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Japanese and Chinese Immigrant Activists

Japanese and Chinese Immigrant Activists: Organizing in American and International Communist Movements, 1919–1933

Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Japanese and Chinese Immigrant Activists
    Book Description:

    InJapanese and Chinese Immigrant Activists,Josephine Fowler brings us the first in-depth account of Japanese and Chinese immigrant radicalism inside the United States and across the Pacific.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4354-3
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    In a letter dated 5 January 1928, and signed in his capacity as editor of the Japanese-language paperKaikyusen(Class War), Japanese immigrant Communist Kenmotsu Sadaichi (aliases Sasaki and Vasiliev) wrote to veteran Japanese Communist Katayama Sen in Moscow. After noting that when Katayama’s last letter “arrived here, the contents were gone, so it was just an envelope,” he reflected on the past year. “Those of us gathering here in SF [San Francisco] are making nothing but mistakes and blunders. But even though we make mistakes, we are steadily rising up and continuing the fight.” Signing off, “Until the next...

  2. PART I Origins and Beginnings

    • 1 Historical Background
      (pp. 17-30)

      By 1920 revolution in Europe had not materialized as predicted, but mass demonstrations against Japanese imperialism and European imperialism had taken place in Korea and China in the spring of 1919; thus, the Bolsheviks began to look toward the east for support from revolutionary movements in Asia. The Second Congress of the Comintern, held from 19 July to 7 August 1920 in Petrograd and Moscow, appointed a special Commission on the National and Colonial Questions whose task was to draft a report on the subject. The very fact that the Comintern had begun to address these questions—a development that...

    • 2 Study Groups, the Oriental Branch, and “Hands Off China” Demonstrations Issei Radicals’ and Left-wing Chinese Students’ Activism, 1919–1926
      (pp. 31-60)

      The “Twenty-One Conditions,” which were ratified at the Second Comintern Congress, signaled the beginning of the process that would culminate in the “universalisation of Bolshevism.” The conditions stated among other things that every organization seeking admission to the International must adhere to the principle of democratic centralism, on the basis of “iron discipline, and accept that “All decisions by congresses of the Communist International as well as by its Executive Committee are binding on all parties belonging to the Communist International.”¹ At the same time, as noted by Edward Hallett Carr, the mid-1920s was a time “when international relations were...

  3. PART II From the Top Down

    • 3 “The Red Capital of the Great Bolshevik Republic”
      (pp. 63-73)

      Moscow was, in Katayama’s words, “The Red Capital of the Great Bolshevik Republic.”¹ From Moscow, directives, wisdom, and inspiration flowed outward to the national sections of the Comintern, while representatives of national communist parties in turn traveled to Moscow to attend congresses, receive theoretical and practical instruction at international schools of communism, and confer with cadres from around the world. This was the ideal according to which the “Great Bolshevik Republic” was to operate.

      By adopting a top-down, metropolitan-focused approach, I describe the formal structure of the Comintern from the initiation of the process of Bolshevization at the Second Comintern...

    • 4 Advancing Bolshevism from Moscow Outward and Back and Forth across the Pacific
      (pp. 74-98)

      German Communist Otto Braun recalls his years spent working as Comintern military adviser to the CCP in China and notes the varying levels of risk faced by non-Chinese versus Chinese Communists in Shanghai during the years 1932–1933: “the conditions under which we worked were hazardous. We non-Chinese, of course, could meet in relative safety, for we were furnished with ‘clean’ passports and lived in the International Settlement or the French Concession. We had only to exercise the necessary caution, mix exclusively with foreigners in public, occasionally visit a club, and otherwise behave as inconspicuously as possible.”¹ Given the Chinese...

  4. PART III From the Bottom Up

    • 5 From East to West and West to East Ties of Solidarity in the Pan-Pacific Revolutionary Trade Union Movement, 1923–1934
      (pp. 101-119)

      The Communist press issued this brief statement at the Congress of the Federation of Maritime Workers, which convened in January 1925 in Moscow; the document exposed some contradictions at the center of the Communist-led pan-Pacific revolutionary trade union movement.² These stirring words called upon all seamen, regardless of nationality, to join the ranks of the movement for social equality, the overthrow of the colonialist system and imperialist intervention, and the emancipation of exploited workers across Asia. This message of universal liberation and self-activity among rank-and-file Asian workers, however, was undermined by an evolutionist mode of thought that saw the advancement...

    • 6 Left-wing Chinese Immigrant Activists Communism and the Strengthening of the Kuomintang in America
      (pp. 120-138)

      In late March 1927 left-wing Chinese activists Shi Huang, Shih Tso, and Xu Yongying wrote a “confidential” letter to General Secretary Jay Lovestone under Shi’s home address in San Francisco to inform the Party of the recent formation by the KMT in America’s Central Committee of a Committee on the Abolition of Unequal Treaties. As “communists in principle,” their “policy with the committee” was “not only to seek for the abolition of unequal treaties, but to see to it that there is any chance for the advancement of Communism in America.” They also saw “great hope both for the advancement...

    • 7 Chinese Workers in America Labor Organizing and Rallying for Support of the Chinese People
      (pp. 139-169)

      In the wake of Chiang Kai-shek’s anti-Communist coup in April 1927, as the ongoing intraparty struggle within the KMT in America became ever more fierce, the presence of Chinese immigrants in the American Party was formalized through the formation in May of a Chinese Bureau of the W(C)P. Two months later, with the end of the KMT-CCP united front in China, there was a corresponding collapse of cooperative relations between the KMT in America and the W(C)P. Indeed, the latter struggle culminated in early 1928 with “instructions from CI and CEC to dissolve all branches of the KMT that we...

    • 8 Formation of the Oriental Branch of the ILD Organizing among Japanese Workers and the “Second Generation Working Youth”
      (pp. 170-199)

      Like its parent organization, the Oriental Branch took as its mission support of all workers “within” and without America, including immigrants, class war prisoners and their families, “the poor” who together formed “a marvelous labor class,” and peoples who were being “trampled by imperialism.” They articulated a broadly internationalist as well as class-based agenda. As a pan-Asian branch of the ILD, however, the Oriental Branch was the child of activists from Japan, China, India, Korea, and the Philippines who were engaged in “mutually helping one another achieve emancipation.” These closing lines carried the reader back to the beginning of...

  5. Conclusion
    (pp. 200-206)

    On March 23, 1934, the head of the West Coast union William Lewis, at the request of President Roosevelt, called off a planned strike by San Francisco longshoremen. In the midst of a bitter fight with District 13 DO Sam Darcy over the role of the Party and the Communist-led MWIU in the organizing struggles on the waterfront, the reappointed head of the American Bureau-PPTUS Harrison George wrote a “Special Report” to a comrade telling him what “we” were doing in the longshoremen’s strike situation on the Pacific Coast.¹ He declared:

    This was the exact psychological moment and the most...