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This is people under communism a series of documentaries interviews and talks based upon documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intentions of the Soviet Union. The series is presented transcribed by the National Association of educational broadcasters in consultation with scholars from the Russian Research Center at Harvard University. The Russian Institute of Columbia University and the Hoover Institute and library at Stanford University. Once again we're to hear Dr. Harold H Fisher chairman of the Hoover Institute and library as he speaks on communism in Japan. Dr. Fisher is the author of numerous books and articles on the Soviet Union. He served with the American really good ministration in Russia has traveled extensively in Asia and is a scholar on Soviet policy in the Far East. Dr. Fischer will be joined a bit later in the program by his special guest and colleague from the Hoover Institute. Dr. Noble talking EK Dr. Ek is
author of the beginnings of political democracy in Japan. Now Dr. Fischer and communism in Japan. In the Pacific the United States has joined other free nations in building a security system against possible future aggression by communist governments. The pillars of that Pacific security system are for treaties one pillar is a mutual defense treaty between the United States and the Philippines. Another is a security treaty between Australia New Zealand and the United States but two of the four pillars of the security system are treaties with Japan. A peace treaty and a security treaty and these are supplemented by an administrative agreement under which the United States is authorized to keep military forces in Japan and on the Ryukyu Islands. Japan is therefore a vital part of this security system and Japan is exposed to the forces of communism from without and within the threat from
without comes from communist rule Russia Communist rule China and have communist rule Korea. Who are Japan's nearest neighbors. The internal menace is economic and political. Japan is a small country in natural resources overpopulated and the pendent upon foreign trade. Japan has a Communist Party that in 1949 polled 3 million votes and elected 35 representatives to the national parliament. These circumstances raise certain questions of great importance to the American people and to the Japanese people and other peoples in the free world. One series of questions is how strong are the Japanese communists. Are they getting stronger. And what are the sources of their strength. Another serious concern is what the Japanese people think about their relations with their near neighbors Russia and China. Would it be to Japan's advantage to have diplomatic and create relations with these neighbors. And another question is this how do
American policies affect the external and internal communist threats to Japan. My colleague in the Hoover Institute at Stanford professor noble talker EK and I are going to discuss some of these matters. Professor E.K. is the author of the beginnings of political democracy in Japan and of many articles on the political and social history and institutions of contemporary Japan. But before you and I began to take up these questions I should like to mention some of the fundamentals that have a bearing upon Japan's present situation. Japan as I'm sure you know consists of four large islands and hundreds of smaller islands. The total area however is only about one half the size of Texas. But this area contains a rapidly increasing population ten times greater than that of Texas. Three quarters of this area is mountainous or rugged and one quarter of Japan's 85 million people live in these rugged lands
while the other three fourths are crowded into the relatively level area which unfortunately is smaller than the state of Maine. Almost half the families of Japan live by farming. But the average Hill area per family is less than three acres as compared with one hundred fifty five acres in the United States. Your parents are hardworking and skillful farmers by the best today can do can produce only 80 percent of what the country needs in the way of food. The other 20 percent must be imported and these imports must be paid for by our exports. Japan has many mineral resources but they are not in sufficient quantities for even for her own needs for economic stability. And that means also her political stability depends upon a continuous inward flow of raw materials and food and an outward flow of manufactured goods. Before World War 2 Japan's economic situation
was precarious. Knowledge is worse. She has lost her empire overseas her assets abroad her Merchant Marine and she's lost much of the foreign goodwill that she once had for foreign trade in 1951 was less than one half what it was before the war. But her population meanwhile had increased by 20 percent since World War Two she has depended on American aid payments and on the sale of goods and services used in the Korean War. Now if the Korean War suddenly ended or if the United Nations the United States suddenly ceased to make purchases Japan's economy would be wrecked unless of course measures were taken by the United Nations or by the United States to prevent it. Japanese history does not go back as far as out of China or Korea. The First Emperor from whom the present ruler is said to have descended lived at about the beginning of the Christian era. He was himself so it was said descended from the
gods. The Japanese imported from China. Not only Buddhism but Chinese writing and literature or art and science and some Chinese governmental institutions including a highly centralized bureaucracy for several centuries of Japanese history. The divine emperor reign but the actual ruler was a military dictator who had the resulting title of great barbarian subduing generalisable or for short the shogun. Four centuries ago Japan came into direct contact with the West through Portuguese and Spanish manners. After less than a century of dealing with Christian traders and missionaries the Japanese rulers killed or expelled the foreigners and began a period of internal peace and national exclusion that lasted until 1853 about a century ago when the American Commodore Perry arrived in yellow Bay in Japan was reopened to contact with the West. During the next 25 years the Emperor
regain most of his ancient powers and many reforms and some European institutions and ways were adopted like a European model as Japan became imperialistic and gain possession of Korea and Formosa and south Manchuria all at the expense of China which had refused to adopt Western ways. Unlike other countries Japan did not wait to be forced to modernize Japan made remarkable progress in the use of science and technology and in the development industry but not in Western political and social life. In 1989 Japan adopted a written constitution. It was not intended however to introduce democracy. And there is behind the appearance of a parliamentary regime a small clique continued to rule in the Emperor's name after World War 1 Japan adopted universal male suffrage and seemed on the verge of developing a real constitutional democratic form of government. But the 1930s brought
economic distress and political confusion and by assassination and terrorism the military has gained control of policy and launched Japan on a campaign of war and conquest in Manchuria and in China and finally against the Western democracies and the United States. There is no doubt that the year in 1945 the year of Japan's surrender will stand out as one of the most important dates in Japanese history. Up to then dependability able to boast that thanks to divine protection she had never been and never would be invaded. But this time President was broken for Japan not only lost a major war but an occupation force landed and stayed for seven years during the seven years the occupying powers imposed a series of internal reforms because they were convinced that the only way to make sure the demand would remain a peaceful neighbor
was to make her into a democratic nation under the direction of General MacArthur. The occupation tried in a number of ways to encourage democracy. For instance the occupation authorities drafted a new constitution for the Japanese government. The occupation the new law was enacted that abolished the thought control police. It gave women the right to vote. It redistributed land reform the educational system. In fact there was almost no aspect of life at the occupation left alone. Some of these reforms like getting rid of the feared thought control police were enthusiastically received by most of the people. Other reforms were resisted particularly those that seem to run counter to certain ideas and principles which the Japanese had long cherished laws relating to the family system would fall into this category. But on the whole the occupation proceeded more smoothly than had been originally
anticipated. Also the occupation authorities being human are sometimes prone to exaggerate the effect and effectiveness of their work. I sometime forgot that the mere presence of a new law on the books did not necessarily mean that actual practice was conforming to such a law. The result was that many Americans got the impression that Japan had become a cruelly democratic nation. There are increasing signs there are early optimistic estimates of the changes that occurred in Japan have to be revised. Basically democracy as a way of life. And so the democratization of Japan calls for fundamental changes in the ideas ideals and attitudes of individuals. Obviously this kind of change cannot be achieved overnight. We know that democracy is dependent on individual ism. But as yet the individual in Japan is subordinated to the group particularly the family. We know that democracy is
dependent on effective political parties which will work for the common good. But as yet parties in Japan are mostly collections of cliques led by a few strong leaders and short. Japan is not yet a true democracy. What she has been in is moving however slowly in the direction of democracy. Indeed this is the most hopeful aspect of modern Japanese history. If we take the long view and ignored the short run ups and downs we find that the idea of the dignity of the individual has been gaining influence in Japan for a long time. Just a century ago Commodore Perry opened Japan. Since then she has felt the impact of western ideas. She has adopted many western techniques. She has become an industrialized nation and an increasing portion of her population has been moving from the rural areas to the big cities. These developments have weakened the hold of traditional ideas and there is no question
that there no is this a greater awareness of individualism and of democracy. Democracy and democratic ideas are in the discussion of social reforms were never given much encouragement under the old regime but some ideas of Christian humanitarianism and political and social change. Socialism trade unionism and agrarian reform were brought in from the west. Five of the six principal organizers of the first Social Democratic Party in Japan were Japanese Christians and one of them son Carter Yama who was also a founder of the Japanese Communist Party was educated here in the United States. Since the advocacy of communism was a capital offense the Japanese Communists had to work illegally from the date of their organization July 15 1922 until the American occupation in 1945. Some party members had spent as much as 18 years in prison. The party never claimed in those days more than a thousand members.
They advocated the usual call your communist program of confiscation of the land lords land nationalization of banks and other enterprises defense of the Soviet Union and overthrow of the Imperial regime and the establishment of a Soviet Japan. Their slogan was a rather interesting one. It was this for the peoples revolution. For rice in freedom. Well communism very many made very little progress in Japan and a few who took part in the movement were either forced to leave the country or they were rounded up and put into jail as a part of the comprehensive program of reforms. General MacArthur as supreme commander for the Allied Powers ordered the release of all political prisoners prisoners and the suspension of all laws restricting freedom of thought of religion of assembly and of speech. And as a result the Japanese communist leaders who had been in prisons throughout the 1930s were released and they really immediately reorganized adeptness Communist Party at the same time
prominent communists who had been in exile returned to assume leadership. One of the most important of these communists was no sucka who has led to Moscow in 1931 and for a number of years had worked for the common turn. Then during World War Two he went to the U.N. then the cup with all the Chinese communists in the and then the circle came into close contact with Amal the leader of the Chinese Communist Party. After his return to Japan Masako became the chief theorist of the Communist Party and he tried to apply some of the lessons he had learned in China. He tried for example to get a mass following as a Cantone as communists had done in their rise to power. He denied that the Japanese Communist Party had ties with Moscow. And he spoke of and I quote achieving social justice and of building a democratic Japan through a process of peace for revolution and the quotation. And for a time these talks succeeded tactics succeeded in winning the support of some non
communists. But the Japanese communists in spite of saying that they did not follow the Moscow line were like the other communist parties outside of Russia having a pretty hard time actually trying to follow that line. And at the same time trying to win the support among the Japanese people. Comrade talk Huda the general secretary of the party in an article published in a Russian magazine admits that the party leaders could not make up their minds whether they should regard Japan as still an imperialist country as it had been before the war or whether they should consider that it would become a colonial dependent country. The party leaders finally decided that they should consider that Japan was in reality if not in name a dependency. That is a colony of the United States. This meant that the forthcoming revolution as they call it the forthcoming revolution in Japan would not be directed at overthrowing the present government and social order but it would be first directed toward a democratic revolution for national liberation. The
aim of this new line is to appeal to the largest possible number of Japanese people not just workers and peasants. And they recognize that one of the most effective appeals to people is anti foreign ism especially anti-Americanism. The continued presence of United Nations troops in Japan and the American occupation of the UK use provides ammunition for such a campaign in spite of their claims about the popularity of their new program. They're communists did very badly in the elections of 1952 in the previous elections as I have already mentioned they won 35 seats. But in the next election they failed to elect a single member of parliament. I'm like the Chinese Communist the Japanese party has no Liberation Army in Japan itself but it is reported that units of such an army are being supplied and trained on the nearby Russian held Sakhalin Island. That force however is more of a talk a little threat. In general I think it's fair to
say that the position of the party is weaker than four years ago. But while it remains weaker will depend among other things upon the economic conditions in Japan one of the basic problems which depend faces is that of making her economy work sufficiently well to provide a decent standard of living for her people. When you have millions of people out of work when we're just are so low that the average person cannot adequately house feed and clothe his family. And when future prospects of a better life seem dim then people are more inclined to look with favor on communist doctrines. Japan therefore must find ways to make your economy function. And since Japan has a large population living on a small area of land and since Japan lacks coking coal iron ore and petroleum all of which are necessary for an industrialized country she must live on foreign trade. That is she must buy raw materials from other countries process them and then sell them abroad.
This means that Japan must be able to buy in goods sell goods all over the world. But this is difficult to do at present. The United States for example does not want to Panta trade with the communist countries particularly in raw materials. But this also eliminates communist China as a source of vitally needed raw materials. For example the Chinese Communists could sell a coking coal to the Japanese for about $10 a tonne. But since this source is closed to hurt depan must buy some of our coal in the United States at the cost of 30 dollars a tonne and when the cost of raw materials is high the selling price of the finished product will also be high and this makes it difficult for Japan to sell her goods. In the past the United States has aided the debt news economy through subsidies which at one time reached a million dollars a day at the present time to Paran is enjoying something of a boom because of large procurement orders placed by the American army in Japan. But obviously this is not a permanent solution. The American taxpayer cannot afford to support the plan for ever. Nor will American orders
for war material continue indefinitely. There's an economic problem which forces the Japanese to hope and pray for the emergence of a peaceful world to depend cannot afford untaken isor neighbors. She has to buy buy from them and sell to them if she is to live and this is one reason the Japanese still cling to the article in The New Constitution which states that Japan renounces war forever and that Japan will never have any military establishment. This matter of a military establishment project Pim concerns not only the Constitution but it concerns the Communist threat from within as well as from without. Japan as Mr EK has indicated cannot afford to rearm. If she does rearm a large part of the cost must be borne by the American taxpayer or those costs must be met by lowering the standard of living in Japan. That is by spending more of what the Japanese produce for guns and spending less for rice. A policy of guns instead of rice creates discontent
and gives ammunition to the Communists. Some Japanese argue that their country cannot produce enough guns to protect themselves from Russia and China but only enough to increase the hostility are Russia and China and so lessen the security of Japan. When American politicians urge the use of Japanese troops in Korea they give unintentional support to communist propaganda rearmament say many Japanese and this includes others besides Communists can benefit the United States in its struggle for power Russia. But it won't benefit the Japanese. The Japanese want to be neutral. Many Japanese fear that rearmament will make it possible for the militarists who led Japan to disaster in World War Two to return to power. If your parent does not rearm she might be left to the mercy of the Chinese or the Russians who would of course like nothing better than to add your parents great industrial power to the communist bloc. Or if we don't. If that doesn't happen the United States must continue to keep troops in
Japan and to walk occupy Okinawa. It is natural I suppose that any military occupation no matter how benevolent sooner or later gets irksome to the people who have to live under it day after day. And Japan was no exception to the rule. Toward the end of the occupation the Japanese were anxious to regain their sovereignty to be able to run their own affairs without dictation from the occupation forces. There was widespread desire for national independence and ideally all occupation forces should have been withdrawn. But as Professor Fischer has stated this was not practicable given the world situation and the division of the world into two blocs. And so here again we became vulnerable to communist propaganda about American imperialism. The Communists are not posing as the champions of national independence and of peace. Americans are being accused by the communists are being imperialists who seek to
make Japan a satellite state and of being warmongers. And since their existence Japan a deep urge and yearning for national independence and for peace. These communist slogans are likely to evoke a certain amount of sympathetic response. This poses of course a number of thorny problems in so far as American policy toward Japan and indeed toward Asia is concerned. Now with regard to these very thorny problems which Mr EK refers to it would seem through the history of the last 25 years would seem to suggest that it will be wise for us to recognize that what appeared to us to be primarily Japanese-American problems are in reality more than that. They are both Japanese and American problems but they are Pacific Asian problems and beyond that they are world problems. One of these problems
these policy problems is has to do with your parents wish to trade with communist China. Many conservative Japanese businessmen have recently been demanding that there be a restoration of the trade with China which had been almost entirely stopped since China intervened in Korea. The economic importance of this trade has been overestimated at its peak it amounted to slightly less than 11 percent of Japan's total imports and total exports. But Soviet propaganda is now emphasizing the possibilities of trade with the salvia block and claiming that American imperialism is all it prevents Japan and other countries from enjoying the rich benefits of such trade. The most promising way of dealing with Japan's trade problem it would seem is to deal with it not just as an American Japanese problem or a Japanese Chinese problem but as part of a world
problem. A leading American student of Japan's economy Dr. Jerome B. Cohen puts the matter in this way. If world communism is to be confronted by more effective weapons than mere denunciation He says the West must make room for Japanese trade expansion. And this he says can be done best by increasing greatly the total volume of world trade. Now Japan has a security problem and the bizarre to do it for independence. It is OUR to become not a satellite of Russia or of China or even of the United States. This problem can best be attained. Again not in terms of exclusive Japanese-American relations but as a part of the larger problem of world organization. World organization since the founding of the League of Nations after World War 1
has been greatly advanced. But as as we know to our sorrow it is not yet advanced far enough to guarantee the independence of unarmed or weak countries to guarantee the independence of Japan and to guarantee her security from external or internal aggression. We have been on the other side of the world. We have found it necessary to build up a security organization. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO to provide this security until the World Organization is stronger perhaps its going to be necessary for us to build up a Pacific treaty organization to serve the security of that vast region after the fashion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. On the other side of the world. Why don't we come to that point or not. And it looks as if that is the direction in which our
policy is taking. We Americans must recognize that in spite of our wealth we cannot afford to provide full economic support for Japan. And to say nothing of other countries of the free world in spite of our power. We cannot solve all the security problems of Japan and other parts of the world. We cannot by ourselves solve all of these economic problems or make all of the political decisions. We wouldn't do it if we could because that is the formula. The Moscow formula of world organization that is also the surest way to help the communists of Japan. We got to be true to our own principles and to our own believes in democracy and we can also contribute most to the security of Japan both internal and external by a deeper understanding of the problems of the
Japanese people and by cooperation with the nations of the Pacific Asian area and of the nations of the world to solve these problems of security and economic well-being. This has been an analysis of communism in Japan by Dr. Harold H. Fisher chairman of the Hoover Institute and library at Stanford University. His special guest was a who were Institute colleague Dr. Noble talk an associate editor of The Far Eastern quarterly. This talk was another transcribed program in the series. People under communism. The series as a whole was prepared in consultation with scholars from the Russian Institute of Columbia University Hoover Institute in library at Stanford and the Russian Research Center at Harvard University. This is Parker Wheatley. These programs are prepared and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters and are made possible under
a grant from the fun for adult education an independent organization established by the Ford Foundation. This is the N A B network.
People under communism
Communism in Japan
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents a talk by Professor Harold Fisher of Stanford University: "Communism in Japan". Fisher also speaks to Nobutaka Ike, professor of Japanese and East Asian politics at Stanford University.
Series Description
A series of documentaries, interviews and talks based upon documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intentions of the Soviet Union.
Broadcast Date
Politics and Government
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Advisor: Hoover Institute and Library on War, Revolution, and Peace
Advisor: Columbia University. Russian Institute
Advisor: Harvard University. Russian Research Center
Funder: Fund for Adult Education (U.S.)
Host: Wheatley, Parker, 1906-1999
Producer: Tangley, Ralph
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Speaker: Fisher, Harold H. (Harold Henry), 1890-1975
Speaker: Ike, Nobutaka
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-38-16 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:35
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Chicago: “People under communism; Communism in Japan,” 1953-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 10, 2023,
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APA: People under communism; Communism in Japan. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from