Karl Radek


The Russo-Japanese
Peace Negotiations

(19 September 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 80, 19 September 1922, pp. 597–598.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2020). 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 peace negotiations of the Far East Republic and Soviet Russia with Japan were opened at a railway station of the Southern Manchurian Railway. The Japanese Government refused to hold the negotiations in Tokio, Peking, Chita or Moscow. By this choice of a place lying outside all connection with the world, the Japanese Government proves its fear of public opinion, even of the Japanese people. The Soviet Government would have had no fear of holding the negotiations in Tokio, although in Japan not only every Communist, but also every labor activity is liable to severe punishment. Although in Tokio not a single workers’ paper appears, Russia was quite certain that its attitude would meet with the greatest sympathy. In fact the Soviet Government puts forward no other demand at these negotiations than that of a conclusion of peace, based upon mutual benefit, and this demand perfectly accords with the demands of Japanese public opinion, even of the public opinion of the bourgeoisie.

The bourgeoisie of Japan comprehends perfectly what dangers for Japan the continuance or the intervention policy result in. The Japanese Government declares that it will evacuate Siberia, regardless of whether it can come to terms with Soviet Russia or not. We heard no such declaration from the Japanese Delegation at the Washington Conference. There they still spoke of the necessity of defending Japanese interests and for this reason held it to be necessary to remain in Siberia for the time being. What, then, has changed since the Washington Conference? In the first place Japan is convinced that she must clear out of Siberia. Must, then, Admiral Kato, the head of the Washington Delegation and the head of the present Japanese Government be reminded with what self-assurance he listened to the speech of the American Secretary of State, Mr. Hughes, who read out all the declarations of the Japanese Government concerning Siberia one after the other, and who had to point out impartially how often the Japanese Government had broken its promises? If it were not necessary to avoid everything that could disturb the negotiations just begun, I would repeat here that passage from the book of Sullivan (one of the journalists very closely in touch with the American Government) on the Washington Conference, which describes the attitude of the Japanese Delegation in Washington. It is probable that the impressions gained there by Admiral Kato hastened in the highest degree the decision to evacuate Siberia.

The second reason is the mood of the Japanese bourgeoisie itself. The occupation of Eastern Siberia cost Japan 600,000,000 yen. If the purpose of the occupation were the preparation for the seizure of Eastern Siberia, then this plan was under the given conditions of the world situation incapable of being carried out. If, however, the occupation by Japan was to help in gaining an economic foothold in Eastern Siberia before other capitalist powers should make their appearance, then Japan achieved the exact opposite. The exports of Japan into Siberia fell considerably during the occupation. The Newspaper Tokio Asaki is perfectly right when it writes:

“The best method of defending the interests of business people who have dealings with Russia is the renunciation of such methods which can bring a hostile element into the mutual relations of the Russian and Japanese peoples.”

It is superfluous to explain to the Japanese Government what feelings the Japanese occupation called forth among the Russian people. If it should turn out (which some Japanese papers fear) that the promises of Admiral Kato regarding the evacuation of Siberia remain on paper only, if the fulfilling of these promises should be postponed until the alleged non-partisan Kato Government, (which was formed in consequence of the dissolution of the late government party of the agrarians and militarists, Sen-Yu-Kay) shall yield up power again to an open government of this party, after which the Japanese troops will remain in Siberia, – then we have only to call to mind the words of another Kato, of Baron Kato, leader of the capitalist party Ken-Se-Kay. Baron Kato, in his speech of April 25th, which, among other things, was devoted to the failure of the Dairen Conference, said the following:

“The endless postponement of Siberia’s evacuation, merely for the sake of prestige, is leading to a sharp estrangement between Russia and Japan, and to the increase of the already heavy burden of taxation of the Japanese people, requires further sufferings on the part of the Japanese troops in Siberia and calls forth the suspicion of the foreign powers towards Japan.”

Soviet Russia demands the evacuation of Siberia in the interests of the Japanese as well as of the Russian people.

If; however, Japan vacates Siberia (and it will be compelled in its own interest to do so), it has two ways of doing so: Either she transfers power in Vladivostok to the White Adventurers, or hands over Vladvistok and the other occupied districts to the Republic of the Far East which is allied with Soviet Russia.

Perhaps many Japanese circles hope to be able to intimidate us by playing the menace of the White Government against us. We trust that such hopes are not entertained by a single serious man who has an influence upon Japanese foreign policy. For if Japan should surrender Vladvistok to the White Guards, she will be faced with the question of supporting these White Guards, or not? If the Japanese Government supports them, then it will have to occupy Eastern Siberia again, and once more squander enormous sums of money. If, however, Japan actually desires to get out of the Siberian cul-de-sac and really to cease supporting the White Guards, the latter will then be wiped out, and Japan will find herself face to face with the Far East Republic and with Soviet Russia.

Hence, from the Japanese point of view it would be a senseless thing to prolong the negotiations unnecessarily, to twist and turn, and to pretend that the negotiations in Tchan-Tchun are negotiations with the Far East Republic in the presence of and not peace negotiations with Soviet Russia. Japan’s diplomats are known for their sobriety and matter-of-factness, and we are surprised at these covert tricks. The representatives of the Far East Republic have often enough declared, plainly and concisely, that they do not even dream of separating from Soviet Russia, and that the Far East Republic is only a buffer state which was formed in order to avoid conflicts between Japan and Russia. That was said at the time when the whole world was not yet convinced of the hopelessness of the intervention policy. Now, however, Japan is also convinced of it.

It suffices to observe the tone of the Japanese press on the occasion of the Rappalo Treaty, to see that the Japanese bourgeoisie also perceived the complete bankruptcy of the intervention policy. The organ of the Sen-Yu-Kay Party, Ziu-O is quite clear on this, and writes on the French policy as follows:

“France attempted to support Poland in order to erect a barrier between Russia and Germany, and sought after the formation of an anti-Soviet Alliance of the Baltic States, Roumania and Poland. France supported the anti-Bolshevik movement in every possible manner. But her policy led precisely to those results which she most feared. It led to a yet closer rapprochement between Russia and Germany, – to the signing of the Rappalo Treaty. France must take the blame upon herself for all this. The importance of the Rappalo Treaty consists in this, that it drew Russia out of her international isolation and isolated France instead.”

We hope that after the negotiations of Tchan-Tchun are over, we shall not be compelled to wonder over the fact that the Japanese are so sensible with regard to the affairs of France but not when it is a case of their own interests.

Indeed the negotiations at the little station on the Manchurian Railway, which, as is known, is not a chief artery of world capitalism, represent a part of the general policy of compromise between the Russia of the Workers and Peasants, the first country of the World Revolution, and countries of International Capitalism. This policy of compromise is, under the given circumstances, historically unavoidable for both parties.

This compromise between Japan and Russia will be possible if Japan does not intend to play the role of Commodore Perry, who in the year 1854, compelled the Japanese Government to capitulate to American and European capital. Soviet Russia proved at Genoa and at the Hague that she is only minded to conclude such treaties from which she herself can derive benefits. The Soviet Government is prepared to enter into such a treaty with Japan, and Japan will also be able to reap advantages from it. There can, of course, be no talk of anything which gives prior rights to Japan, still less of such rights which Japan does not grant to other countries. If the newspaper Kokumin, (the organ of the liberal militarists), acts towards Russia as the champion of world capitalism, it suffices to call attention to the complaints of the English and American press, which accuse Japan in that she herself does not allow foreign capitalists a free hand. The purchase of land and soil by foreigners, the activity of foreign insurance companies, etc. etc., – all these are bound up with enormous difficulties.

The negotiations in Tchan-Tchun will lead to favorable results, only if Japan acts strictly according to the A.B.C. of good businessmen. “Only that business which is advantageous to both parties can be a lasting business.”

Last updated on 3 September 2020