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

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

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

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

Read FREE!

Synopsis

Japanese and Chinese immigrants in the United States have traditionally been characterized as hard workers who are hesitant to involve themselves in labor disputes or radical activism. How then does one explain the labor and Communist organizations in the Asian immigrant communities that existed from coast to coast between 1919 and 1933? Their organizers and members have been, until now, largely absent from the history of the American Communist movement. In Japanese 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.

Excerpt

In a letter dated 5 January 1928, and signed in his capacity as editor of the Japanese-language paper Kaikyusen (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 letter,” he gave as the paper's return address that of the headquarters of District 13 (which centered on California) of the Workers (Communist) Party of America.1

Barely three weeks before Kenmotsu penned his reply and “on the way home” from Brussels to Moscow, Katayama wrote another letter, dropping it in the mail in Berlin. In this letter to the editor of The Pan-Pacific Worker (PPW), Katayama reported that he had been attending a meeting of the General Council of the League Against Imperialism (LAI), held in Brussels from 9 to 11 December 1927. The PPW was the official organ of the recently established PanPacific Trade Union Secretariat (PPTUS), which was in turn an organ of the Red International of Labor Unions (RILU, also known as the Profintern) and whose offices were initially located in Hankow, China. The aims of this new body were broad and ambitious: “To promote a joint struggle against the dangers of war between the Pacific powers” and to safeguard the Chinese revolution; “to aid all oppressed peoples of the Pacific to free themselves from the yoke of Imperialism” and “to eliminate all racial and national prejudices”; “to organize and carry out joint actions of the exploited classes and oppressed peoples against the oppressing powers”; and finally to build alliances among the trade unions of the pan-Pacific countries and unify these “with the labor movement of the whole world.”2 Katayama proceeded to describe in glowing terms the . . .

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