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Henry Judd

Burma, Malaya, East Indies

The Stakes in the Far East

(December 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 52, 29 December 1941, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

As the war in the Pacific grows and spreads, the number of its innocent victims increases day by day. These victims – the colonial peoples of the areas involved – live in those lands over which the Japanese imperialists and the Anglo-American imperialists are fighting – Indo-China, Philippines, Hong Kong, Burma, Malaya, Timor, Borneo, Dutch East Indies, etc.

Compared to these native people (Chinese, Indo-Chinese, Filipinos, Burmese, etc.) the Japanese soldiers and the “democratic” soldiers are an infinitesimal minority – probably less than 1 per cent. Yet, unarmed and unconsulted, kept down by one or another imperialist gang for centuries, these people are the real victims of the war between the rival capitalist armies and navies. Here are some facts about some of these places that have been unwillingly dragged into the mess.


BURMA: Already invaded from Thailand by the Japanese militarists. A crown colony of the British Empire furnishing the “mother” country with teakwood, tin, tungsten, silver, oil and rice. Rangoon, its major seaport, serves as the water port of entrance for supplies that go over the Burma Road. Its population of 15,000,000 people has no democracy and is ruled in exactly the same way that India is ruled.


HONG KONG: Already partly destroyed and captured by the Japanese imperialists. It had been British ruled for exactly 100 years. It was seized during the Opium War of 1839–42 when the Chinese government fought England because English merchants, were bringing “civilization” to China by way of this port, in the form of opium! Hong Kong (1,500,000 population) was a great commercial and trading center for the British. A good half of its population consists of coolies who slaved for the British and now must slave for the new exploiters, the Japanese.


MALAYA: Now under Japanese attack from land and sea. A British colony for close to 100 years – rich in rubber and tin, with great strategic and commercial ports. A major plum for the imperialists! Its total population of 6,000,000 (Chinese, Indians and Malayans) have worked on rubber plantations, tin mines and docks for long years – to the great profit of their English masters. America’s rulers would give anything to replace the British, provided the Japanese imperialists don’t get there first.


DUTCH EAST INDIES: A great network of islands, including Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Papua, etc. Enormously rich in rubber, tin, foods, oil silver and gold. Great stretches of unexplored and undeveloped lands. The Dutch Shell Company – aided by Standard Oil and British companies – which rules over these territories, has earned a deadly reputation as slave drivers of the East Indian people. We predict particularly heavy fighting in these lands because the imperialists are really set on seizing the riches of the islands.


The same story – with slight variations – holds true for every island and bit of land that enters the war of the Pacific. Timor, Mindanao, Thailand, Sarawak, etc. – all are fought over for the riches and profits they might bring to the foreign imperialists.

When the Japanese drop leaflets over Hong Kong and Malaya saying: “Fellow Asiatics: Drive out the foreign white devils,” the people answer: “Yes, and you too.”

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