the Im­pe­rial Gen­eral Staff, Army Sec­tion. He was one of the drafters of one of the most fool­ish poli­cies adopted by Tokyo dur­ing the clos­ing days of World War II - seek­ing the me­di­a­tion of the Soviet Union in pe­ti­tion­ing the United States for a peace set­tle­ment.

Later im­pris­oned in the Soviet Union, Tane­mura's leftist lean­ings ex­panded dur­ing his de­tain­ment in the Siberian camps, and he joined the Com­mu­nist Party im­me­di­ately upon his re­lease and re­turn to Ja­pan.

An­other drafter of the hap­less plan to seek rap­proche­ment with the Sovi­ets was Colonel Makoto Mat­su­tani (1903-1998).

He wrote in his book The Truth about the Set­tle­ment of the Greater East Asia War: "It is dif­fi­cult to be­lieve that Stalin … was try­ing to de­stroy the na­tional polity of Ja­pan and com­mu­nize the en­tire coun­try…. In­evitably, the post­war eco­nomic sta­tus in Ja­pan must move in a so­cial­ist di­rec­tion, and from this view­point, as well, it be­comes pos­si­ble to close the dis­tance be­tween Ja­pan and the Soviet Union.

"The seeds of Ja­pan's fu­ture political re­cov­ery are to be ob­tained more from the Soviet style of peo­ple's gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions than from the de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion of Ja­panese pol­i­tics as en­vi­sioned by the United States."

This in­flu­ence did not stop with the end of the war and the be­gin­ning of Ja­pan's paci­fist era. For ex­am­ple, Mat­su­tani was the first post­war vice-pres­i­dent of the Na­tional De­fense Acad­emy. In his mem­oirs he records that he gath­ered the "Marx Boys" of the acad­emy for fel­low­ship.

It may be due to the lin­ger­ing in­flu­ence of Mat­su­tani that the cur­rent pres­i­dent of the Na­tional De­fense Acad­emy is seen as be­ing pro- China. This is trou­bling, given that the Acad­emy is a state ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion of the ut­most im­por­tance, charged with form­ing the fu­ture core of­fi­cers of Ja­pan's mil­i­tary.

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