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Jack Weber

Will Japan Now Attempt
to Attack the USSR?

(July 1944)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 28, 12 July 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union tends to restore the situation that existed before 1939. The great fear of Russia at that time was of an attack on two fronts, the Western and the Eastern. The cancellation in blood of the Stalin-Hitler pact serves almost automatically to cancel also the Soviet-Japanese pact. The Japanese militarists are forced to reconsider their position and to decide on a new line that will, in their opinion, best suit their imperialist purposes.

The danger of another treacherous invasion of the Soviet Union, this time in the Far East, is manifest in the whole situation. If the Japanese diplomats and generals maintain complete silence for a time, it will be due to the simple fact that they had not looked for so early a denouement of the fascist plot against Soviet Russia in Europe. They had prepared, following the previous line of Hitler, to turn south. Their immediate attention had become focused on the Dutch East Indies and on Thailand as a first step towards Singapore. This situation had reached more or less of a stalemate owing to Japan’s fear of the Anglo-Dutch-American coalition against her. Nevertheless the desire for the southern adventure had caused a withdrawal of troops and forces from China and Manchukuo. Thus Japan was totally unprepared to exploit the new alignment of forces.

The press continues to carry stories to the effect that Japan will remain neutral in the Russo-German war. It is repeated that Japan will soon take further measures against the French in Thailand in order to press forward towards the great menace of Singapore. But reflection will show that Japan must prepare to face the effects of the new phase of the second World War. Any move southwards would bring inevitably a clash with England and America. It is perfectly clear that the American imperialists do not propose to stand by while the Mikado’s forces extend their conquests still further. The United States sees its entire future at stake in Singapore and will fight any move to infiltrate into the Malay region in a manner that would endanger this great base.

If such a war began, it is clear that it would soon transfer itself to Vladivostok and Siberia. The USSR would be anxious to get all the help possible from the United States through this port. Japan has practically served notice already that she will not permit such help. The Japanese proposal to designate the waters about Vladivostok as a zone of her own paramount interest, not to be used for getting help to Russia, is the first step in the direction of Japanese intervention in the North. The Nipponese militarists fear that the United States will secure a base of operations against Japan not thousands of miles away – as is Singapore – but mere hundreds of miles away. It would not be a big step from all-out aid to Stalin, to an alliance against Japan and Germany. We do not predict such an alliance, but merely state Japan’s fear of one.

Japan Preparing to Fight USSR

We may expect, therefore, that Japan will soon begin to transfer her armies back to the north to be prepared for all eventualities. If Hitler gains tremendous victories over Stalin in Europe, the Japanese will be tempted to carry out their original plan of invading Siberia and seizing the Maritime Provinces. In that case Vladivostok will be one of their first goals. But as is often the case, their desire to prevent the United States from getting a toe-hold in Siberia may precipitate just that which the Japanese generals fear. It is most unlikely that Roosevelt will refrain from sending help to Russia through Siberia because of any Japanese threat. His only fear of aiding Stalin now would be that the material sent might fall into German hands in case the Red Army cannot hold out for a long time. At any rate, some measure of help has already started, so that the clash of interests between Japan and the United States will soon find a testing ground in the Far East.

There are many who think that with Hitler’s invasion and the respite given to England as a result, the United States will be held back from entering the war. But actually the new stage of the European war has disturbed the stalemate in the Pacific. Things are once more moving towards a crisis there, owing to Japan’s need to make a sharp turn-about in accord with the move of the Axis partner. The talk of neutrality merely covers intensive preparations for intervention in the near future. That will bring the Pacific war closer.

Pacific War Will Begin in Siberia

Once war breaks out in the Pacific it will naturally involve not merely Siberia, but all the imperialist possessions as well. But the first great battles will center in the north, in Siberia. Naturally Stalin would like to see the Japanese remain neutral so as to leave the Siberian rear alone. Soviet Russia could then concentrate on the European enemy. But Stalin must be well aware that the pact with Japan became another one of those scraps of paper the moment Hitler marched his armies across the Russian border. Stalin would prefer (so long as he still exercises any choice in the matter) not to have any capitalist troops on Siberian soil. But if Japan attacks, he will probably not be averse to coming to some agreement with the United States, giving the latter bases on the Siberian mainland for operations against Japan.

Even if Stalin should suffer quick defeat, in which case Japan would act very quickly, the outlook of United States aid to the Siberian forces that remain is not excluded. For despite the extreme importance of the English struggle to United States imperialism, Roosevelt could not afford tb allow the riches of the Pacific area to fall into the clutches of the Japanese without a fight.

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