Sen Katayama

Japan and Genoa

(19 April 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 28, 19 April 1922, pp. 213–214.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive

Japan is invited to the Genoa Conference. The chief aim of the Conference is to discuss the economic and financial reconstruction of Europe, in which Japan has no direct concern. Any conference that discusses the economic reconstruction of Europe without America will hardly get any substantial result, so the opposition in the Japanese Diet criticised the government for its taking a part in the coming Conference. To this Foreign Minister Uchida replied, giving the government’s reasons tor accepting the invitation:

“Of course, Japan has no direct relation with Europe but at this Conference it is so arranged that Russia is to take part. Japan is extremely interested in the Russian problem, therefore, disregarding whether America takes part or not it has been decided that Japan take part in the Conference. If the Russian problem is only one of the development of her resources, then it may impossible to solve it without America’s participation or American capital but as the Russian debts will be discussed in the Conference it is necessary that Japan should take part. I think that the Conference will not be entirely influenced by the American position. America’s non-participation will have a great influence on the Conference but without it I think that we can nevertheless obtain a fair result.

“As a result of this Conference we will in reality have to recognize the Soviet government I think, but if it fails things will be the same as they are today. To permit Russia in the Conference is not to have recognised the Lenin government. Although the Genoa Conference is a financial and economic conference yet it is not objectionable if its agreements become political. At all events, if the Lenin government adheres firmly to Communism the matter may be different, but for the agreements of the Genoa Conference to be satisfactory Russia must give up the principle hitherto upheld and then there is no impediment as to our recognizing Russia.”

As to the so-called Nikolaievsk affair the Japanese Foreign Minister has the following to say:

“The Moscow government recognizes the Far Eastern Republic and a representative of the Far Eastern Republic may also be present at the Genoa Conference. In the future the Far Eastern Republic and the Soviet government may unite. Then it is our desire to open negotiations as soon as possible.”

Thus the Imperial Diet decided on February 17th to participate in the Genoa Conference and voted 201,000 yen for expenses. It is also noteworthy that in this matter all the parties have supported and voted the appropriation and from the tone of the discussions in the committee they are quite optimistic as to the possible results of the Conference.

From the words of Foreign Minister Uchida we can conclude that the reasons for Japan’s acceptance of the invitation to the Genoa Conference is that Russia is to take a part in the Conference Everybody admits that America can help Europe’s economic reconstruction and Russia’s economic development, but America wants to help them in her own way, in a miser’s way in regard to Europe and in a capitalistic manner in regard to Russia. Thus it is possible that the outcome of the Genoa Conference will be very insignificant, but it is a great victory for Soviet Russia. The enemies of Soviet Russia have been beaten in the economic struggle and have confessed their inability to reconstruct Europe economically without Russia, by the act of inviting Russia to the Genoa Conference.

At last Japan finds herself mistaken in her Siberian as well as Russian policy and for the first time Japanese militarists have realized the futility of helping the reactionary generals of Czaristic Russia. This means a great moral victory for Russia over Japan. This is not only a victory for Soviet Russia but also for the Japanese masses, because the militarists of Japan have lost the entire confidence of the people on account of the Siberian affair.

The Prinkipo Island Conference was intended to help Koltchak and other reactionary Russian generals who were then fighting against Soviet Russia, it proved to be of advantage to Bolshevik Russia – at least Lenin and Trotsky made it so. Thereupon so the Allied statesmen ignominiously dropped the Prinkipo Conference. The present Genoa Conference is called to assist the European situation. One reason why the capitalist powers are ready to invite Bolshevik Russia is based on a mistaken conception of the new economic policy of the Soviet government. They think or try to think that the Lenin government’s Communist policy has entirely failed and that now Lenin has changed his policy and is rapidly returning to capitalism, so that Russia will soon become a capitalist country like the other Western European countries. Yes, Lenin has adopted capitalism in Russia. Private enterprise are allowed, free trade, profit-making industry and trade are permitted. So far it is capitalism, and the interpretation of the Allied statesmen is correct. But this is not all. There is one important factor still, which the Allied statesmen ignore or did not know, namely, that Russia’s present capitalism is unlike that of Western capitalism as conceived by Lloyd George and others – it is a capitalism under Soviet rule. Capitalism under the rigid control of the Soviet government of the workers and peasants. Not only that but the present Soviet government is a party government and that government party is the Bolshevik Party, the Communist Party, which is the moving spirit of the Communist International.

The Allies have invited Soviet Russia to the Genoa Conference because they think that they could induce Russia to agree to pay the Czarist government debts, which were used to oppress the people and crush the movement for freedom. Well! Russia may give a promise to them to pay. That is all she could do now. Anyway she is now the master of the situation. If is her own pleasure to do whatever she likes as to the old Czarist debts. The Allies tried to get them by force and by aiding the reactionary generals and they failed utterly in every attempt. Now they invite Soviet Russia to the Genoa Conference with due respect and consideration! The only hope they seem to have is that Latin has failed in Communism and that he is now adopting capitalism in Russia and will soon return completely to the old capitalism or will soon be overthrown by the newly created capitalism. But they will be disappointed in all these expectations.

Today Russia is stronger than ever since the November revolution. She has driven out all the reactionary generals and all the White Guards even from the Far Eastern territories. Soviet Russia is far stronger than France at the time of the Congress of Vienna. Soviet Russia has far better statesmen in Lenin and in many others than Tallyrand, and the Holy Alliance of the present, the League of Nations, is far weaker and the promoters of the League of Nationss have confessed it long before this.

Now Japan’s position is somewhat similar to that of Italy at the Berlin Congress just after the Crimean War. But Japan has no Cavour. Japan, however, has gained in financial influence during the late war, but she has since been losing her export trade more and more. During the war Japan exported over four billion yen over imports. Her gold increased eighteen hundred million yen and reached a total of twenty-one hundred and seventy million yen. But in reality this means nothing but a change of goods to gold, for now Japan lacks every necessaries of life. Her rice is short, houses, electricity, transportation and everything that is necessary for life are lacking and prices are exceptionally high. The foreign trade balances have been unfavorable for the past two years. The people are dissatisfied with their conditions.

Thus Japan is in no better condition than before the war. She needs the recovery of her foreign trade, but unless the economic adjustment of the world, especially of Europe and America is realized, the purchasing power of Europe will not he increased for a long time to come. Capitalism has no power to adjust the economic condition of the world even if one hundred conferences are held. The Genoa Conference will not bring any big blessing to the impoverished countries of Europe. If anyone gains by the Genoa Conference it will be first of all England, because England is in a far better financial position today than since the war and the armistice. The exchange value of the pound sterling has risen almost to normal; she has apparently solved the troubled Irish question and skilfully suppressed Egyptian national uprisings at least for the present. What England wants is a foreign market in Russia and in other parts of the world. She will play an important role in the Genoa Conference and will come out a temporary victor over France, because she may [be] able to make some compromise with the German capitalists and open a way to extend her influence in Russia. This, however, does not means that Russia will lose anything, because, as I said before, Russia’s position is impregnable as tested by the experiences of the past four years. Her inner condition has been improving in spite of famine and blockade. The adoption of the new economic policy has greatly strengthened the position of the Bolshevik government and production is rapidly increasing in every sphere of industry. Her currency question is apparently grave but the Soviet government has nothing to lose by the present currency system. Unlike the French revolutionary government, Russia of today has no better money than the Soviet roubles and her people must use it whether they like it or not. All the foreign trade must be carried on as in any other country by gold bullion. Soviet Russia’s condition will improve faster than any other country’s. What Russia needs today is transportation facilities and increased production.

Thus Soviet Russia is in a powerful position and she will go to the Genoa Conference better prepared to meet her enemies than anybody else. The Vienna Congress of 1815 assured the French revolution, the bourgeois revolution, and the Genoa Conference assures Russia her Bolshevik Revolution!

Last updated on 1 September 2019