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Japanese And Chinese Immigrant Activists

Organizing in American and International Communist Movements, 1919-1933

Josephine Fowler

Publication Year: 2007

Japanese and Chinese immigrants in the United States have traditionally been characterized as hard workers who are hesitant to involve themselves in labor disputes or radical activism. How then does one explain the labor and Communist organizations in the Asian immigrant communities that existed from coast to coast between 1919 and 1933? Their organizers and members have been, until now, largely absent from the history of the American Communist movement. In Japanese and Chinese Immigrant Activists, Josephine Fowler brings us the first in-depth account of Japanese and Chinese immigrant radicalism inside the United States and across the Pacific.

            Drawing on multilingual correspondence between left-wing and party members and other primary sources, such as records from branches of the Japanese Workers Association and the Chinese Nationalist Party, Fowler shows how pressures from the Comintern for various sub-groups of the party to unite as an “American” working class were met with resistance. The book also challenges longstanding stereotypes about the relationships among the Communist Party in the United States, the Comintern, and the Soviet Party.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ix


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

I have been looking forward to the opportunity to express my thanks for a long time now. First, I am profoundly indebted to my original advisors, Sara Evans and David Roediger, and other committee members, Catherine Ceniza Choy, Erika Lee, Josephine Lee, and Peter Rachleff, who each in her or his own way...

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pp. 1-14

In a letter dated 5 January 1928, and signed in his capacity as editor of the Japanese-language paper Kaikyusen (Class War), Japanese immigrant Communist Kenmotsu Sadaichi (aliases Sasaki and Vasiliev) wrote to veteran Japanese Communist Katayama Sen in Moscow. After noting that when Katayama’s last...

Part I: Origins and Beginnings

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1. Historical Background

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pp. 17-30

By 1920 revolution in Europe had not materialized as predicted, but mass demonstrations against Japanese imperialism and European imperialism had taken place in Korea and China in the spring of 1919; thus, the Bolsheviks began to look toward the east for support from revolutionary movements in...

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2. Study Groups, the Oriental Branch, and “Hands Off China” Demonstrations

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pp. 31-60

The “Twenty-One Conditions,” which were ratified at the Second Comintern Congress, signaled the beginning of the process that would culminate in the “universalisation of Bolshevism.” The conditions stated among other things that every organization seeking admission to the International must adhere...

Part II: From the Top Down

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3. “The Red Capital of the Great Bolshevik Republic”

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pp. 63-73

Moscow was, in Katayama’s words, “The Red Capital of the Great Bolshevik Republic.” From Moscow, directives, wisdom, and inspiration flowed outward to the national sections of the Comintern, while representatives of national communist parties in turn traveled to Moscow to attend congresses...

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4. Advancing Bolshevism from Moscow Outward and Back and Forth across the Pacific

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pp. 74-98

German Communist Otto Braun recalls his years spent working as Comintern military adviser to the CCP in China and notes the varying levels of risk faced by non-Chinese versus Chinese Communists in Shanghai during the years 1932–1933: “the conditions under which we worked were hazardous...

Part III: From the Bottom Up

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5. From East to West and West to East

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pp. 101-119

The Communist press issued this brief statement at the Congress of the Federation of Maritime Workers, which convened in January 1925 in Moscow; the document exposed some contradictions at the center of the Communist-led pan-Pacific revolutionary trade union movement. These stirring words...

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6. Left-wing Chinese Immigrant Activists

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pp. 120-138

In late March 1927 left-wing Chinese activists Shi Huang, Shih Tso, and Xu Yongying wrote a “confidential” letter to General Secretary Jay Lovestone under Shi’s home address in San Francisco to inform the Party of the recent formation by the KMT in America’s Central Committee of a Committee...

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7. Chinese Workers in America

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pp. 139-169

In the wake of Chiang Kai-shek’s anti-Communist coup in April 1927, as the ongoing intraparty struggle within the KMT in America became ever more fierce, the presence of Chinese immigrants in the American Party was formalized through the formation in May of a Chinese Bureau of the...

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8. Formation of the Oriental Branch of the ILD

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pp. 170-199

Like its parent organization, the Oriental Branch took as its mission support of all workers “within” and without America, including immigrants, class war prisoners and their families, “the poor” who together formed “a marvelous labor class,” and peoples who were being “trampled by...

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pp. 200-205

On March 23, 1934, the head of the West Coast union William Lewis, at the request of President Roosevelt, called off a planned strike by San Francisco longshoremen. In the midst of a bitter fight with District 13 DO Sam Darcy over the role of the Party and the Communist-led MWIU in the organizing...


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pp. 207-262


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pp. 263-272

About the Author

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pp. 273

E-ISBN-13: 9780813543543
E-ISBN-10: 0813543541
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813540405

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 10
Publication Year: 2007