Sen Katayama

Japan and Soviet Russia

Source: The Call; 4 September 1919
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Michael Schauerte
Proofread: Andy Carloff
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). 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.

The Oriental Economist, Tokyo, the only independent, fair and sensible periodical of power and influence in Japan has said words in the past on the Russian Bolshevik government that ought to be well remembered even by Socialists. It never attacked the policy of the Soviet government; on the contrary, it advocated and insisted that Japan should recognise the Lenin government and warned the Japanese with such headlines as, “Recognise the Bolshevik Government!” (July 25, 1918); “Don’t Forget There Will Be a Revived Russia!” (same date); “Announcement of Troop Embarkation to Vladivostok” (August 15th, 1918), under which it criticises severely the Japanese and American policy in Siberia and asks: “Who are the Russian people that gladly receive the Allied countries’ help?” “Withdraw Troops from Siberia!” (September 15th, 1918), and again, “Withdraw Our Siberian Troops” (April 5th, 1919). It never approved Japan’s Siberian intervention, but always upheld the policy of recognising the Lenin government. It will interest readers to know what the paper said under the above title in the issue of last April 5th: “The Japanese Army in Siberia lost, from January to March, 301 soldiers killed and 158 men wounded by attacking the Bolsheviks, and one battalion was lost entirely. There arose strong and loud cries against the Siberian intervention among the Japanese. Those soldiers died in the fields of Siberia like dogs. Our Siberian policy is an utter failure. We must withdraw our troops from there by all means! At first our policy and aim was to aid the Czecho-Slovak soldiers. When this aim was accomplished our aim was changed, namely, to attack and destroy Bolshevism in Russia - that is, we proposed interference in Russia’s internal policy.” Foreign Minister Uchida said in the Parliament that “the first aim of our troops in Siberia is considered to be accomplished, but we cannot withdraw our army. Our army is now to keep peace and order among those localities occupied by our army.” What does it mean to sustain the peace and order? Minister Uchida said, “our policy is not to interfere with Russia’s internal policy by any means, but if there is any one who is against our keeping peace and order, our troops sweeping the Bolsheviks away was the result of the same policy.” What localities are those occupied by our troops? The War Minister said: “The Japanese troops guarding the front lines extended over 4,000 miles and along these lines and, their vicinity, Japan’s troops are placed to keep the peace and order. Our aim being to restore Russia by sympathising with the Omsk Government we agree to call those who side with the Omsk Government, the moderates, and to help them is to keep the peace and order to-day, so that any one who resists our soldiers who are thus keeping peace and order will be suppressed.” Thus our Siberian policy is clear as daylight to help the Omsk Government with our army; those who obey the Omsk Government are called the “Moderates” and those opposed, “Bolsheviks,” and to sweep away the Bolsheviks is our mode of maintaining law and order. Although Foreign Minister Uchida says our policy is not to interfere with Russia’s internal policy—is this not interfering with Russia’s internal policy? Really, our government is engaged in armed intervention on the Russian internal policy along four thousand miles. There will be no Russian who will not consider us his enemy and hold a bad feeling toward us. In every country and in any age there are always disaffected persons: Our war-minister’s so-called “Moderates” are nothing but disaffected persons, and the vast majority of Russians are to-day his so-called Bolsheviks. Therefore, if we keep our army in Siberia any longer, the more strongly will we make all the Russians our enemies. It is better soon to withdraw our army from Siberia!”

As soon as we withdraw our troops from Siberia, the Omsk Government is sure to be put down by the Bolshevik party. Our soldiers in Siberia, since the beginning of the intervention, died “a dog’s death,” a useless death, and war expenses are simply wasted. We regret the loss on account of our mistaken policy, indeed! But by withdrawing our troops now we shall hereafter commit no more of such a senseless sacrifice and, moreover, the inimical attitude of the Russians can be eliminated. This is the opinion of the best people of Japan.

The Japanese Government’s Siberian policy is upheld by the Allies, including America. It is a most outrageous policy. To them the Russian people are only the bourgeois class who are against the Bolshevik government and trying to sell Russia to the foreign capitalists!

A Chinese proverb says, “The mouth of the public melts metal.” It indicates the influence of public rumour, but to counteract this apparent effect of the public rumour on even the public opinion, a proverb says “Shinri wa saigo no shori” (Truth is the ultimate victor). . All lies, falsehoods and twisting the facts about the Russian Soviet Republic and its doings have been poured on the people the world over for the past eighteen months to fool and mislead them. These lies, skilfully fabricated by the capitalists and their paid agents—journalists, editors and pressmen of big dailies, even those truth-loving Christians and god-fearing men, may mislead and cheat the people for a while, but they are like a house built on sand, or storm clouds before the sun; they will soon, fall away before the truth. The true state of things about Russia and her Soviet Republic will be known to the world and the hearts and souls of all of humanity in spite of all the lies. We know all those big phrases about the aims of the present world war which is just about to be closed, and the noble ideals of a democratic peace based on the self-determination of peoples concerned proved to be nothing but words and phrases! Capitalist governments and their diplomats will not make a lasting peace in the world. We know that. There is only one true lasting peace of the world, that is the Russian Bolshevik peace proposed by Lenin and Trotsky when they formed the Soviet Government. At least this is the consensus of opinion among the great masses of the world, and I am glad to say that the Japanese, are of firm belief on this aspect. They know fully well who are the Russian people and are ready to aid them by every means in their power.—From “Soviet Russia.”