Short History of the Japan Left (1)

Iwao Kitamura ikita at
Wed Aug 30 20:57:11 MDT 1995

Someone on this list mailed me personly and told
me to continue this topic.
In order to give a basic perspective, I begin with
a short history of Marxist movement in pre-war period.

The organization, to which I belong, has a tradition
of so-called Rounou-marxism.Rounou-Marxisim has its
origin in magazine 'Rounou'(Workers and Peasants)
issued by Hitohi Yamakawa and others in 1927. At the
time, the 1st communist party was organaized in 1921
and soon prohibited by the government.
Then marxists split into two tendencies. One was
so-called Yamakawa-ism led by Hitoshi Yamakawa and
another was so-called Fukumoto-ism led by Kazuo Fukumoto.
Fukumoto insisted on reorganazing a communist party
as a pure vanguard party by his theory of 'split before
unification' that was supported by students.
Yamakawa criticized this theory and insisted on organizing
a mass proletarian party. He also preached the importance
for marxists to organize mass workers through fighting
for their immediate profit('Change the tendency of our
proletarian movement' 1922).
Later the 2nd Communist Party was organized mainly
by Fukumoto-ists but soon Fukumoto-ism was criticized
by Comintern and she changed her path.
Rounou group worked inside several proletarian parties.
The controvercy between Rounou marxists and the Communist
Party concentrated into strategy of revolution.
Rounou marxists explained that Japan was a capitalist
state ruled by bourgiosie and the strategy must be
targeted on socialist revolution. In the contrary,
the Communist Party described Japan as an absolutist state
ruled by the emperor regime. She insisted on the 2 stage
strategy that a democratic revolution would be first and
followed by a socialist revolution. This contravercy
centered on definition of Meiji revolution(1868).
Rounou marxists called anti-fascist people's front in
the circumstance of growing militarism. This effort failed
because of oppression by the government and also
pro-militarism tendency among some proletarian parties.
Throughout the 2nd world war, most activists of Rounou
group and CP were jailed or confirmed informally.

Iwao Kitamura
a member of theoritical study group
Socialist Association (Japan)
E-mail : ikita at
personal web:

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