Goldman Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

M. Morrison

Stalin’s Denunciation
of Soviet-Japan Pact

(28 April 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 17, 28 April 1945, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

When, after the conference at Yalta, the announcement was made that a United Nations Security Conference would be held at San Francisco, beginning April 25, and when it became known that both the Soviet Union and China would be present at the conference, the correct deduction was made that Stalin had decided to denounce the neutrality pact which the Soviet Union signed with Japan on April 13, 1941. This pact was to be valid for five years and automatically renewed for another five years unless, a year before the expiration of the first five year period, either party announced its intention to end or modify it.

Up to now Stalin refused to enter into discussions with the Allies if China was present, lest the presence of that country should be interpreted by Japan as a violation of the pact of neutrality. The pact still has a year to run but Stalin now feels free to participate in a conference where Chinese spokesmen are present.

Does the denunciation of the treaty mean that Stalin has decided to declare war op Japan in the near future? Formally the treaty has another year of life but it would be foolish to base one’s judgment on the existence of a treaty. Molotov cited the attack of Hitler on the Soviet Union and the Alliance of Japan with Hitler as justification for the denunciation of the treaty but Japan’s help to Hitler could easily have been made a cause for the breaking of the treaty and a declaration of war at any time since Hitler’s attack. Only gullible people believe that treaties really determine the relations between nations.

Stalin’s Aims

What motivated Stalin in denouncing the treaty are the facts that the war in Europe is drawing to a close and that his aims in the Far East need to be asserted soon, because Japan is on her last legs. His attitude in the Far East has become a very active one and has displaced the passive attitude which he had to assume because he was so occupied with the war against Hitler. He does not intend to permit the United States alone to determine the fate of the Far East. He has certain aims which he wants to realize and the denunciation of the treaty constitutes notice to everybody that he intends to realize them.

* * *

It is assumed that what Stalin wants is all of Southern and Northern Manchuria plus Korea. As always he would prefer to achieve his aims without going to war. It is hardly likely that after almost four years of a devastating conflict the Soviet Union is in a condition to wage another war with the ease that most correspondents so glibly assert. The denunciation of the treaty affords him an opportunity to negotiate with Japan. What chance is there for a peaceful surrender of Manchuria and Korea by Japan to the Soviet Union? Hardly any. Stalin must therefore be prepared to enter the conflict whenever he thinks the situation demands it.

Entering the war would enable him to occupy Manchuria and Korea, place his own puppet governments in control, and exclude both Kuomintang China and American imperialism from any control of that important section of China.

Stalin’s ambitions in the Far East bring him into direct conflict with Kuomintang China and U.S. imperialism. That is why it is difficult to believe the assertions of some commentators that Roosevelt at Yalta agreed to give Manchuria to Stalin, if the Soviet Union declares war on Japan. When it is a question of Rumania or Poland, American imperialism will make a few half-hearted protests on behalf of the “principles of democracy.” But the interests of American imperialism are not greatly affected by Stalin’s seizure of the Balkan or Baltic countries.

Main Rivalries

American imperialist interests would be seriously affected by Stalin’s gaining control of Manchuria and Korea. It is not an accident that soon after Yalta an official announcement was made by American representatives that they can send no arms to the Chinese “Communists.” If Stalin declares war on Japan the Chinese Stalinists will play a very important role. It is they who will do a large share of the fighting and possibly constitute the puppet government in Manchuria. American imperialism can hardly look with favor upon such a development.

Undoubtedly Roosevelt yielded much to Stalin with reference to Poland, the Baltic and Balkan countries but it is exceedingly unlikely that he promised very much as far as Manchuria is concerned. The most acute rivalries between the Stalinist bureaucracy and American imperialism do not lie primarily in Eastern Europe but in the Far East.

* * *

When Hitler’s armies attacked the Soviet Union the Trotskyists unhesitatingly came out for the defense of the Soviet Union. That did not mean that we supported the Stalinist bureaucracy or any of its foreign or domestic policies. It meant only that we defended that nationalized property against destruction by German imperialism.

Now that the Soviet Union is safe as far as German imperialism is concerned and since the danger to Soviet nationalized property comes mainly from Stalin’s domestic policies and his suppression of the European Revolution, the military defense of the Soviet Union against imperialist attack is no longer the main task. The main task now is the defense of the European Revolution against Stalin and the struggle against the Stalinist bureaucracy within the Soviet Union. As comrade Munis says in his article in the March issue of the Fourth International, the military defense against imperialism is now subordinated to the struggle against Stalinism on all fronts.

Another Crime

Will the situation change if Stalin attacks Japan? I can not of course speak for the party which will consider the problem if and when it arises. I can only say for myself that the Soviet Union is in no danger from Japanese imperialism. Stalin’s entry into the war against Japan can under no circumstances be justified on the basis of any danger to the Soviet Union coming from Japan.

Whatever our decision may then be with reference to the slogan of “Defense of the Soviet Union,” it is certain that Stalin will be committing another terrible crime against the Soviet masses, if he throws the Soviet masses, who have suffered so much in the last three years, into another war, when it is no longer a question of the necessity of defending the Soviet Union.

Goldman Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 5 November 2016