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Japanese Imperialists Press On

Unite the Working Class Against the Capitalist War Plots

(November 1931)

From The Militant, Vol. IV No. 32 (Whole No. 91), 21 November 1931, p. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

There is no cessation of military activities between Japan and China on the Manchurian fields. On the contrary, Japan has increased her military forces and magnified her aggressions in Manchuria. Hundreds fall dead and wounded in what the capitalist class merely calls “skirmishes” between Japan and General Ma’s Chinese forces in Manchuria. Japan now more brazenly aims for domination of Manchuria and raises the prospective penetration of Eastern Mongolia. Tsitihar may be taken and sacked any day by the Japanese, who thus deliberately aim at incitement of the Soviet Republic within whose sphere of influence and agreements with China Tsitihar is located.

The League of Nations is now meeting in Paris to attempt to “settle” the Manchurian invasion. The Japanese flatly declined the League of Nations “demand” to evacuate Manchuria of all armed forces by November 16. The League of Nations proves impotent, and the equally powerless Chinese government still looks to the League for salvation. Nor has the United States been successful in her diplomatic approaches and negotiations. On the war front against Japanese imperialism, apart from incidental resistance, China comes beseeching and groveling for peace. Japan, aggressive and certain of its powerful position, sneers at the requests of the capitalist nations, and demands unconditional recognition of her “five points” first. Only the prospect that the Soviet Union may yet be compelled to defend herself against the systematic incitements by Japan gives the latter pause.

The Japanese Demands

Japan’s five demands upon China and the capitalist powers are summarized as follows:

  1. repudiation of aggressive conduct by China and Japan (Hear! Hear!);
  2. respect of China’s territorial integrity (if Japan finds it not possible to slice a big chunk immediately);
  3. suppression of all organized movements interfering with trade and stirring up of international hatreds (this refers to the economic boycott of Japanese goods by China, a thorn in the side of Japanese merchants and capitalists);
  4. effective protection of Japanese subjects in Manchuria in their trade, etc.;
  5. acceptance of the treaty rights of Japan in Manchuria (that is, the continued acceptance of the infamous 21 points forced upon China by Japan.)

According to reports in the capitalist press, it is said that the “compromise” plan of the League of Nations is as follows: To have direct negotiations between Japan and China on the first four points, but that the completion of evacuation shall not depend on these direct negotiations. Regarding the fifth point involving the 21 points, negotiations thereon shall begin after evacuation has been completed.

Situation Remains Critical

As The Militant goes to press, affairs remain at a standstill in respect to the cessation of war hostilities, as well as negotiations for peace. The situation remains critical and the danger of a conflict that would involve all nations in war has not been removed even for the immediate period. Japan has continuously and directly incited and provoked the Soviet Union; the other capitalist powers, led by the United States, have continued also to lie about and slander the Soviet Union, which has a determined peace policy. All the imperialist powers have the ultimate object to unify their forces in a common front of the imperialist bandits against the Workers’ Republic.

As a matter of fact Japan’s invasion of Manchuria has been given encouragement by some of the imperialist powers, such as Great Britain, and, to an extent by the United States also. Each of them has a close eye to a prospective share in the plundering of Manchuria, Mongolia and China in the forthcoming period. It is not to be forgotten that the United States already has investments of great sums in Manchuria; and though hesitating at open warfare now, fears the constant encroachments of Japan. It prefers at the present time a settlement short of war.

The United States has tremendous hopes, both in Manchuria and China, for wide commercial relations and capital investments. A unified National Government, sufficiently unqualified however to find it necessary to make concessions of an economic and political character to the United States, is the more desirable to her, as against a completely disintegrated China, subject to plunder by all the imperialist powers.

Japan Determined To Dominate Manchuria

Japan, no matter what the outcome of the present embroglia, is determined to intrench herself in Manchuria, having, in fact, eventual annexation in mind, as well as the further economic penetration of China proper.

Japan feels quite cocky about it all and says she can do a better job of exploitation of the Manchurian masses than others. In Manchuria, for instance, Chinese warlords have forced upon the population some seven billions of paper money, against which there is a reserve only of 60 million in silver yens ($30,000,000). Of 200 million yens collected in taxes, 120,000,000 reached the viceroy’s office and of the latter amount 80 million went into armaments expenditures. So as far as exploitation of the Chinese masses in Manchuria is concerned Japanese control would represent only a change of masters, and the Japanese feel they are more efficient at exploitation than the Chinese militarists. It is to be noted that of the 30 million population in Manchuria, over 29 and a half million of these are Chinese, and the remaining half million composed of Japanese, Koreans, etc.

The Capitalist Powers Want Their Booty

The Foreign powers are apprehensive of Japan’s Manchurian invasion, feeling that Japan is taking undue advantage of the situation to create monopolies, and that, they complain, would be “violation of the open door”, that is, the infamous policy for common capitalist exploitation of the resources and population of Manchuria and China. The complaint of the capitalists is not at all at the exploitation engaged in by Japan, but at the fact that the Japanese “have their feet in every trough” and the others can’t get in. The Japs, in short, result what may of the momentary struggle, are getting and expect to maintain a trade grip in Manchuria, despite the temporary stagnation of trade caused by the battles and the economic boycott of Japanese goods by the Chinese.

In Japan itself everything is being done to foster the jingo spirit. While clanging the firearms and beating the war drums, the Japanese bourgeoisie appeal to the narrow “national” interests of the Japanese people. They point out that Japan has already for decades been speeding up her industrial development, finding it necessary more and more to push into Chinese territory for essential raw materials, markets, and capital investment. To maintain her present social, economic and industrial life, they continue, it is necessary by all means to hold and to extend their influence and domination in Manchuria and China.

The Aims of the Chinese Bourgeoisie

On the other hand, the comparatively young Chinese bourgeoisie, hoping to inflict a final or long-enduring defeat upon the Chinese workers and peasants, want and expect to develop China greatly on bourgeois economic and industrial lines. Hence they wish to exploit the Chinese masses for themselves. Here presents itself an immediate and outstanding contradiction of capitalist development in the Far East; and, further, we must remember, both England and the United States, especially, are making every effort to increase their footholds in China. These facts alone increase the prospects of war on a world scale to the bursting point.

The government at Tokyo constantly emphasizes its economic problem. The Japanese envoy to France and to the League of Natrons Council, Kenkichi Yoshizawa points out that “beginning with the South Manchurian Railway we have made investments of a purely economic character ... For the protection of this railway zone we have the right ... to station 15,000 troops therein ... Our institutions, railway rights, mining exploitation, timber felling and the like are based upon treaties.”

Hence, Japan concludes, it is only exercising “self-defense” in Manchuria, even as does the United States in Nicaragua, Haiti, Cuba, Santa Domingo, etc.! In brief, Japan operates in Manchuria after the manner of the Western powers that have for decades pilfered and slaughtered in all parts of the world to make secure their pillage, particularly in the exploitation of the colonial and semi-colonial countries.

Japan is determined to rule in Manchuria. In addition to seizing Mukden and occupying additional territory, the Japanese are setting up a puppet Manchurian government, a so-called “independent, autonomous government”, which simply means a government of Japanese tools easy to control. The “independence.” movement in Manchuria is therefore but another screen to mask Japan’s depredations. Only when the Chinese masses in Manchuria establish a Soviet Manchuria, will there be a genuine independent and autonomous Manchuria.

Japan lays her base for any eventuality – peace or continued war. Japan is disturbed that her gold standard also may go into the discard. Her financial and banking authorities profess to be alarmed thereat, because of the Manchurian situation and the speculation that has already taken place with the yen. It is desirous of checking the steady outflow of gold but at the same time must intrench the position of the yen in other countries, particularly in the United States with whom economic relations are increasing. By the end of November it is expected that 105 millions of dollars in gold metal will have reached the United States from Japan, by which it is hoped to strengthen Japan’s position in the United States, as well as to stop speculation over the yen at home.

American Imperialism at Its “Job”

The position of the Chinese National Government of Chiang Kai-Shek is grotesque throughout. The Kuo Min Tang, which does not hesitate to slay tens upon thousands of the flower of the Chinese proletariat, is powerless before the Japanese invasion. It continues to call piteously upon the League of Nations and American imperialism for assistance. The latter is determining the best way both to check Japan and to plunder China. So far there has been no interference with the shipment of 6,000 tons of nitroglycerin which the Japanese government is reputed to have ordered from American manufacturers. The blood-profit is there, without as yet any difficulties for the United States and is therefore allowed.

The United States Government, through Secretary of State Stimson, is winding its way through secret negotiations, which, no matter what the immediate outcome, can bode no good for the workers of China, Japan, or America. When the imperialists are compelled to hide their schemes, they are more than ever fraught with ill for the workers. War alliances for the future are no doubt being consummated in secret between the imperialist powers. The outstanding aim is a combination against the Soviet Workers’ Republic. All workers must be on guard, and demand that the secret treaties be made public, so that the war-mongers can be unmasked. The behind-the-doors negotiations must be made known to all. The imperialists are preparing war; all workers must be made to realize the danger and to work for its prevention.

Tactics for the Communists

Previously we have pointed out the necessary tactical lines for the Communist movement to follow in the Japanese-Chinese war and in the prospective war danger. These remain the same. The defense of China and Manchuria can best and only be achieved by a struggle of the Japanese workers against the Japanese imperial government; by the development of the struggles in China of the workers and peasants against the Chinese bourgeoisie, militarists and landlords, for the overthrow of the Chiang Kai-Shek government and the Kuo Min Tang, the hangmen of the Chinese proletariat and peasantry. There is the most imperative need for the unity of the Chinese Communists in this terrific struggle. The Comintern must be compelled to adopt this unity policy, despite Stalin, the splitter of the Communist movement. In every country the workers must be aroused to the dangers of world war.

It is for the Comintern to adopt a genuine international policy on all questions if there is to be a successful mobilization of the world’s proletariat against the efforts of the bourgeoisie to accomplish a unity of the capitalist powers to destroy the Soviet Republic. Less talk by the Stalinists of more or less fictitious Soviet Republics in China. More concentration on the revival of the morale and organizations of the Chinese working class; more efforts to rebuild a solidly founded Chinese Communist Party. No more talk about possible “alliances” with the Chinese Kuo Min Tang, either of the “Right” or “Left” variety. Rebuild the Comintern on its original Leninist foundations, so that once again it will be firmly impressed that a real defense of the Soviet Union and against a growing world war danger, rests upon the ability of the Communists in each country to organize the working class into labor unions, to draw them toward the Communist movement, and to bring them into militant struggles against their native exploiters.

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