Proletarians and oppressed people of the world, unite!
—First Congress of the Peoples of the East, Baku, September 1920
The Russian Revolution of 1917 raised a profound question: was socialism a means to promote national unity and wealth, or was its goal to achieve global human liberation from both capitalism and imperialism? In imperial Japan, as elsewhere in the non-Western world, the answer was neither obvious nor uniform. This question, however, was even more complicated in Japan because the Russian Revolution happened at a time when Japan approached the fiftieth anniversary of its own great revolution, the Meiji Revolution of 1868, and when the Japanese public began to contemplate the historical foundations and future of their own modernized imperial state. As such, the Russian Revolution provoked fierce debates among supporters and opponents alike about the relationships among the state, society, individuals, and the national community; and finally, the objectives of the Japanese imperial project. This book explores Japan’s disparate responses to the Russian Revolution during the 1920s and demonstrates how the debate about Soviet Russia and its communist ideology became a debate over what constituted modern Japan.
After their successful takeover of power in October 1917, Russian Bolsheviks declared a war not only on capitalism, but no less significantly a war on imperialism.1 Russian Bolsheviks, however, envisioned their revolution as the first in a series of world proletarian revolutions. The Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin specifically insisted that without the success of proletarian revolutions in Europe, the Russian Revolution and the Bolshevik regime would not be able to survive. However, by 1920, as communist revolutions failed to materialize in Europe, and as the Red Army was gaining control over Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East, the center of gravity of the Russian Revolution shifted to East Asia. It was in East Asia, as well as in the Middle East, where the Russian Revolution merged with and acquired the character of an anti-imperialist struggle. And it was the anti-imperialist message that Russian Bolsheviks skillfully employed in East Asia to win over Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Mongol national liberation movements.2 Consequently, the anti-imperialist struggle became the cornerstone of the Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Mongol communist parties, established between 1921 and 1922 with the help of Russian Bolsheviks.3
In 1917, imperial Japan was the only Asian empire, having already formally incorporated Taiwan and Korea and enforced aggressive policies in northeastern China and the Russian East. After the collapse of tsarist Russia, Japan took advantage of the power vacuum in East Asia. Between 1918 and 1925, as part of the Allied intervention to contain the Bolshevik Revolution, Japan deployed considerable armed forces to the Russian Far East, Eastern Siberia, and northern Manchuria. Unlike other foreign interventionist forces, however, Japan actively interfered in the Russian Civil War, which prompted Russian Bolsheviks to declare imperial Japan to be a major threat to the survival of the Soviet state and the world proletarian revolution. “Japanese imperialism,” Lenin declared in 1918, was distinguished by an “unheard of bestiality combining the most modern technical implements with downright Asiatic torture.”4 Thus, Japan’s actions in Russia contributed in a way to the shape that the Soviet regime eventually took, characterized by a civil-military ruling model and permanent fear of “capitalist encirclement.” Soviet leaders, however, quickly realized that imperial Japan was Russia’s most formidable neighbor of any in the east or west, and if the Soviet regime wanted to survive, cooperation rather than confrontation must become the guiding principle of Soviet-Japanese relations.
Simultaneously, the Russian Bolsheviks hoped that Japan, as the only industrially advanced country in Asia, and its working class would become the vanguard for a communist and anti-imperialist revolution in the region. Their hopes were supported by the significant political crisis that Japan was going through as the revolution was unfolding in Russia. After the Great War, growing dissent and discontent in the Japanese metropole were aided by wartime inflation and a postwar depression that created what Marxists of the time called a “revolutionary situation.” Peasant unrest surged during the Rice Riots of 1918, which involved over one million people and were directly caused by the deployment of Japanese troops to the Russian East. Workers were organizing and staging an increasing number of strikes and walkouts. Students from middle- and upper-class families and elite universities were radicalizing, and shortly afterward they became the main pool for the Japanese communist movement. Incited by the revolution, in 1918 one of the most famous radical student organizations, the Shinjinkai (New People Society), proclaimed the arrival of a new era in which a just society, a society for the people, was to be built in Japan.
From 1919 forward, antigovernment democratic movements were rapidly turning “red,” including the Shinjinkai, which renamed its journal Democracy to the Russian word for “the people,” Narod. Discrete movements dedicated to universal suffrage, socialism, labor, students, and women; the liberation of outcasts (Burakumin) and tenant farmers, each advanced demands for more political, social, and economic justice and equality. Nongovernmental grassroots organizations such as the liberal Reimeikai (1918), the pan-Asianist Yūzonsha (1919), the Japanese Socialist League (1920), the National Socialist group (1919), the Japanese Communist Party (JCP, 1921–22), and many other smaller organizations, sprang up around the country, from Hokkaido to Kyushu, to challenge the existing political and economic order. By the mid-1920s, the wide usage of words like capitalism, proletariat and bourgeoisie, class and class struggle, revolution, and political violence showed how deeply and quickly a Western and specifically Marxist vocabulary and vision of social and historical development had penetrated the public consciousness. Within the first few years, one of the main effects of the Russian Revolution in Japanese society was to promote a new understanding of the social structure, in which society was divided not simply between the poor and the rich but between fundamentally antagonistic social classes. Under the revolution’s impact, socialism began to be seriously considered in Japan as a solution to economic and political problems and an alternative to capitalism.
The novelty of the 1920s was that plans for domestic reforms began to be tightly linked to Japan’s foreign policy. In terms of international affairs, many in Japan perceived that Japan’s bureaucratic diplomacy failed to secure the country’s well-deserved rights on the Asian continent and in the Pacific; first at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 and then at the Washington Naval Conference of 1921–22. The Anti-Immigration Act of 1924 in the United States further fueled growing anti-Western sentiments among the public and decision makers. More and more public commentators and policy makers called for a new foreign policy, independent from the Anglo-American powers—which, they argued, would solve growing domestic problems as well. Japan’s foreign policy was perceived as an extension of its domestic policy—one could not exist without the other. In this context, the new Soviet state, with its radical anticapitalist and anti-imperialist ideology, came to be seen by many in a new—and positive—light, as an alternative to the Western hegemonic order.5
The chief claim of this book is that in Japan’s responses to the Russian Revolution, both geopolitical and ideological factors played equally important roles. Previous scholarship has tended to look at these factors separately, which resulted in a rather simple and even static picture: on one hand, there was a story of conflict between two ideological rivals, communist Russia and anticommunist Japan, and on the other hand, an uncomplicated story of the quick emergence of the uniformly communist Japanese Left. To complement the existing scholarship, this book brings together Japan’s interwar foreign policy and domestic political and ideological changes, and it highlights their entanglement in Japan’s responses to the Russian Revolution. Another intervention this book stages is to draw attention to the crucial importance of Korean and Chinese factors in Japan’s reaction to communism. I argue that both Japanese political and military policy makers, as well as the Japanese Left and Right, responded not simply to the events in Russia but to the revolutionary ferment they caused in colonial Korea and China. In this sense, it was not only revolutionary Russia but revolutionary Korea and China that conditioned Japan’s reactions to the Russian Revolution. Ultimately, diverse interpretations and responses to the revolution, in which both geopolitical and ideological factors played a role, reveal a riven Japan in which disparate visions of its future competed intensely with each other.
The book is thus divided into two parts. Part I concerns the diverse responses of Japanese foreign and domestic policy makers to the revolutionary process in Russia during the 1920s. Japan’s official relations with Soviet Russia were formulated by different interest groups—from liberals to conservatives, officials of the Foreign Ministry and army and naval offices, party politicians—and, finally, various pressure groups. It often has been assumed as a given in Western scholarship that the interwar Japanese political and military elite were naturally anticommunist. By examining proposed policies of these various groups vis-à-vis communist Russia, it becomes clear that their attitudes were much more nuanced, not as self-evident as has been presumed, and even counterintuitive.
Part II, in contrast, deals with Japanese leftists’ debates over the meaning of the Russian Revolution and the merits of socialism and communism. Despite its characteristic inward orientation and preoccupation with domestic politics, I argue that Japanese leftist debates were greatly influenced by international politics of the day. The Soviet advance in East Asia and mass communist conversion in Korea and China had an enormous impact on Japanese leftist discourse. The Russian Revolution had the effect of an ideological earthquake in Japan, and in East Asia in general, after which the landscape looked very different: some moved to the Far Left, and many gravitated to the Far Right. However, this process took some time to settle down because the Russian Revolution itself was ongoing throughout the 1920s, sending mixed messages to leftists around the world, including Japan.
Japan’s engagement with international communism, both abroad and at home, had an enormous impact, leaving permanent imprints on its political, intellectual, social, and cultural landscape. Together, Parts I and II tell the story of entanglement, showing how the communist revolution, its containment, and issues of the national community, nation, empire, and imperialism became integrally connected in interwar Japan.
The nature of communist Russia presented a real conundrum for all figures active in Japanese politics, but the question of its geopolitical aspirations was particularly pressing to those engaged in policy making, discussed in Part I of this book. The question was greatly complicated by the fact that from the start, the new Bolshevik leadership exercised a double diplomacy. Leon Trotsky, as people’s commissar for foreign affairs, declared in November 1917: “I will issue a few revolutionary proclamations to the peoples of the world and then shut up shop.”6 To bring about a world revolution, the Soviet government created the Third Communist International (the Comintern) in March 1919. The Comintern quickly developed into a global organization, the first of its kind—with ideologically devoted members, seemingly bottomless funds (as well as arms), and military instructors experienced in the Russian Civil War, which allowed the organization to mount impressive operations. But as proletarian revolutions did not materialize in Europe, the Bolshevik leaders’ objective became to remain in power, even if it meant unleashing terror against their own people, including their own comrades. Preoccupied with the survival of the new regime, Soviet diplomacy strove for full acceptance internationally as a state equal to the world’s great powers. Consequently, it had to compromise its revolutionary message and dissociate the Soviet state from the radical Comintern. Nevertheless, even as the Soviet government conducted conventional diplomacy and signed treaties with capitalist countries, the Comintern continued to toil to destabilize those same countries until it was finally dissolved by Stalin in 1943.
The Bolsheviks’ new form of international diplomacy derived from its two chief goals: survival of the Soviet regime, and facilitation of the world proletarian revolution. They appealed to governments for establishment of normal diplomatic relations while trying to incite their citizens to initiate socialist revolutions at home. This dual foreign policy was soon expressed in the creation of mutually exclusive organizations: the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs (later Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and the Comintern. The former took steps to secure formal relations with foreign powers, trying to convince them that the Soviet Union was a normal diplomatic power—pragmatic, cynical, and not at all revolutionary—to secure Russia’s national interests. Meanwhile, in an effort to spread the worldwide revolution, the Comintern engaged in aggressive foreign propaganda and conducted an activist policy, most importantly in China, to create an impressive radical anti-imperialist and anti-Japanese network in East Asia ready to take power as opportunity might present. As such, during the 1920s, the Comintern presented the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a host of problems, not least as a result of the presence of uncontrollable Comintern agents within foreign missions and the negative impact on diplomacy of Soviet foreign propaganda. In East Asia, the Soviet government had to balance an impossible act: to intervene in China to advance a socialist revolution and yet to attempt a policy of rapprochement with the Japanese Empire to secure Russia’s borders and its interests on the Chinese Eastern Railway (CER). Few were fooled by the Soviet leaders’ insistence that the Comintern acted on its own and was an independent foreign organization. Japanese political and military leaders were often driven mad by the apparent contradiction between the conciliatory statements of Soviet diplomatic officials and the Comintern’s subversive actions in Japan, Korea, and China, monitored closely by Japanese intelligence. But it is important to realize that the distinction was there and used by both friends and foes of the Soviet state. Much of the Japanese attitude toward revolutionary Russia was determined by the way in which the relationship between the Soviet state and the Comintern was understood.
In assessing the “true” intentions of the new Bolshevik leadership in East Asia, there emerged essentially two approaches among key contributors to the debate over Japanese foreign policy and the need to contain Soviet encroachment. Importantly, these two approaches essentially mirrored the Soviet dual diplomacy.
The first view considered communist Russia as another state, perhaps less normal but nevertheless a state in its traditional meaning, whose foreign and domestic politics were determined by its unique geopolitical condition. Japanese policy makers argued that as a Eurasian superstate, the Soviet Union, like its predecessor imperial Russia, prioritized the security and integrity of its territories and inherited spheres of influence. While not downplaying the radicalism and danger of the communist ideology, the proponents of this view—such as Gotō Shinpei, Shidehara Kijūrō and even General Tanaka Gi’ichi—argued that the Soviet state’s objectives differed from the objectives of the Comintern. Throughout the 1920s, some party politicians, business leaders, and nongovernmental groups began to advocate rapprochement with the communist state, based on the convenient separation of the Soviet national state and the Comintern as an international revolutionary organization. These Japanese imperial policy makers were, in a way, cynical realists who regarded the Soviet state’s interests as selfish and imperialist, in the same way that imperial Russia’s had been. Consequently, the basic understanding behind the recognition of the USSR in 1925 was similar to that behind the Russo-Japanese rapprochement between 1907 and 1917, and the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact of 1941—that is, a deal could be made with the Russian communists for coexistence on the Asian continent, based on the division of spheres of influence.
The second approach held that the Soviet state was truly radical, and the sole purpose of its existence was to make the world “red.” Taking Trotsky’s declarations seriously, the proponents of this view—mainly officials of the Foreign Ministry (Motono Ichirō), conservative bureaucrats from the Home and Justice Ministries, liberal commentators (Yoshino Sakuzō and Fukuda Tokuzō), the army (Araki Sadao), and national socialists (Takabatake Motoyuki)—did not differentiate between the Soviet state and the Comintern. They considered the Comintern and communism to be the main ideological threat to Japan’s national polity. Concern over the effect of communist ideology on domestic society united such disparate groups as liberals and the conservative bureaucracy, the army, and rightist groups. They understood communism as fundamentally a foreign, alien “disease” against which the national community must be protected. Anxiety over the red menace led to heightened concern about the boundaries and foundations of the national community and the domestic suppression of any leftist (and later rightist) opposition, as well as the emergence of various political anticommunist imaginaries, from traditional monarchist to fascist. As this book argues, the emergence of the police state in Japan in the 1930s was not simply a consequence of the conservative push against new liberal and leftist programs, but the result of concerted efforts by liberals and conservatives alike, national socialists, and rightist groups to defend the nation from international communism by launching its own ideological revolution at home; and for some, by imperial expansion abroad.
The army’s attitude toward communist Russia combined these two approaches. Before and after the Russian Revolution of 1917, the army was consistent in regarding imperial Russia, and later the Soviet Union, as an existential threat to the security of the Japanese nation and its economic interests in China and Korea. For military leaders like Yamagata Aritomo and Araki Sadao, the very geopolitical situation of the Russian state—be it imperial or communist—its vital interests and dependence on the Asian continent, determined the Japanese army’s antagonistic attitude. The army’s anti-Russian sentiments became truly anticommunist and anti-Soviet once the revolution, with its anti-imperialist and anti-Japanese message, recruited to its cause Korean and Chinese national liberation and leftist fighters. The frontier Kwantung Army’s actions in Manchuria were justified by the defense of not only Japan but the whole of Asia and even the world (the first Soviet satellite state was, after all, the Mongolian People’s Republic) against Russian communist imperialism. The navy, however, did not share the army’s preoccupation with Soviet Russia, and at times even openly promoted pro-Soviet policies, to the army’s great agitation. The army’s anticommunism thus overlaid and combined with its old anxieties about the northern neighbor, dating back to the late nineteenth century, while exposing the disunity within the military in regard to the objectives of national defense policies.
These two approaches to understanding the Soviet state informed both developments: the domestic ideological changes, and Japan’s international political strategies. But I conclude that more often than not, domestic anticommunist policies had few repercussions for Japan’s foreign policy, which followed its own objectives. Even the army, the strongest anticommunist force in interwar Japan, was eventually forced to accept the geopolitical framework worked out between imperial Japan and imperial Russia before 1917, based on the division of spheres of influence in East Asia. This was maintained until 1945, with some modifications.
This book therefore complicates the commonly held assumption about anticommunism in imperial Japan. It often has been assumed that military and civilian policy makers alike were ideological anticommunists, and that their anticommunist convictions shaped Japan’s foreign policy during the interwar period. More often than not, Western historians have considered anticommunism in imperial Japan as a given, without questioning its internal and external origins, its evolution as Soviet state building progressed, and nuances in interpretation of the Russian Revolution and Soviet communism within Japanese political, military, and intellectual elites. This oversight, I believe, is partly due to the way in which Soviet-Japanese relations have been approached. Taking the ideological differences between communist Russia and imperial Japan as an established fact, scholars have paid much attention to the history of Soviet-Japanese military conflicts, and their diplomatic and ideological confrontation and rivalry, rather than to their cooperation and mutual interests in the region.7
Ultimately, Japan’s responses to the Russian Revolution were determined by geography and geopolitics, in which regional and global factors, as well as matters of national interest and security, determined Japanese policy makers’ relations with the Soviet state and communist ideology. In dealing with Russian communists, Japanese decision makers took into consideration multiple factors, in which the advantages of cooperation with the Soviet Union in order to ensure gains for their empire often outweighed any possible ideological loathing on their part. Confrontation could easily be changed to cooperation, and today’s foes could become tomorrow’s friends—especially if big money (fishery and oil) became involved, a common neighbor (China) suddenly ran amok, or a third power (the United States) claimed political and moral authority over the world order.
“The Russian Revolution was the biggest and most dramatic event in my life. Before, we often talked about a revolution, but we had no idea how to do it, how it would look, where it would happen. It was an imaginary thing, a fantasy… . At a labor union study meeting I even could not speak about the Revolution as tears overwhelmed me,” wrote Yamakawa Hitoshi, one of the main leaders of the Japanese communist movement, in his postwar memoir.8 Modern Japan had a significant and long-standing current of oppositional thinking and action well before the Russian Revolution. Notably, the People’s Rights Movement of the 1870s and 1880s, which protested the cliquism of the Meiji government and demanded political enfranchisement, was foundational to the emergence of socialist discourse in Japan. Since then, concerned with worsening social and economic problems, Japanese political activists had been seized by a passion for participating in national politics. The socialist movement, however, suffered a major blow when a group of anarchists-socialists was convicted of plotting to assassinate the Meiji emperor and executed in 1911, in what is known as the High Treason Incident. Only in 1917, with the Russian Revolution, did the Japanese opposition revive, and the revolution became a catalyst—moving it to another, more radical, level. Under its impact, socialism began to be seriously considered in Japan as a solution to economic problems and an alternative to capitalism. The revolution’s significance, however, also lay elsewhere. The Bolsheviks’ success provided a model for organization and tactics to achieve what Japanese nongovernment groups and activists had always sought: participation in national politics in order to improve social and economic conditions.
In Japan, there exists an enormous scholarship on the Japanese Left which, however, has tended to limit the story of Japanese radicalism to national history, rarely studying it until recently in the context of the empire and international politics, let alone in conjunction with the ideological and military penetration by Russian Bolsheviks into the region.9 In English-speaking scholarship, communism is still treated as marginal in comparison to the great significance attributed to the liberal-democratic and nationalist/fascist movements of the interwar period.10 To underscore the Bolsheviks’ massive impact on Japanese politics and society, the second part of this book focuses on early leftist discussions of the Russian Revolution taking place in the 1920s.11 I examine three main interpretations of the Russian Revolution offered by anarchists (Ōsugi Sakae and Takao Heibē), national socialists (Takabatake Motoyuki), and communists of the early JCP variety (Yamakawa Hitoshi). By bringing to light fierce debates among these three interpretations over the meanings and merits of the Russian Revolution—and socialism in general—in resolving economic, political, and social problems, I demonstrate how the interwar Left in Japan developed, broadened its horizons, and finally contributed to the shape that interwar society eventually took. My intention is to offer further nuance to the existing consensus that the failure of the Japanese Left to mount any meaningful resistance to the increasingly oppressive and militarized state was due to the power of the imperial state and the effectiveness of its police apparatus. While acknowledging the validity of this argument, my chief claim is that the battle, in fact, was lost first within the Left.
To underscore my claim, I shift attention from the relationship between the state—either Japanese or Soviet—and leftist movements to the early leftist internal intellectual debates vis-à-vis Soviet Russia. By examining early leftist discourses on the Russian Revolution, I demonstrate that despite leftists’ enthusiasm for the Russian Revolution and its supranational and anticapitalist vision, these discourses contained and were stymied by a simultaneous commitment to the nation and the national community. This conflation of Marxism and nationalism was, of course, a global post–World War I phenomenon, especially in those countries where socialism amalgamated with the goals of national independence and rapid modernization. By contrast, in interwar Japan, the main agenda of leftist groups and activists was the claim to political and social leadership in an imperial society. They sought to inaugurate a new politics to bring about social and moral regeneration, as well as economic and political justice. For these activists, the Russian Revolution was the inspiration and model for the organization of mass national politics, which was a new post–World War I phenomenon. They placed the utmost priority on politics—that is, on trying to bring the people (the masses) into politics and letting politics penetrate deep into social and cultural life. They considered themselves representatives of the will of the masses, whether workers or the Japanese people as a whole. Within the leftist debates over the supposedly internationalist Russian Revolution, therefore, the nation and national politics were a given premise and their main objective.
Finally, the Russian Revolution’s supranational vision became the crucible of Japanese socialism and forced Japanese radicals to confront and reformulate the relationships between internationalism, nation, and empire. Ultimately, in leftist discourse, supranational concerns often became dependent on and subordinate to national and imperial ones. I argue, however, that their initial doubts about the universalism of the Russian Revolution and the authority of Russian communists formed the main reason for Japanese socialists’ eventual rejection of communist internationalism. Their doubts, in turn, were based on the deeply rooted conviction of cultural, national, racial, and civilizational differences between Japan and Russia, and between Japan and the rest of Asia. One of the main claims of this book is that resistance to Soviet Russia and Soviet communism became such a dominant trope among leftist political intellectuals and activists that it overshadowed the awareness and urgency of challenging Japan’s own imperial project and growing nationalism. In the end, concern over Soviet communism and the Soviet state’s growing influence in East Asia led the majority of radicals to prioritize the nation and its interests above the immediate concerns of the international proletariat.
The question of when the Russian Revolution ended is important in understanding the revolution’s impact in Asia. Sheila Fitzpatrick, an authoritative historian of the Russian Revolution, argued that it ended in 1937–38 with the Great Stalinist Purges, while all its twists and turns—including the New Economic Policy in 1921, Lenin’s death and Stalin’s rise, the First Five-Year Plan and the “Cultural Revolution” in the late 1920s—were merely stages of a twenty-year process of revolution.12 In Part II, however, I argue that for Japan and its leftists, the Russian Revolution ended in 1928–29, because by that time, as revolutionary fervor was waning inside Russia as well, a consensus was reached about the meanings and merits of the Russian Revolution for modern Japan. The consensus was abrupt and forced, mainly because of Japan’s renewal of belligerence in China beginning in 1927. The subsequent leftist debates were less concerned with the Russian Revolution per se than with Japanese imperialism abroad and its repercussions within Japanese society.
I believe, however, that the way in which Japanese leftists approached their subsequent dilemmas—including the relationship with Stalinism and Chinese communism, the outbreak of war in China, and the rise of the military-bureaucratic regime at home (to name a few)—was determined by their initial reaction to the Russian Revolution. Ultimately, intense debates and disagreements vis-à-vis the Russian Revolution and Soviet communism about what type of revolution Japan needed, and how Japan was different from Russia and the rest of Asia, essentially prevented Japanese radicals from confronting critically their own assumptions and prejudices. In the 1930s, against the backdrop of economic depression, the escalating siege mentality, and the emergence of the military-bureaucratic regime, the anti-Bolshevik national Left was badly equipped to mount any meaningful opposition to the Japanese government and its military commitment to the imperial offensive on the Asian continent.
The amalgam of reactions to the Russian Revolution described in this book reveals Japan at a crossroads. There was no agreement, either among factions of the government, bureaucracy, and the military, or among members of socialist and rightist movements, about what to make of communism and Soviet Russia. Their discordance ultimately reflects the ideological and geopolitical uncertainties in which Japan found itself in the 1920s, lacking both a core programmatic vision for its society and national state, and a single, coherent policy of regional integration. The Russian Revolution thus heralded the emergence of alternative visions of what modern Japan ought to be.
. The first Korean socialist party was formed in Khabarovsk in 1919, and Korean communists dominated the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai, established in 1920. Communist parties were established in Persia, India, and Turkey in 1920; Palestine in 1922; and Vietnam, Malaya, Siam, Laos, and the Philippines in 1930.
. To clarify, Korean and Chinese activists obviously struggled against Japanese imperialism, while the Mongol national liberation struggle was directed against Republican China, the heir to the Qing Empire.
. Exceptions to this general trend were studies done by historians of Japanese- Russian relations: George Lensen, Japanese Recognition of the USSR (Tokyo: Sophia University, 1970); Joseph Ferguson, Japanese-Russian Relations, 1907–2007 (London: Routledge, 2008); and Peter Berton, Russo-Japanese Relations, 1905–1917: From Enemies to Allies (London: Routledge, 2012; originally published as a PhD dissertation, “The Secret Russo-Japanese Alliance of 1916,” Michigan University, 1956). In Japanese scholarship imperial Russia and the Soviet Union have occupied much more prominent positions. See, for example, Yoshimura Michio, Nihon to Roshia: Nichiro sengo kara Roshia kakumei made (Tokyo: Hara Shobō, 1968); Tomita Takeshi, Senkanki no Nisso kankei: 1917–1937 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2010); and recently Asada Masafumi, Nichiro kindaishi: Sensō to heiwa no hyakunen (Tokyo: Kodansha, 2018). In Russian, see especially Petr Podalko, Iaponiia v sud'bakh rossiian: Ocherki istorii tsarskoi diplomatii i rossiiskoi diaspory v Iaponii (Moscow: Institut vostokovedeniia Rossiiskoi akademii nauk, 2004); and Vasilii Molodiakov, Rossiia i Iaponiia: V poiskakh soglasiia, 1905–1945 (Moscow: AIRO, 2012).
. Akira Iriye’s book, After Imperialism, is an exception in singling out the importance of the Soviet moment in East Asia, but it deals more with international politics. See Akira Iriye, After Imperialism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965). Soviet scholarship on the impact of communism in interwar Japan was overtly ideological, while contemporary Russian scholarship on Japan has not yet addressed this topic, largely due to the present general confusion in Russia about how to approach the Soviet past historically.
. I did not venture into exploring the relationship between the state and communist organizations in the 1930s; neither did I incorporate the Japanese Marxist debate of the 1930s on Japanese capitalism (Nihon shihonshugi ronsō) put forward by the two major Marxist schools, the Kōza-ha (Lectures Faction) and the Rōnō-ha (Worker-Farmer Faction). For that, see Germaine Hoston, Marxism and the Crisis of Development in Prewar Japan (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986). Neither did I engage extensively with Japanese communist sojourners’ experiences within the Soviet Union, and their often tragic lives during the height of the Stalinist terror. For the latter issue, see Katō Tetsurō, Mosukuwa de shukuseisareta Nihonjin: 30-nendai Kyōsantō to Kunisaki Teidō, Yamamoto Kenzō no higeki (Tokyo: Aoki Shoten, 1994).