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Carl Davis

Japan: Not a Mysterious Land at All

(November 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 45, 6 November 1944, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

When Hitler came to power in Germany and set up the fascist state, many people thought that a new social order had come to Germany. The capitalists, so it was said, were now curbed and completely under the control of the Nazi regime. The market was ended, profits were wiped out, production was carried on in the interests of the state. But when the facts about German economy leaked out and the whole story of Hitler’s rise to power became known, it was clear that what happened in. Germany was something altogether different from what many thought.

It became clear that the revolutionary socialists, the Marxists, were right: fascism was not a new social order, but a new type of political rule of capitalism, arising on the basis of a severe social crisis in the country, the aim of which was to save capitalism and the profit system under the domination of the big monopolies and trusts.

In addition to that, it is now known that the forces behind Hitler, those who gave him financial, moral and physical support, were the German capitalists, the steel, iron, coal and chemical producers. Hitler had carried out their program of preparation for war in order to gain for Germany what other capitalist nations had: markets, raw materials, land for expansion, etc. The aims of German capitalism are essentially the same as those of all other capitalist countries.

But in the case of Japan, many legends were built up during the course of the war. Some of them would have you believe that Japan is a backward, uncivilised country, inhabited by “monkey-people.” It never occurs to the paid propagandists who write these things of Japan that they do not square with the tremendous military forces of that country which could never have bean built up without a highly developed industry and skilled labor. No, Japan is an advanced capitalist country, even though it has many strange traditions to those who live in the Western world. Japan just happened to have developed her capitalism later than other countries and, in order to expand, she, too, went to war against those countries to take what they had taken long ago.

This fact was given prominence in one of Drew Pearson’s columns of recent date. Pearson spoke of the conflict between the military and the industrialists, likening it to the struggle between the Army and Navy with the WPB in this country. Says Pearson:

“Three months before Pearl Harbor, Japan formed the ‘New Economic Structure.’ Most foreigners thought this a plan for military rule over business. It was the reverse!
“NES, created September 1, 1941, worked well during the easy victories at Pearl Harbor and thereafter. But when Japan began to lose in the Solomons in the fall of 1942 and as shipping was decimated by our subs, the Jap economic structure buckled ... Tojo ... demanded powers to deal with the crisis. The cartels resisted ... He was so slow getting control of industry, his methods were resented by the ‘National Socialists’ and left wing of his military-fascists. Some, headed by Seigo Nakano, urged nationalization of all industry.
“Tojo made a new attempt to strengthen his grip on. economy. Calling a special Diet session, he formed a Munitions Ministry, headed it, placed all war production under it. But Tojo’s power didn’t last long. Big business moved in and forced business men into the cabinet. They cancelled the Army’s Industrial power ... Premier Koiso, who replaced him, played with the cartels. Business took over all Army, Navy arsenals.”

Look behind the mask of propaganda and lies that are told in this war and you will find, no matter what the country, that this is a gigantic struggle between the capitalist powers for land, raw material, markets, cheap labor, in a word, for PROFITS!

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