V. I.   Lenin

Interview with M. Nakahira, Correspondent of the Japanese Newspaper Osaka Asahi[1]

Interviewed: June 3, 1920
Published: Transmitted by telegraph June 6, 1920. First published in Russian (translated from the English) April 16, 1963 in Izvestia No. 91. Published in Japanese June 13, 1920, in Osaka Asahi No. 13814, June 15, 1920, in Tokyo Asahi No. 12211, and in English in the magazine Soviet Russia No. 6 August 7, 1920. Printed from the text in Osaka Asahi. Translated from the Japanese.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, 2nd English Printing, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 42, pages 193-194a.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). 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.
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He did not wait for our question, but started to speak of the relations between Japan and Russia-to the effect that it is regrettable that Japan does not seem willing to adopt an attitude of willingness to meet the Soviet Government’s attitude of peace. The Soviet Government stands for peace, and therefore it recognises the neutral zone government.[2]

He then asked: “Is there a powerful landowning class in Japan? Does the Japanese farmer own land freely? Do the Japanese people live on food produced in their own country, or do they import much food from foreign countries?” He asked many other questions, showing his deep interest in living conditions in Japan.

Mr. Lenin next asked whether Japanese parents beat their children, and said he had read of this in a book. “Tell me whether it is true or not,” said he, “it is a very interesting subject.” I answered that there may be exceptions, but as a rule parents do not beat their children in Japan. On hearing my answer he expressed satisfaction and said that the policy of the Soviet Government is to abolish this condition. After that we asked about the revolution and subsequent developments.

In giving a résumé of Russian revolutionary history, he said: “Before the revolution, the working and peasant classes of Russia were extremely oppressed-in fact, their oppression was without parallel in past history. As a result of this most severe oppression, the revolutionary spirit of the poorer class gradually increased until it broke out in the revolution. But the organising capacity of the lower strata of Russia is comparatively weak and the degree of education lower than in any other countries. In spite of all this they could not be suppressed. But now, after two and a half years of experience, the Russian working and peasant masses have obtained a great deal of political and social discipline. The experience of this two and a half years can truly be compared with the development of several centuries.”

At this point we asked why the Soviet Republic, in spite of its having repudiated the national debts of czarism, had promised to give Esthonia vast amounts of gold, when concluding peace. Smiling, Mr. Lenin said: “Esthonia has shown her good will toward the Soviet Government and therefore the Soviet Government has promised to pay her this gold. Moreover,” he continued, “to deal with the propertied class is really a very difficult matter. The propertied class cares for nothing but its own material, interests. For instance, look at America. America proposed a peace treaty with Soviet Russia. When we examined the treaty, we could not accept. it because it was based on exploitation. So we rejected it. Of course we do not consider ourselves incapable. The Allied nations, rejecting recognition, attempt to interfere with Russia. There is reason to think that if the intervention of the Allies should continue, it will be profitable to the Boisheviki.

All in all, considering the prospects of Russia’s industries, the situation is promising. If our electrical programme, is attained entire industries can be electrified. The creative capacity of communism will be increased and will exert the greatest influence in solving these problems, and the development will be equal to that of several decades.”


[1] This interview took place in Lenin’s private office in the Kremlin on June 3, 1920. Writing from Moscow, Nakahira reported: “I interviewed Mr. Lenin at his office in the Kremlin. Contrary to my expectation, the decoration of the room is very simple. Mr. Lenin’s manner is very simple and kind—as if he were greeting an old friend. In spite of the fact that he holds the highest position, there is not the slightest trace of condescension in his manner.” (Osaka Asahi No. 13814 for June 13, 1920.) The next day, as Nakahra mentions in his later reminiscences, he brought the text of his interview to Lenin, who read it carefully and made several corrections.

Lenin’s interview given to another Japanese correspondent, K. Fussa, and printed lower down, took place on June 3 or 4. Possibly both correspondents were received by Lenin together. Fusse says the interview lasted about twenty minutes. A. N. Vorneseasky, Chief of the Eastern Department of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, was present at the interview.

Fusse’s interview with Lenin was reported on Jun, 26, 1920, in the Socialist-Revolutionary newspaper Volya pub!thed in Vladivostok. The text of the interview given in this volume was first published in Russian in 1924 in the collection of articles Lenin i Vostok (Lenin and the East) and afterwards in the First Edition of Lenin’s Collected Works (Vol. XX, Part II). It was not included in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th (Russian) editions of the Collected Works.

[2] This refers to the Far-Eastern Republic set up in April 1920 on the territory of the Trans-Baikal, Amur, Maritime and Kernchatka regions and Northern Sakhalin. In form a bourgeois-democratic state, in essence it pursued a Soviet policy in keeping with the interests of Soviet Russia, which needed a prolonged respite on her Eastern Front and wanted to stave off war with Japan. At the same time, the creation of a buffer state in the Far East was made necessary by force of circumstances. As Lenin pointed out, “circumstances made necessary the creation of a buffer state, the Far-Eastern Republic. We are well aware of the unbelievable sufferings that the Siberian peasants are enduring at the hands of the Japanese imperialists and the atrocities the Japanese have committed in Siberia.” (present edition, Volume 31, page 465).

After the interventionists and whiteguards were driven out of the Soviet Far East (except Northern Sakhalin), the People’s Assembly of the Far-Eastern Republic voted for entry into the R.S.F.S.R. on November 14, 1922.

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