Sen Katayama

Foreign Policy of Japan

(18 November 1922)

Source: The Communist, November 18, 1922.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain.
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid.
Proofread: Andy Carloff, 2010.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

OF the 463 members in the Japanese Parliament, 281 belong to the Seiukai Party, 109 to the Kensekai Party, 30 to the Kokuminto Party, and of two non-party groups, 26 members are attached to one group and 17 to the other. Each party represents different social interests.

The strongest party, the Seiukai, represent the interests of the property owners and capitalists. At the head of this party there stands the Marquis Sionti, member of the Privy Council and of the Senior Council. The Seiukai maintains the closest relations with the multi-millionaire firm of Mitsum. It is opposed to universal suffrage and up to recently supported the occupation of Siberia and other East Asiatic provinces. At present this party is in an unfavourable position, since the loss of its leader, Chara. After the assassination of Chara, Takahashi was appointed Prime Minister. The latter, however, was not a broad-minded statesman and was soon overthrown.

With regard to the inner organisation of this party, it is run on relatively democratic principles and as a consequence very often changes its leaders. Only the most capable and gifted politicians can maintain themselves at the head of the party. It is to these democratic methods that the growth of the party during the last thirty years is to be ascribed, since the way lies open to every talented member to high commanding positions. In recent times however, the Seiukai Party has become subject more and more to corruption and has become the scene of many scandals.

The Kensekai Party was founded by Prince Katzura as a party of the bureaucracy. At present it represents the interests of the industrial and commercial magnates. After Katzura, the leadership of the party was taken over by the Marquis Okuma, who was followed by Viscount Kato, the present official president of the party (not to be confused with Admiral Kato, the present Prime Minister). Marquis Okuma represents the Kensekai in the Senior Council. The Kensekai Party maintains relationships with another multi-millionaire firm, Mitzubishi. There was a time when the Kensekai Party fought for universal suffrage and the evacuation of Siberia. Being a party of the industria1 and commercial capitalists, its organizations are for the most part in the industrial centres.

The third strongest parliamentary party, the Kokuminto Party was established in 1910. It represents the interests of the shipbuilding corporation, particularly of the shipping magnate, Katzura. The party has always supported universal suffrage and the evacuation of Siberia and even supports the revolutionary parties of China. At its head there stands Inukai, the virtual dictator the party. In consequence of its lack of democratic control, this party has never succeeded in becoming popular and has never had more than 30 to 35 members in Parliament. The Kokuminto Party, like the Kensekai Party, supports the continental policy and is therefore an adherent of the army clique.

The two non-party groups have no definite political tendencies and no definite followers. They are groups of solitary members of parliament who have united for one reason or another.

These are the most important parties of Japan: in addition to these there is the so-called Kenrioto, founded by Prince Ito, the liberal statesman and follower of the European and especially of the German State system. He is also the author of the Constitution and is the promoter of great cultural work. After Ito, Yamagoto took over the leadership of this group. One may say that Japan is actually governed by this group which maintains connections with all important representatives of the capitalists and feudal lords.

Any political party desiring to take part in the Government must enter into a compromise with the Kenrioto. This group controls the whole Government apparatus. Many groups of talented officials who received their education in the State universities are likewise under the influence of the leaders of the Kenrioto: Ito and Yamagato.

Besides the Kenrioto and the groups allied to it, there are two opposition parties or rather cliques. The one represents the interests of the Army and the other the interests of the Navy. The army clique is in close relationship with the great capitalists and continually strives after increasing the standing army, regardless as to whether the country can or cannot bear the burdens entailed thereby. The naval clique stands chiefly for the expansion of Japan in the direction of the Southern Islands.

The antagonism existing between the military and naval cliques is very characteristic of Japanese political life. Over the question of the budget, they are always fighting one another, but they are united when it is a question of exploiting the country.

These two cliques are always fighting each other over the Japanese Government. The naval clique, for instance, overthrew the government of Katzura and put in its place the government of Yamamoto. After a scandal brewed up by the army clique, Yamamoto was obliged to resign.

After this the interests of the army were represented by the Government of Okuma and Teroutshi, but in consequence of the bankruptcy of the Siberian policy, Teroutshi had to give up his post to Kato. Since that time, the Navy clique has ruled in Japan through the present cabinet of Admiral Kato, which is supported by the Seiukai.

This struggle of the two cliques is kept alive by reason of the fact that in Japan, only the representatives of the capitalists have the right to vote. Today, only those citizens who pay at least a tax of 3 yen per year have the right to vote. Of the 60 million inhabitants, only three million can vote. The sale and purchase of votes in Japan is carried on quite openly regardless of the stringent law. The candidate who pays out the most money has the greatest prospect of being elected. In this way the whole political system of Japan is interwoven with capitalist corruption.

In recent times the struggle for universal suffrage lifts assumed significant proportions but it is almost impossible to obtain universal suffrage through Parliament, since Parliament, as has already been mentioned, represents the interests of the capitalists—the enemies of this movement. The movement for universal suffrage extends to the petty bourgeoisie which belongs to none of these cliques and suffers very much from the venality of the officials.

In this way we see that present-day Japanese politics are determined not by the people, or even by Parliament, but by capitalistic and bureaucratic naval and military cliques. This system will only be overthrown by universal suffrage, which in spite of these cliques and in spite of Parliament, will not allow itself to be kept waiting long.

Last updated on 3 December 2020