Sen Katayama

The War and the Japanese

Source: International Socialist Journal, Vol. XV, No. 5, November 1914, p. 287.
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: M. Schauerte
Proofread: Andy Carloff, 2010
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2010). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Japan is in the hands of the jingoistic party headed by the president of the Japan Peace Society, Premier Count Okuma. The supporters of the Bureaucratic party have demanded an increase in the army to recover their lost influence and have declared war on Germany.

The Japanese navy is only too glad of an opportunity to fight with anybody in order to wipe out the stains of the recent navy scandals. Thus Japan is again dragged into a meaningless war although she has not yet recovered from the Russo-Japanese war.

The best elements of the Japanese people are opposed to the war. The Oriental Economist, a thrice-monthly economic and political paper, widely read in Japan, has flatly opposed the war and declared those advocating it as enemies to the best interests of Japan. It said the true mission of Japan was to keep peace in the far east at this time.

The parliament has voted 50,000,000 yen since war was declared ($25,000,000). But it will cost many more millions. The press, as might be expected, is declaring that war was inevitable because of Japan’s defensive and offensive alliance with England. They also claim that Japan must avenge the move of Germany at the close of the Chino-Jap war twenty years ago, when Russia, France and Germany compelled Nippon to return the Liao Yang peninsula to China.

It was really Russia that compelled this move. But today Japanese military authorities have nothing to say of the part played then by France or Russia.

The truth of the matter is that our old bureaucrats want to increase the army and navy to give them a firmer grip on the necks of the Japanese people.

It is reported that the high military authorities intend to experiment in this war with many new arms and new tactics of war so that both soldiers and, sometimes, our officers, are to be used just like so many live mice, rabbits and dogs at the Rockefeller Institute.

“Don’t kill a soldier in capturing Kiao Chow” has become one of the demands of the Japanese people. We have an old saying, “Don’t whip a dog that is lying down.” In Japan’s military operations against Germany today the people regard the war in much the same light. They do not think it is courageous or even moral to attack a weaker party which has little chance for success. It is a national trait to see the Japanese backing a war against a stronger or even a much bigger nation than we are.

Of course Japan is suffering in many ways because of the wars. Some of our industries shut down because of lack of European supplies while others closed up because of lack of business. Of course thousands of people are out of work. The price of silk has fallen 50 and 60 per cent. The prices of cocoons went so low that many small farmers could not pay the cost of mulberry leaves to feed the worms.

During the Russo-Japanese war the Socialists in Japan accomplished some very good anti-war propaganda, but we are permitted to do nothing this time. A big fight is coming later on appropriations for the army and navy. If the bureaucratic party wins, the Japanese Socialists will be still further oppressed; while if the opposition is victorious, they may enjoy a few more liberties.

By M.S Katayama. (Comrade Katayama left Japan a short time ago to attend the International Socialist Congress in Vienna. He is now working among the Japanese in California.)