Joseph Hansen

World Events

(7 February 1949)

Source: The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 6, 7 February 1949, p. 2.
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National Conference of Italian Trotskyists Is Held in Rome

The Italian Trotskyist groups which were organized around the magazine IVa Internazionale after the Second World Congress of the Fourth International, held their first national conference on Jan. 2 in Rome. Twenty-five delegates from ten local and provincial groups attended.

The conference discussed and adopted an important political report which drew a balance sheet on all the currents in the Italian labor movement since 1944. A resolution on the political orientation and practical work of the Italian Trotskyists was adopted. This will soon be published.

The conference took up the reports of various committees on organization, education, trade union work, etc. A Central Committee was elected.

In connection with the conference an 8-day seminar was held on problems of the revolutionary movement. Twenty comrades participated and found the study and discussion very fruitful.

Elections in Japan Show Rising Unrest Among City Workers

The Jan. 23 general elections in Japan revealed a significant polarization of political sentiment. Premier Shigeru Yoshida’s ultra-conservative Democratic Liberal Party won a majority of seats in the lower house of Japan’s parliament, the Diet. The so-called “center” parties – the Democrats, People’s Cooperatives and Social Democrats who constituted the coalition government that carried out MacArthur’s orders – lost heavily. The Stalinists, appearing as a revolutionary party to the voters, registered big gains.

The victorious Premier Yoshida is closely connected through marriage to the Mikado and also to a family of wealthy coal barons. His aims in office are to strengthen Japanese capitalism, cut down the number of government employees, launch a government drive against the labor movement, impose wage controls and stamp out “communism.”

MacArthur hailed Yoshida’s victory as a triumph for the “conservative philosophy of government.”

MacArthur’s elation is understandable. One of his major aims in Japan has been to safeguard the Mikado from the anger of the working people, to head off a working class revolution and build up Japanese capitalism as an ally in Wall Street’s projected war against the Soviet Union.

Recently MacArthur took a number of steps to hasten the entrenchment of reaction in Japan. These consisted of passage of Taft-Hartley type legislation, ending of democratic reforms, exerting direct pressure on unions to call off strike action for higher wages and repressive measures against the Communist Party.

One of the results of this policy, apparently quite unexpected to MacArthur, was the strengthening of the Communist Party. Just before the election his headquarters had gleefully announced a drop in “communist influence” in the trade unions and predicted that the Communist Party would make only slight gains in the election due to temporary factional dissension among left wing members of the Social Democratic party.

But (the vote for the Communist Party rose from about 1,000,000 in the previous election in 1947 to more than 3,274,000. The Stalinists themselves had hoped that they might triple their representation in the Diet from four to 12. To their own astonishment they won 35 seats. With about 10% pf the total ballots, they now constitute the fourth largest party in Japan.

Principal strength of the Stalinists is among the workers in rhe industrial centers. In the country districts they trailed far behind the other parties. This can give Mac Arthur And this puppets little comfort, however. The revolutionary fire among the Chinese peasantry is bound to soon cast a warm glow on the poverty-stricken, peasants of Japan. They will then easily respond to the lead of the city workers.

The general elections in Japan thus registered growing political ferment among the working people and a sharp, increase in the political tension. This portends no easy sailing for the Yoshida regime.

As Gordon Walker, correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor, observed in a dispatch from Tokyo:

“Although Japan now is assured of a unified conservative government Under Mr. Yoshida, the atmosphere here in Tokyo, meanwhile, is gloomy. Occupation authorities take an extremely serious view of the sudden spurt in communist voting strength. And undoubtedly there will have to be a reassessment of the popular theory that Japan is at least an ideological bulwark against the spread of communism in Asia.”

Allied Court Frees Ace Nazi Diplomat; Restores His Fortune

The latest incident in the effort of Anglo-American imperialism to groom former Nazis and their backers for a puppet German government was the liberation on Jan. 26 of Hitler’s top-drawer diplomat, Franz won Papen.

Condemned to serve eight years at hard labor as a major war criminal, von Papen was not only freed by the Allied “denazification” court after four years’ imprisonment but all his properties, confiscated by previous court decision, were returned to him except for a token fine of $9,000.

Von Papen revealed that he will take a vacation while awaiting restoration of his holdings in the rich Saar and Rhineland areas. The size of his fortune was not revealed.

The rehabilitation of this Nazi follows similar action in hundreds of other cases. Among the notorious criminals who have received demonstrative leniency from the occupation authorities was Ilse Koch, the foul “Beast Of Buchenwald.”

Washington and London are restoring the former Nazi and their backers to power in preparation for the constitution of a Western German government. Plans are to include this puppet regime under the provisions of the North Atlantic Pact. American militarists already envisage mobilization of 500,000 German youth as the first contingent of a new Prussian army to he used in another invasion of the Soviet Union in Wall Street’s projected world war.


Last updated on: 29 February 2024