Weber (Jacobs) Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Jack Weber

Japan Sends Another Special Envoy
to “Discuss” Far Eastern Crisis

(22 November 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 47, 22 November 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The expansion of Japanese imperialism has taken place historically by a process of shrewd timing and bargaining. Every time that Europe has been engulfed in war or crisis, the Japanese militarists took advantage and reached out for loot in the Pacific. Always too there has been the same use of rivalries and contradictions among the other powers that made for a good diplomatic bargain. Thus Japan made full use of the intense rivalry between Czarist Russia and Great Britain at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. The seizure of Manchuria was timed when the economic crisis had reached such depths that no country would have dreamed of going to war for the sake of China.

The attempt to subdue the rest of China and to make this vast country a Japanese colony, was timed when fascism had become such a menace in Europe that the powers wanted to have their hands free to deal with the new threats of German imperialism. Japanese timing was again perfect. The generals made only one little mistake. They felt that the seizure of all the ports and the coastline and the industrial centers of the mainland would surely force the Chinese into submission by sheer starvation.

But the very backwardness of China proved her salvation. The Chinese had not yet learned, as an advanced nation, to depend on machinery and mechanization. Human muscles were still the main source of power in production. The Chinese could retreat far into the interior with their simple tools and live on the vast land by raising their own food supply and plying their handicrafts. Each locality could support itself.

It was this ability to continue on their own that threw the entire Japanese machine out of gear. Instead of an “incident” lasting a few months, the Japanese had a full-scale war on their hands, a never-ending war that has brought Japan to the verge of economic ruin.

Japan’s Second Miscalculation

Japan’s aim was to continue its expansion by taking further advantage of the war in Europe to seize the colonies of the other powers as well as a part or all of Siberia. If Japan’s hands had not been tied to such an extent in China, the militarists would probably have intervened before now in Siberia. Because China was not yet subdued and required that Japanese troops be maintained there, the imperialists did not dare to invade Siberia until the Soviet Union had been brought to her knees by Hitler. The Japanese relied on Hitler to achieve a quick victory.

This was the second miscalculation, both of Japan and of Hitler, the Red Army stood up better than the Japanese had expected.

Moscow still stands. It is quite likely that Japan was to get the signal to intervene in Siberia the moment Moscow fell. The very showing made by the Red Army made the Mikado’s generals hesitate. The action of the United States and Great Britain in coming to the support of Stalin and in putting the economic squeeze on an already exhausted Japan has further thrown confusion into the hearts of the Nipponese imperialists. They are driven to seek more loot both southwards and northwards but they must act cautiously and seek again the the right timing.

The United States is not yet so much involved in the Atlantic that the Japanese can feel they can go ahead full steam in the Pacific. If the United States became involved by an actual declaration of war against Hitler, the Japanese might once more seize the initiative and move. But for the moment the risk is too great, the enemies too numerous.

In such a situation a nation resorts to diplomacy to try to obtain some partial gains by bargaining while awaiting a more opportune moment to strike. Hence we see the play to gain time with a special diplomat flying to Washington to present “new” proposals. Kurusu himself, the diplomat chosen for this “delicate” work, does not have the slightest faith in his mission. In fact his remarks to friends in Hawaii, “strangely” made public, show that he thinks not only that his mission will fail, but that the very failure may prove the signal for a new Japanese move toward war, United States or no United States.

Kurusu’s Mission to the United States

As has been pointed out here many times, the clash of imperialist interests between the two countries is too fundamental to be easily compromised. The newspapers speculate that possibly the Japanese will demand the cessation of all help to China and pressure on Chiang Kai-Shek to come to terms with the Japanese. Such terms would mean the ceding to Japan of a large part of Chinese territory. What does Japan offer to the United States in return? Secret diplomacy docs not permit us in on the conference in Washington. All we can do is to surmise from the facts we have at hand. Probably Japan would offer American capitalism a partially open door; that is, many economic concessions for trading with the new country set up. Also the Japanese may promise not to intervene in Siberia for a period. There might even be an offer to withdraw from the Axis for a suitable consideration. None of this can really be satisfactory to American imperialism which is beginning to get into its stride in military production and to lay out its own time table for conquest.

The crisis in the Pacific is therefore far from a solution, even from an imperialist angle. The postponement of the next move will not mean the end of friction. The explosion cannot be far distant. When it comes, whether the immediate move be to shut off the Burma Road or some other, intervention in Siberia will not be long in following. Japan has hardly concentrated any large number of troops in Indo-China for an adventure towards the Burma Road. At best this could be only a first step. The main armies have been concentrated in Manchuria for a drive against the Red Army.

Weber (Jacobs) Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 22 March 2019