H.G./Joseph Hansen

Two Points of View on Deliberate
Mass Slaughter of Civilian Worker
and Peasant Millions in Japan

(23 June 1945)

Source: The Militant, Vol. IX No. 25, 23 June 1945, p. 5..
Transcription/Editing/HTML Markup: 2018 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Public Domain: Joseph Hansen Internet Archive 2018. This work is in the under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Marxists’ Internet Archive as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

Editor’s Note: Another letter on the subject of the bombing of Japanese cities appears in the Workers’ Forum on page 7.

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Favors Mass Killings


Having read the past copy (June 9) of The Militant, I am utterly disgusted with the article on “Tokyo Bombings” and comments by The Militant. In my estimation, The Militant is assuming an ignorant and dangerous attitude on this subject.

Day by day as we draw nearer to the Japanese mainland, our bombings will become more intensive than ever. The more bombings will mean more strategic positions destroyed, and the more Japanese people killed. The more strategic positions destroyed, and the more Japanese people killed, will bring us closer to victory. When I say Japanese people, I mean civilians, military, and etc. By civilians I mean laborers, peasants, and farmers, as well as the capitalists.

I hold every Japanese person responsible for the war in the Pacific, just as every German was responsible for the European War. When I say every German and Japanese, I do not mean those persons that fought against their government’s actions and were either killed or cast into concentration camps as political prisoners. Those are the only persons I do not blame for the War, as they openly defied their governments and did not remain quiet as did the many millions of the German and Japanese populations. The common masses in Japan are just as much to blame for the war as are the fascist capitalist military. Therefore, they should be prepared to suffer and pay with their lives as are them fighting men.

I do not believe that the Japanese masses were forced into this war. The Jap masses are so great that it is virtually impossible for them to be forced into a war against their own will. Therefore, I conclude that the Jap masses entered this war on their own and that they have helped to prolong this war. It is true now, that parts of the Japanese population are against the war. Why shouldn’t they be ? They are being killed by the thousands, their homes destroyed, and they are practically all starving. Yes, when they are losing and receiving a terrific beating, as our air, sea and land forces are giving them, they should certainly feel sorry, for what they themselves started.

When the London blitz was on and thousands of innocent men, women, and children were killed each day, did The Militant cry out and say “helpless people perish in flames”? They did not, but they did it for their so-called innocent Japanese civilians – the farmers, the laborers, and the peasants.

Japan would be no different towards us, as we are towards her, had she been off the shores of America. The Japanese would gloat over all the horrors they could inflict on helpless American civilians, as they are now doing to our soldiers in the Pacific. Did you forget that 6 children and a woman were killed by a Japanese bomb in Oregon, U.S.A.? Would you call that helpless people perishing? The Japanese would be only too glad to send over a billion more of those balloon bombs had it been possible.

This paper is always trying to get at the corrupt Wall St. capitalists. I do not blame yen in any way, but don’t try to do it by blaming them for “gloating over horror” of the Japanese killed in the Tokyo bombings. They have the right to gloat over it, as has every American.

The Militant also seems to think that all the working class throughout the entire world, including Japan, hate war, did not start the war, hut only the capitalists want war, like war, and. thrive on. war. Well, The Militant seems to think a lot of things.

It was the working class in Germany as well as the capitalists who picked on, and persecuted religious minorities and furthered anti-Semitism and discrimination against the Jews, Catholics etc. This anti-Semitism and discrimination helped to start this war, and since the working class lent a hand in it, they deserve to be punished along with the fascist-capitalist politicians. Whatever is said about Germany goes double for Japan and the entire Japanese people. In conclusion, I’d like to ask The Militant to answer some of the questions that have come up in this brief essay.


Very truly yours,

P.S. Do you want a special section roped off in Tokyo, where all innocent Japanese people can stay, while our brave airmen go to their tasks of bombing? I am entering college in a few months and some day I will probably end up as a laborer of the working class. If I sound like a capitalist you are very much mistaken.

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Joseph Hansen’s Reply


When a seemingly normal person not only tries to justify the deliberate slaughter of millions of people, but also gloats over it, we can see how civilization, as reflected in the mind of this individual, is disintegrating in the flood of capitalist barbarism. To exult over the wholesale killing of human beings is a most ominous symptom. Labelling the whole Japanese nation as “guilty” is an obvious rationalization. A Negro-hater who joins in a lynching often indulges in a similar rationalization when he mutilates his innocent victim.

The notion that the Japanese nation as a whole is “guilty” has been, implanted in American minds by the organs of capitalist propaganda. They have done the same as regards the German people, but now the war against Germany is over and the lie has served its main purpose, the truth is beginning to come out, as The Militant noted in an editorial last week.

Instead of accepting the poison propaganda of the imperialist war-makers, H.G. should study the social and political causes of war. He will find abundant material in the literature of the Trotskyist movement. If he studies seriously, he will soon discover that his present type of “thinking” is the greatest aid to the imperialists in plotting their wars of extermination. The explosive balloon bombs sent across the Pacific by the Japanese warlords, like the rocket bombs sent across the English Channel by the Nazi generals, are the first experiments in the stepped-up mass murder we shall see in future wars.

It is true that the destruction of Japanese cities and the mass slaughter of the Japanese people “will bring us closer to victory.” But victory for whom ? Only the capitalists will profit from this victory. Millions of workers will have laid down their lives. More millions will come back crippled in mind and body. The scrapheap of unemployment awaits others. Will the victory perhaps insure future peace?

We have seen how the First World War led directly to the Second. When Japan has been vanquished, the Anglo-American imperialists will fight over the spoils of war, or they will join to attack the Soviet Union. Capitalism with its greedy appetite for markets and profits means war and more war.

To the horrible, sickening prospect of mankind drowning itself in oceans of blood, the Trotskyists counterpose socialism – a world society in which nations, instead of being pitted against one another in ferocious combat for the profit of a small minority of capitalists in each nation, would live together in friendship and work together to elevate all mankind.

When H.G. says that the Japanese masses are so great that they could not have been forced into war against their will, he might ponder over the fact that the American people were jockeyed into the present war although 70 percent of them voted, in poll after poll, against going to war. How did this happen? H.G. would undoubtedly say that America got into the war because Japan attacked first. The fact is that the conflicting predatory interests of both the Japanese and American imperialists made an armed clash inevitable. That Japan struck first does not alter this fact. The Japanese imperialists, being the weaker of the two powers, struck first in order to have the advantage of the initiative. The point is that given the system of capitalist imperialism on both sides of the Pacific, war was bound to come. As Trotsky once wrote, if two locomotives are on the same track and headed toward each other they are bound to collide. And if one were to investigate the causes of the collision, it would be the height of stupidity to try to determine the responsibility by asking which locomotive actually struck the other.

It is not true that The Militant failed to condemn the atrocities committed by the imperialists of other lands, particularly the German (Nazi) imperialists. We denounced and combatted Hitlerism – at the time when Wall Street and the British imperialists were helping to arm the Nazis for war. We denounced the Japanese imperialist invasion of China – at a time when Wall Street’s merchants of death were supplying Japan’s rulers with gasoline and scrap iron to bomb helpless Chinese civilians. We have never ceased opposing Britain’s cruel enslavement of India. Lately, we have condemned the bloody suppression of the Arabs by the French imperialist government of de Gaulle.

We are against the imperialists and the oppressors of all lands without distinction. But our main fight is here at home against our own ruling class, just as the main fight of all other peoples is against their rulers and oppressors. We seek to unite the workers of all lands for revolutionary struggle to end the entire world system of capitalism which produces war after war and never-ending mass misery.


Joseph Hansen

(Readers of The Militant, desirous of acquainting themselves more closely with the Marxist appraisal of Japan, will find a brilliant analysis in the study of Li Fu-jen, Japan Faces the Abyss, which appeared in the magazine Fourth International, in February, March and Apri 1944.)


Last updated on: 7 November 2018