Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact

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Tokyo Trials shroud Communist warmongering

By Kobori Keiichiro,

KOBORI Keiichiro
Professor Emeritus, Tokyo University
I. Taboo expressions in Uzawa Somei’s closing argument
I would like to begin with an anecdote that symbolizes the subtleties in the title of this essay in an accessible manner. The occasion was the closing argument presented by Dr. Uzawa Somei, chief defense counsel at the Tokyo Trials, in which I detect an inexplicable timidity or reticence with regard to Communism. This was perhaps a reflection of the climate that prevailed at the tribunal. In any case, that mentality surfaced in some bizarre, unnatural turns of phrase, as I shall demonstrate.
The Tokyo Trials (formally, the IMTFE or International Military Tribunal for the Far East) commenced on May 3, 1946 with the reading of the indictments. On June 13 the prosecution began presenting evidence to support the indictments, a process that continued until January 24, 1947 (169 sessions). On February 24, after a one-month recess, the defense attorneys began presenting rebuttal evidence of a general nature. That phase ended on September 10 (after 103 sessions), and was followed by the presentation of evidence relating to individual defendants. The defense rested its case on January 12, 1948. Immediately thereafter the prosecution presented its rebuttal evidence, until January 30, when the defense countered with its rebuttal evidence, until February 10.
The prosecution’s summation began on February 11, lasting until March 2, when the defense presented its closing arguments. All the court proceedings were finished by April 15. After a recess of nearly six months the court reconvened on November 4, 1947, at which time the reading of the voluminous judgments commenced. Sentences were pronounced on November 12.
The focus of this essay — chief defense counsel Dr. Uzawa Somei’s closing argument —was the first summation read on the afternoon of March 2, 1948 (the 384th session of the tribunal). His argument had been prepared well in advance, translated into English in its entirety, and distributed to each of the judges. Uzawa needed only read it aloud in Japanese in the courtroom, a process that would have taken about an hour. In fact, the argument was an excerpt from an essay in his scholarly treatise Jurisprudence entitled “On Crafting Laws That Will Bring About World Peace from the Reality of the Battlefield of Life.”1 This particular work is part of Uzawa’s scholarly oeuvre and thus is his independent scholarship from beginning to end. It differs in nature from Kiyose Ichiro’s distinguished opening statement (which contains language deemed inflammatory by the court). In fact, not only was Kiyose not permitted to read it in the courtroom, the statement was also expunged from the tribunal transcript. That opening statement reflects
1 Uzawa Somei, Horitsu tetsugaku (Jurisprudence) (Tokyo: Meiji University, 1954).
a consensus reached after the defense attorneys had been polled for their opinions; Uzawa’s summation does not. Uzawa’s argument is a lofty jurisprudential argument, formed from a vast storehouse of knowledge of things Eastern and Western in the possession of a revered scholar of the Yi Jing (I Ching) and Laozi (Lao Tzu). None of Uzawa’s colleagues on the defense team had the intellectual wherewithal to offer an opinion on such exalted work.
Therefore Uzawa’s argument was not intended to dispute the charges against individual defendants. Rather, it bore witness to the character of the defendants as a group. In terms of the value system prevailing at the time, it was a defense not of individuals, but of the nation of Japan. In simpler terms, the defendants had dedicated themselves to the Kingly Way (as prescribed by Mencius), as I shall demonstrate. They therefore could not possibly have conspired to wage an aggressive war that contravenes the laws of civilization, as the prosecution charged. Some might think that this approach — the presentation of evidence relating to the character of the defendants — might lie outside the purview of individual defense, but that is not the case. The defendants, arrested as a group, were a state institution of Japan; the character and breeding of the defendants was that of the entity that was their nation, or the national character. What Uzawa argued and advocated were thoughts and deeds rooted in the principles of a time-honored culture that valued forbearance and tolerance, as opposed to the Western nations, which espoused rule by might.
However, it is extremely likely that only one of the judges, Radhabinod Pal, who represented India, was able to comprehend Uzawa’s elevated argument about jurisprudence. And sad as it may seem, it is equally unlikely that Uzawa’s final argument had even a minimal effect on the judgments. It is true that of the judges, only Pal was capable of understanding the argument. But more important, the other judges were not interested in hearing what he said, and therefore did not listen to him.
To return to the theme of this paper, the first part of Uzawa’s closing argument contains the following passage:
The spirit and reality of the American and French revolutions profoundly affected the Meiji Restoration in Japan. Again Japan could not and can not stand aloof from the impact of the new revolutionary movements which have been sweeping the western nations in the past few decades. The eruptive stages leading up to the French Revolution was described by Thomas Carlyle very masterly, but its scale was not big enough to depict the succeeding stages of revolutionary changes in the world which developed into World War II.
This is not the most lucid of passages, and portions of it are even somewhat abstruse. I would like to take the liberty of providing an explication. I would translate “Japan could not and cannot stand aloof from the impact of the new revolutionary movements” as “Japan could not and cannot stand aloof from the Russian Revolution.” Similarly, further along in the passage, “revolutionary changes in the world” most certainly refers to the Russian Revolution. I am reasonably sure that what Uzawa meant when referring to
“revolutionary changes in the world” was that Carlyle’s sober historical narrative style could not fully describe the savagery of the events of the Russian Revolution or the magnitude of its impact on the world. In other words, we cannot help but be fascinated by Uzawa’s failure to mention Russia or the Soviet Union by name, and his depiction of the communist revolution as “revolutionary changes in the world.”
Moving on a bit further in this passage, we have the following:
I will not take the trouble to enumerate each and every event. However, I do not believe that we can arrive at the truth unless we contemplate the various court cases to which the prosecution referred during these proceedings compared with the tendency toward revolutionary changes in the world.
This particular section appears in Jurisprudence, but not in the IMTFE transcript. It is safe to assume that the omission was intentional. Uzawa’s point was that many of the cases cited by the prosecution in its condemnation of Japan could not be comprehended accurately without an understanding of the effects of the trends set in motion by the communist revolution that gave birth to the Soviet Union. Accordingly, it is highly likely that Uzawa resorted to euphemism (or omission) either out of political consideration for the prosecutor and judge representing the USSR. It is also possible that he was affected by the atmosphere of constraint that reigned in the courtroom, or felt compelled to conform to it.
II. IMTFE proceedings marked by subterfuge and concealment
Though solicitude for the USSR dominated in the courtroom, the Japanese defense attorneys did not necessarily feel restricted by nameless, implicit pressure, but by linguistic restrictions imposed by court declaration. The defense team was therefore compelled to be exceedingly prudent with regard to the language they used under peril of colliding with that bizarre restraining force, and then losing their freedom of expression.
The defense attorneys were forced to use that restraint, in a tangible manner, soon after the defense rebuttals commenced on February 24, 1947. The defense rebuttals were conducted in three stages: general matters, wartime diplomacy (for each nation involved), and rebuttals concerning individual defendants. It became very clear in the second stage of the rebuttals, wartime diplomacy, when the following two subjects were broached: (1) Japanese diplomacy with China in the prelude to the Second Sino-Japanese War, and (2) Japanese diplomacy with the USSR following Japan’s conclusion of the Anti-Comintern Pact with Germany.
Prior to the outbreak of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, Japanese legations in Beijing, Shanghai, Hankou, Guangdong and other Chinese cities transmitted the graphic details of Communist-instigated anti-Japanese campaigns in China and their effects (violent acts against the property and lives of Japanese nationals) as they occurred, via encoded telegrams transmitted to the Foreign Minister. As one might expect, those telegraphic
reports were kept on file at the Foreign Ministry, and were submitted to the IMTFE as exhibits for the defense. Nevertheless, almost all the numerous reports on the anti-Japanese movement were rejected by the court on the grounds that they did not constitute a defense for the dispatching of troops to defend Japanese interests in China. In other words, they were irrelevant. Specifically, of 74 reports from Japanese legations documenting damage inflicted by the anti-Japanese movement submitted, the court admitted only seven. The rest were rejected or withdrawn because of their similarity to the rejected documents.
If I were to mention a few of the noteworthy documents rejected, it would be the following three. The first is a group of statistical reports bearing titles such as “Major Incidents of Sedition” (10 incidents), “Economic Blockade Against Japan,” and “Anti-Japanese Aspects of Education in China” from Guide to Political and Economic Relations Between Japan and China, compiled by the Osaka Chamber of Commerce. The second is a report concerning British and American activities intended to fuel anti-Japanese sentiment among the Chinese; it was sent by Obata Yukichi, Japanese ambassador to China in Beijing to Foreign Minister Uchida Kosai in 1919. The third is “Atrocities Committed by Nationalist Northern Expedition Troops During the Battle of Nanjing,” an article that appeared in the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun in March 1927.
All these documents are excellent resources that describe the plots and conspiracies devised by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party). They also tell the story of the hardships and purposefulness of our ancestors, and trace the efforts expended by the Japanese to prevent the spread of Communist ideology. But the IMTFE admitted exactly one of 75 defense exhibits pertaining to the CCP into evidence.
Among the rejected documents were long excerpts from The Communist Movement in China and Manchuria, “The Communist Labor Movement,” and “Soviet Communist Party Activity in Manchuria,” all issued in 1932 by the Foreign Ministry’s Asia Bureau. Another report published in 1932 was History of the Communist Party, compiled by the Foreign Ministry’s Information Bureau. A chapter from Edgar Snow’s Red Star over China entitled “Basic Communist Policies” was rejected as well.2
Looking only at the number of exhibits rejected and their titles, one would be tempted to indicate a curious generosity, even timidity with respect to CCP conspiracies on the part of the court. But when the subject of diplomacy with the Soviet Union was broached, such consideration was even more patently obvious.
During that phase, topics to be addressed included the Anti-Comintern Pact, the Zhanggufeng Incident, the armed conflict between Japanese and Soviet troops at Nomonhan, Japanese armament against the USSR, and the Japanese-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. However the atmosphere of solicitude for Communism that reigned in the courtroom thwarted the defense team’s efforts to submit documentary evidence. On May 16, 1947, when evidence relating to Japanese diplomacy with the USSR was first
2 Edgar Snow, Red Star over China (London: V. Gollancz, 1937), pp. 97-105.
mentioned, William Webb, the tribunal’s president, went on record by proclaiming that Communist movements in Europe had no connection with the Far East. Webb seemed to be saying, “We have neither the authority nor the obligation to hand down a verdict concerning Communist principles in various parts of the world.” This was the president’s personal opinion, but it was interpreted as a premise that Webb had embraced for the purposes of the trial. Because 13 of the 21 probative documents did not accord with this prerequisite rule, in other words, because they were critical of Communist ideology, they were rejected.
There is an interesting episode associated with the reading of the defense opening statement concerning diplomacy with the USSR on that same day by attorney Aristides Lazarus. He was about to mention that at the Council of Foreign Ministers held in the spring of that year (1947), it was clear that there were differences of opinion between the US and the USSR (in other words, there were signs that the Cold War was about to begin). When Lazarus began to read the portion of the opening statement that argued that the Communist movement in Europe and the outbreak of a Communist threat in Asia were valid justifications for the Anti-Comintern Pact, the president of the tribunal (supposedly at the behest of one of the judges) suddenly told him to stop reading and ordered a recess. The proceedings resumed after 20 minutes. Then, when the defense argument stated that Japan had made a choice, refusing to enter into a non-aggression pact proposed by the USSR, thus demonstrating foresight in avoiding the repetition of mistakes made by the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), Poland and Finland, another objection was raised and Lazarus was forced to stop once again. It was then that Webb declared that the IMTFE had no right to judge Communist ideology. The one saving grace was that Lazarus was able to read his statement in its entirety.
Ultimately, thanks to Lazarus’ courage, we were able to obtain precious testimony at the Tokyo Trials, i.e., the world’s recognition of the danger of Communism and Communist thought, and the historical causality between the CCP’s explicit declaration of war against Japan (the August 1 Declaration) issued on August 1, 1935 and Japan’s rightful resolve to combat the threat posed by the spread of Communism to ensure its survival.
But this same testimony — this historical connection — though presented to the tribunal and admitted as evidence, has been willfully undervalued or even ignored by postwar Japanese historians. Defense counsel William Logan delivered the opening statement for the general phase on February 25, three months prior to Lazarus’ argument. Logan was not permitted to read the portion stating that he would be submitting evidence relating to the Russian invasion of Finland, Russia’s expulsion from the League of Nations, Russia’s invasion of the Baltic states, Russia’s invasion of Manchuria, and the British and Russian occupation of Iran. The IMTFE rejected the evidence Logan announced he would be presenting.
For that very reason the portion of Lazarus’ argument to which I referred, in which he denounces the USSR, must be cherished because it somehow managed to survive as court testimony. Historians who keep silent about this matter are panderers who hide behind the majority judgments handed down by the IMTFE. And to make matters worse, these
Soviet and Communist sympathizers still maintain the same attitude today, more than 60 years after the Tokyo Trials.
Did Aristides Lazarus, who had attained the rank of first lieutenant in the US Marine Corps, have strong moral principles? It is true that the president of the tribunal and the prosecution team, impressed by his resolve, allowed Lazarus to read his anti-Communist statement in its entirety. However, that same Lazarus, in an opening statement for the China phase on April 22, three weeks earlier, was forbidden to read the end of the Subdivision II statement entitled “Activities of Chinese Communists and the Anti-Japanese Movement.” That portion of the statement was removed from the transcript. When we examine the excised portion, brought back to life in The Tokyo Trials: The Unheard Defense, we can read between the lines and discover exactly what historical terminology was taboo at the IMTFE. The last portion Lazarus was permitted to read begins as follows:
As already stated, the Chinese Communist Party was constituted under the direction of the Comintern and was in such an organic relation as to be directed by the latter. The nature and scope of these directions will be revealed by evidence.
It will be shown that Japan had reason to fear, and in fact did fear, that the spread of Communism in China, and then in Japan itself meant Japan’s destruction.
I find it surprising that the court allowed Lazarus to read even that much. What followed it, however, he was not permitted to read, and it too was deleted from the transcript.
One look at the map today will show what has happened to Russia’s neighbors and former neighbors both in Europe and in Asia. The clinching evidence in support of Japan’s rightful fear of the spread of Communism is President Truman’s address to the United States Congress last month on that subject and the desperate measures he recommended to stop its spread.
In this warning is the recognition of a perceived threat from China and the USSR, which had already influenced the conclusion of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, initiated by the US, and later the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between Japan and the US. The text that follows “One look at the map” makes its point simply and directly; it should be the view that forms the foundation of our current perception of China. The warning bell that sounded more than 60 years ago at the Tokyo Trials has, unfortunately, been forgotten by far too many Japanese engaged in debates over current perceptions of China.
III. Taboos negate probative strength of My Twenty-five Years in China
I would like to cite another historical resource that was rejected by the court, despite strenuous efforts on the part of the defense counsel to get passages from it admitted as evidence. It is a memoir written by John B. Powell, an American journalist who co-founded the China Weekly Review, and entitled My Twenty-five Years in China; the
relevant sections of it deal with the anti-Japanese movement masterminded by the CCP.3
Another book that could have provided useful testimony but, like Powell’s memoirs, was rejected by the IMTFE, is Twilight in the Forbidden City by Reginald F. Johnston.4 Fortunately, both books have been translated into Japanese and are available to anyone who wishes to read them. Powell’s memoir is marred by its anti-Japanese slant, and will therefore make unpleasant reading for anyone Japanese, including its Japanese translator, who found it extremely repellent. Powell appeared before the tribunal on August 5 and 6, 1946 as a witness for the prosecution; he gave testimony that benefited the prosecution and hurt the defendants’ cases (he stated that the Japanese Army had invaded Manchuria). The defense had high hopes that the passages from his book would be admitted precisely because it was so virulently anti-Japanese and because it would be perceived as the objective valuations of a Westerner. In it Powell describes Sino-Soviet relations before and after the Xian Incident, Zhang Xueliang’s close ties with the CCP, the CCP’s role in fanning the flames of the anti-Japanese movement in North China, and other topics of interest.
The defense team must have thought that since My Twenty-five Years in China was written in English, IMTFE prosecutors and judges could read it without difficulty. Through it, they would become acquainted with the situation in China, in particular the Nationalist government’s political organization; and the CCP’s adroit, nefarious strategy designed to manipulate that government into provoking war with Japan. They thought that it had sufficient probative force to convince readers that the action Japan took to combat the problem were justified.
In addition to descriptions of the CCP’s anti-Japanese stratagems, also excerpted for defense purposes were passages that dealt with diplomatic relations between Japan and China, Soviet intelligence activity in China, the Battle of Shanghai (1937), and MacArthur’s strategy against the Japanese in the Philippines. The number of excerpts amounted to about 40 (depending on how one counts), but half of them were rejected by the tribunal. The remainder were not submitted, since the defense attorneys assumed that they would be rejected for the same reasons.
Among the reasons given for their rejection in such quick succession were: (1) they were merely the personal opinions of one newspaper reporter and therefore had no probative force, and (2) they were the product of the author’s imagination. In some cases rejections were the result of on-the-spot, unilateral decisions of the chief justice, William Webb; others represented a majority vote by the prosecution team. One of the reasons given by representatives of two of the prosecuting nations was distasteful rhetoric in Powell’s writing. Needless to say, the two nations objecting were China and the USSR. The fact
3 John B. Powell, My Twenty-five Years in China (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1945).
4 Reginald F. Johnston, Twilight in the Forbidden City (Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources, 1973).
that the objections of a few prosecutors to “distasteful rhetoric” constituted grounds for rejection by the tribunal lays open the abysmal legal standard of this tribunal for all the world to see.
But that was the reality of the tribunal. The impression that any reference to the dangers of communist ideology or the conspiracies of the Communist Party was taboo cast a dark shadow on the minds of the entire Japanese defense team. This explains Dr. Uzawa’s use of “revolutionary changes in the world,” which was in retrospect a rather odd turn of phrase. But the attorneys must have sensed the irony in the linguistic acrobatics they had to perform to ensure that their statements could be read in court; it was an expedient they were forced to use.
The real reasons for Johnston’s and Powell’s books’ being rejected as evidence were two: (1) if they had been admitted as defense evidence, the tribunal’s objective — finding Japan guilty at all costs — would not have been achieved; and (2) they would have revealed the truth about the Comintern’s conspiracies to provoke war.
IV. Cover-up continues through postwar era
Thus one function of the IMTFE, the main institution in the Far East determining responsibility for World War II, was protecting the USSR and the CCP, and concealing their roles in provoking war with Japan. Incidentally, another major war crime that the IMTFE rendered taboo and suppressed criticism of was the dropping of atomic bombs by the US government on Japan — a clear case of indiscriminate, mass murder. I will say no more about this subject here, since it is not within the purview of this paper.
If I were to speak of another crime — the invasion of neighboring nations by Communist forces — I would say that the Tokyo Trials accomplished (or came very close to accomplishing) another goal. That is the creation of a legal fiction, a means for concealing the crimes of two nations: the USSR, which became an ally of the US with the signing of the Yalta Agreement (though very temporarily); and the Republic Of China, then in a state of chaotic anarchy, the perfect excuse for American left-wing intellectuals to call for ideological “justice” (i.e., side with the Chinese against the Japanese).
While the Allied nations swept aside every single one of their war crimes, none of them ever felt even a twinge of guilt regarding the unprecedented, unhappy fate of the Japanese Empire, saddled with the total responsibility for the devastation of the Pacific War. Only a handful of nations shared Japan’s indignation at this eventuality, and all were former colonies of the Western powers, themselves still powerless, swept aside by the maelstrom of world history.
It was easy for the US, the driving force behind the Tokyo Trials, to render the Japanese people blind, deaf and mute to this irrationality. The very promulgator of the International Military Tribune for the Far East, Douglas MacArthur, was the holder of the highest political authority in Japan, authority exceeding that of both the Japanese government and the Emperor. Some of his occupation policies may have been patent
violations of international law in time of war, and his government may have constituted despotism of the most unforgiveable, inhumane sort in light of universal moral standards. But the Japanese had been robbed of the freedoms of speech and expression that might have enabled them to disclose their revelations and issue protests. And with no revelations nor protests, there of course were no such crimes or atrocities.
To cite a specific example relevant to the topic of this paper, on September 29, 1945, the publications and communications of all of Japan’s media became subject to unilateral regulations imposed by the Occupation forces, i.e., censorship. The censorship guidelines eventually covered 30 items. The first item, referring to published material (material that could be expunged or refused publication), was criticism of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers or of the GHQ (General Headquarters). The second was criticism of the IMTFE.
At that point, it was easy to guess what would follow. Therefore, at the IMTFE warmongering on the part of Communist forces in the USSR and China was deliberately covered up or concealed by the profligate rejection of evidence or the refusal to allow affidavits to be read aloud. No one was permitted to refer to those acts of provocation until the Occupation ended. Therefore, for all intents and purposes, the Communists had never provoked war. The cover-up itself, like all criticism of GHQ policies during the six years and eight months of Occupation (although the regulations were relaxed to some extent during the latter part of the Occupation, especially after the outbreak of the Korean War), was relegated to oblivion. It became fixed in the minds of the Japanese people at some point, and then became subject to a sort of voluntary censorship and a media taboo. Even today, more than 60 years after Japan was restored to independent nation status, the scars of that taboo are still visible. In other words, we were living in an environment that prevented us from expressing anger at or hatred of the evils perpetrated by Communist ideology. That environment has for the most part been dispelled, but for certain reasons, one still senses its lingering presence in certain parts of academia.
V. Belated awakening
The blunder made by the IMTFE in concealing Communist provocation of war, came to the attention of the international community in a surprising way. The mechanism was MacArthur’s testimony at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 3, 1951.
A sharp difference of opinion had emerged between MacArthur and then President Harry Truman over the handling of the Korean War. The sharp turn in the fate of an iconic military man, MacArthur, who had once wielded power in Japan mightier than the government or even the Emperor, was summarily removed from his post, and recalled to the US, will be remembered by every Japanese alive then.
That on the first day of the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, MacArthur stated resolutely when asked why Japan commenced hostilities in the Pacific War, “Their purpose, therefore, in going to war, was largely dictated by security” is widely
remembered in Japan, even today. The gist of MacArthur’s self-defense argument had already been stated at the Tokyo Trials, both by Gen. Tojo Hideki in his eloquent affidavit intended to counter Chief Prosecutor Joseph Keenan’s charges, and in William Logan’s closing argument, in which he said that Japan was provoked into a war of self-defense. This did not come as a surprise to IMTFE scholars who have taken the trouble to examine rejected defense evidence. But they were certainly deeply moved when the person with chief responsibility for the IMTFE and for its promulgation finally made a statement at a solemn public venue to the effect that the IMTFE was a failure.
However, for the purposes of this paper, more important than MacArthur’s support of Japanese acts in its own defense is part of the general’s response to a question posed on the same day by Richard B. Russell, chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee:
It is my own personal opinion that the greatest political mistake we made in a hundred years in the Pacific, was in allowing the Communists to grow
in power in China.5
This statement expressed the deep remorse an arrogant military hero must have felt when faced with his past ignorance the moment the Korean War began with the KPA’s (North Korean People’s Army) crossing the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950. The sentiment expressed should not be perceived as original thought on his part, however. MacArthur must certainly have been warned about tolerance for Communists and their machinations in the US by George Kennan, head of the Policy Planning Staff, when he visited MacArthur on an inspection tour of Japan. Furthermore, Helen Mears, author of Mirror for Americans, Japan too indicated that combating the threat of communism was a more important mission for Japan in the past then it was for present-day US.6 At the time, MacArthur was angered by Mears’ exhortations to the US to reexamine its past conduct, and would not permit the book to be translated into Japanese. But before the Occupation had ended, he was agreeing with Mears and stating as much at a public venue.
Remorse for the US’ greatest diplomatic mistake as indicated by MacArthur, standing silently by while Communism spread throughout Asia, necessarily includes remorse for having allowed the IMTFE to pass over Communist provocation of war without examination, even to conceal that provocation. Doesn’t it behoove us to say to the Americans, “Your awakening came too late. Can’t you see that the tragedy of a nation broken asunder on the Korean peninsula is the result of your failure to understand Japan’s desperate efforts to prevent the spread of Communism?” But do we have the right to condemn the Americans for their slow-wittedness?
Censorship and confiscation were clever methods used by GHQ used to suppress and
5 Richard H. Rovere and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., General MacArthur and President Truman: The Struggle for Control of American Foreign Policy (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1992), p. 191.
6 Helen Mears, Mirror for Americans, Japan (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1948).
control speech and expression during the postwar era. However, there were books in the libraries of individuals that escaped the censors’ watchful eyes. Those works contained useful information: the penetrating insight of George Kennan, the prophesies of former US ambassador to China John V. MacMurray, as well as Helen Mears’ deeply insightful contemplation. But because they were hidden, most of the Japanese population was ignorant of their existence until writers emerged who could make use of them, and describe the role of Communist ideology and thought wars in the making of Showa era history. One of those works was War and Communism by Mitamura Takeo; it was published in 1950, shortly before the Korean War broke out.
In 1950 GHQ’s censorship system was not as strict as when it was first implemented. However, since there were a good number of American Communists working for GHQ, Mitamura’s book got caught up in the censorship web, and was taken off the market. Only a few copies were in circulation at that point. Even after the peace treaty was signed, signaling the end of the Occupation, and Japan once again enjoyed freedom of expression, War and Communism was not republished immediately, probably because the media’s self-imposed restrictions were still at work. Therefore I suppose we would be remiss to condemn the Americans for their delayed awakening to the perils of Communism.
Mitamura’s book did not appear until 1987, when it was issued as part of the Jiyu Sensho series. By then it had a new title, Pacific War and Stalin’s Intrigue. At the back of the new edition are brief essays supplied (for the 1950 publication) by 10 intellectuals and politicians. Some of them are simply dutiful compliments; others express genuine surprise, and still others are creditable reviews of Mitamura’s writing. The book is worth reading for these essays alone. However, the problem here is the fact that during the 37 years between 1950, when the book was censored, and 1987, when it was reprinted, the book’s warnings never reached the ears of Japan’s intellectuals. Thus the prevailing atmosphere of what is referred to as the Tokyo Trials historical perception, one of the aftereffects of the IMTFE, made it possible for the tribunal to conceal Communist warmongering, and very effectively so.
In the preface to Pacific War and Stalin’s Intrigue, Mitamura writes the following:
I do not insist that those who were duped by Communist warmongering conspiracies, or who willingly cooperated with the Communists, acknowledge their roles. But if they say, “I didn’t know” or “I did not agree,” then they are only revealing their ignorance and lack of principles. [Italics supplied.]
Beginning with the August 1 Declaration in 1935, the CCP’s war against Japan has a long history. During that time, the Communists have resorted to a wide variety of tactics, and assumed many disguises, but their war against Japan continues relentlessly. And as long as there are Japanese who are willing to humor them (or are too ignorant to know better), Mitamura’s warning will not lose one iota of its relevance. In closing, I would like to warn those responsible for our state affairs that that sort of ignorance and impotence are evils of the worst sort.
Kobori Keiichiro was born in Tokyo in 1933. A graduate of Tokyo University, he taught at his alma mater and at the Humanities Faculty of Meisei University. Professor Kobori’s specialties are comparative culture and the history of Japanese thought. Among his many publications are The Early Days of Mori Ogai (recipient of the Yomiuri Prize for Literature), Prime Minister Suzuki Kantaro (recipient of the Oya Soichi Nonfiction Award), Farewell to the Tokyo Trials Historical Perception, and The Japanese Spirit in Waka Poetry.