Guy A. Aldred Archive

Pioneers of Anti-Parliamentarism
Chapter 13
The Yellow Chicago

Written: 1940.
Source: PDF Scans from; OCR'ing and editing from
Transcription/Markup: Andy Carloff
Online Source:; 2021

Denjiro Kotoku formerly occupied a responsible position on the editorial staff of the Japanese daily paper, the Korozu Cho-ho (Thousand Morning News) or Tokio. Becoming familiar with Socialist and Anarchist thought, he resigned his position and founded a monthly review, Tatsu Kwa (Iron and Fire). This paper was Anarchist-Communist in tone. It preached the Class War, and was accordingly suppressed.

Kotoku had now called upon himself the hatred of the Governing Class. This despotism remembered that, during the Russo-Japanese war, Kotoku had fearlessly expressed anti-militarist convictions in the columns of the Korozu Cho. It saw those opinions assuming a more matured form, taking on more definite proportions in the revolutionary journal he had established. It answered him with the answer of authority, the proclamation of a conspiracy against the intellectual awakening of the Japanese proletariat.

The Tatsu Kwa was suppressed. All revolutionary--and even pseudo-revolutionary--magazines were suppressed. Not only Kropotkinist, Marxian, and Bakuninist journals, but also Lasallean ones, suffered the same fate. Among those thus suppressed were the Heimin Shimhim, Kunamato Hypron, Shin Shiho, and Wippon Heimin.

Kotoku answered this Governmental conspiracy against freedom of publication by devoting himself to the task of translating the works of Marx, Tolstoy, and Kropotkin into Japanese. In this work he was ably assisted by the friend--with whom he had formed a Free Love union, we understand--Mme. Kano. All these works were confiscated by the Authorities, who destroyed them.

Whilst suppressing Anarchist and Class-War Socialist thought, the Government appointed to professional seats in the Imperial and Wasada Universities men who upheld and propagated the ideas of evolutionary "State-Socialism"--the Fabian brand.

Kotoku sought to counteract this side-tracking by preaching the ideas of Revolutionary Communism to the Chinese and Japanese students resident in the University of Tokio. In this task he was ably assisted by Mme. Ho Chin and M. Lieu Sun Soh. The propaganda resulting from this activity has since been maintained through the columns of Chien Yee and the Chinese Anarchist News.

For these labors Kotoku and Kano paid the penalty of being driven into exile. The Government that had driven them to foreign shores had itself given birth to their revolutionary propaganda by causing revolutionary literature to be distributed among the Russian prisoners of war. Kotoku merely extended the area of its circulation. For this capital crime he was several times imprisoned, before being driven to take refuge in San Francisco, whither he went with his comrade, Kano. Here these two comrades assisted in the organization of the Japanese workers of America, and proclaimed to the workers of the world the formation of The Social Revolutionary Party of Japanese in America.

But Kotoku was something more than a Revolutionary Communist. He was a fervent lover of political freedom throughout the world. He was a foe of despotism in every shape and form. When Jung-Keun An, the Korean martyr, killed Prince Ito at Harbin, Kotoku praised his brave conduct in a poem written in Japanese. This was published by his San Francisco comrades on a postcard, with a portrait of Jung-Keun An. The Japanese Government remembered this against him when shortly afterwards he returned to his native land, only to be arrested, secretly tried, and murdered. Eleven of his comrades suffered the same fate.

The Japanese Government justified these murders of the Socialists and Anarchists on the ground of their "simply frightful teachings about sex relations, involving the sinking of the human race to the level of animals." Yet this same Government upholds and extols a system of universal brothelism. It supports by its legislation, and controls, through the power it has conferred on the municipal authority, "the native industry" of a town, existent a few miles outside of Tokio. This town is a walled one, known as the Shin Yoshiwara or brothel town. It consists of several miles of well-paved streets, without a single shop, cafe, stall, or hotel. Facing the street is only room after room, in which girls are confined behind thick wooden bars, through which they look out on the street at pedestrians, all of whom are men. There are 10,000 of them in this town, caged like wild beasts and on view for sale. They are the sole occupants, except for the householders and servants, who regulate the traffic. And they are the daughters of the poor, the producing class.

Such brothelism is not peculiar to Japan. It is common to Capitalism. It is as necessary as crime to the existence of the governing class. Yes, under the moral code supported by the Japanese Government, a female child, in any part of Japan, is a marketable possession and may be sold into the Yoshiwara, by her father, for minimum period of three years, at a price varying from £4 10s. to £10, according to her looks. In order to regain her release, she must save up enough to repay this amount, in addition to making a certain sum for the proprietor of the particular house into which she has been sold. All this, of course, has to come out of her sordid earnings. When she has bought her freedom, she is allowed to return to her native town and get married.

The existence of such a town--with its brothels licensed by the municipal authority, which imposes a medical inspection on the girls twice a week--is a sufficient answer to the lying hypocrisy of the Japanese Governing Class.

But this is not all. There are in Japan about ten thousand factories and workshops, employing about seven hundred thousand girls and women, and three hundred thousand boy and men operatives. Ten per cent. of the female workers are under fourteen years of age. Many girls are employed all night, as well as during the day, in the cotton factories, their employers also insisting that they should work whilst eating. By way of punishment, many employers and foremen lash their girl operators, often stripping them for the purpose. They are also imprisoned in dark rooms, and required to work on reduced rations. Heavy "fines" are imposed, and, at the end of their contract terms, they often leave the factories penniless.

Similar barbarities characterize the treatment of the male workers, the treatment of the miners beggaring description.

Let the truth be told. Kotoku and his brave comrades were condemned to death because they dared to breathe a nobler moral atmosphere than Japanese Capitalism could tolerate. They dared to lighten the intellectual darkness of the proletariat. This was their crime. Let the world of the workers pay its tribute of humble respect to the memories of these dauntless comrades in revolt, these noble pioneers of freedom, these Christs, Brunos and Apostles of the coming Social Revolution, in far away Japan.