From ProleWiki, the proletarian encyclopedia
Flag of Japan
Coat of arms of Japan
Coat of arms
Location of Japan
and largest city
Official languagesJapanese
Dominant mode of productionImperialist Capitalism
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary monarchy
• Emperor
• Prime Minister
Fumio Kishida
• Total
377,975 km²
• 2021 estimate
CurrencyJapanese yen

Japan (日本) is an island country in East Asia. Japan spans an archipelago of 6,852 islands; the four main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu.

The first written mention of the archipelago appears in the Chinese chronicle, the Book of Han, finished in the 2nd century AD. The country was unified in 1603 under the Tokugawa shogunate. In 1931, Japan invaded China, and later in 1937 Japan reignited hostilities, starting World War II. Japan surrendered in 1945 and came under a seven-year occupation.

Japan is a member of the United Nations, the OECD, and the Group of Seven. It is an ally of the United States, and is also a capitalist country. Japan is a highly economically developed country, but suffers from the wealth inequality inherent in capitalism. Japan also has a problem with ultranationalist groups, one being Nippon Kaigi, of which the previous Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, was a member.

Despite being a capitalist country and geopolitical US ally, the US still saw them as an economic rival in the 1980s due to their rising economic power, and actively sabotaged their economy.

Japan has not invaded another country since World War II, as their constitution forbids them from doing so. However, their military bases are of vital importance for the US to maintain their hegemony in east Asia. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is planning to double Japan's military spending by 2027 to commit acts of aggression against China.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

Feudal era[edit | edit source]

Japanese and Russian colonization of the Ainu people from c. 700 to 1945

In the sixth century CE, Japan came into contact with China on a large scale, and its culture was deeply influenced by Chinese culture and entered into feudal society.

Feudal civil wars split Japan apart during the 15th and 16th centuries. Lords (daimyo) hired armies of samurai to fight for them. In the early 17th century, the Tokugawa clan defeated all of its rivals. The Tokugawa shogun became the absolute ruler of Japan and reduced the emperor to a figurehead. The Tokugawa Shogunate also banned guns and foreign books and restricted trade to a single port. Many former samurai became farmers or merchants, and capitalism began to develop.[2]

Meiji Restoration and early empire[edit | edit source]

In 1853, Statesian warships forced their way into Edo Bay, which was called the Black Ship Turmoil (黒船来航). They signed an unequal treaty with Japan which increased foreign imports to Japan and restricted Japanese exports. Between 1867 and 1869, an alliance of lords overthrew the Tokugawa Shogunate and put emperor Meiji in power, bringing Japan into capitalism. Using heavy taxes and conscription, they industrialized Japan and reformed its army and navy based on British and German forces. Peasants and former samurai frequently rebelled, and Japan began imperialist acts of foreign expansion.[2]

Early expansion[edit | edit source]

In 1894, Japan invaded China and Korea and started the Sino-Japanese War. The Qing army was defeated and signed the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki, which required China to cede Taiwan and some other islands to Japan. In 1904, war broke out between two imperialist countries, Japan and Russia. Most of the battles of this war were fought on the territory of China and Korea. Japan eventually won the war.

Second World War[edit | edit source]

The 14-year Chinese war of resistance against Japanese aggression began on 18 September 1931 with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria.[3]

The Japanese invasion united the Communist Party of China with the Kuomintang, and on July 7, 1937 the Japanese army, claiming that its soldiers had wandered off during maneuvers on Chinese territory, demanded to enter the city of Wanping to search it, and after being refused, launched a heavy attack on the city.

Atrocities committed by the Japanese[edit | edit source]

In northeast China, the Japanese Army established the 731 Biochemical Unit to conduct bacteriological and poisonous gas experiments on Chinese people, including exposing living people to -20 degrees Celsius outdoors for several hours before pouring hot boiling water over them. The unit also released plague-infected rats into villages to study the spread of the disease. More than 3,000 victims of live experiments by the unit alone are registered.

In December 1937, the Japanese army carried out a massacre after capturing the Chinese capital Nanjing. The death toll exceeded 300,000, and China designated December 13 as the National Day of Public Sacrifice. Japanese newspapers openly reported a killing contest between two Japanese soldiers (Toshiaki Mukai and Takeshi Noda), in which the first one to kill 100 Chinese people won. At the same time, Japan stole ancient Chinese documents and artifacts from Nanjing and sent them to Japan itself. John H. D. Rabe, a member of the Nazi Party in Nanjing, relied on his status to shelter, along with other foreigners, 250,000 Chinese from Japanese murder. His diaries reveal Japanese atrocities.

Japan surrendered on 1945 August 9. This decision is often blamed on the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but was also influenced by the Soviet Union's invasion of southern Sakhalin and preparation to invade Hokkaido.[4]

Postwar history[edit | edit source]

After the war, U.S. imperialists made Japan into a puppet state and exempted the Unit 731 war criminals from punishment in order to obtain the experimental data of Unit 731. They installed Nobusuke Kishi, a war criminal who oversaw the occupation of Manchuria, as Japan's new prime minister.[5] The CIA interfered in at least five Japanese elections between 1946 and 2000.[6]

To this day, the Japanese right wing refuses to acknowledge Japan's atrocities in China, and history textbooks make no mention of the Nanjing Massacre. Japan's Yasukuni Shrine is dedicated mainly to World War II war criminals, and former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly visited it, causing national outrage in China and Korea. Abe also passed the Conspiracy bill to criminalize actions against U.S. military bases.[7]

Government[edit | edit source]

Article 9 of the Japanese constitution prevents Japan from having an army, air force, or navy. Since 1952, Japan has used the Japanese Self-Defense Forces as an extension of the police and prison system. The U.S. government and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida are trying to remove the article and rearm Japan. The right-wing imperialist Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled almost continually since the 1950s, also supports militarism and rearmament.[8]

Culture[edit | edit source]

Art[edit | edit source]

Animation[edit | edit source]

Japanese animation is a staple of Japanese popular culture. After the 1960s, Japan has garnered a reputation for the production of Japanese animation; a particular style of Japanese animation is a mix of foreign and Japanese influence, often referred to by foreigners as anime.

The Japanese animation industry was worth 2.4 trillion yen (17.2 billion USD) in 2020.[9]

The Japanese animation industry notoriously exploits workers. Japanese animators are commonly overworked for low wages.[10][11]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Hannah Middleton (2023-02-06). "Japan’s dangerous military expansion" The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2023-02-05. Retrieved 2023-02-12.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Neil Faulkner (2013). A Marxist History of the World: From Neanderthals to Neoliberals: 'The Age of Blood and Iron' (pp. 158–159). [PDF] Pluto Press. ISBN 9781849648639 [LG]
  3. You Yang, Shi Xuchen (2020-10-15). "A look back at China's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression" CGTN.
  4. Ward Wilson (2013-05-30). "The Bomb Didn’t Beat Japan … Stalin Did" Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on 2022-01-25. Retrieved 2022-04-27.
  5. Stephen Gowans (2018). Patriots, Traitors and Empires: The Story of Korea’s Struggle for Freedom: 'The Empire of Japan' (p. 32). [PDF] Montreal: Baraka Books. ISBN 9781771861427 [LG]
  6. David Vine (2020). The United States of War: 'Normalizing Occupation' (pp. 311–2). Oakland: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520972070 [LG]
  7. Curry Malott (2017-07-13). "Japan’s Conspiracy bill signals new threats to the anti-U.S. base movement" Liberation News. Archived from the original on 2022-07-17. Retrieved 2022-11-25.
  8. Sarah Flounders (2022-12-28). "Japan rearms under Washington’s pressure − a wake-up call to the antiwar movement" Workers World. Archived from the original on 2022-12-29. Retrieved 2023-01-02.
  9. “Despite the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, the anime industry market grossed 2.4 trillion yen in 2020 (96.5%). When broken down into individual categories, the demand for people to stay at home affected the streaming market, which reached its highest profits ever at 93 billion yen (135.8%), and the international market overtook the domestic market for the first time at 1.2 trillion yen (103.2%)”

    Anime Industry Report 2021 (Japanese: アニメ産業レポート2021). Association of Japanese Animation.
  10. "Animation workers seek better working conditions" (2007-01-05). Akahata.
  11. Alex Dudok de Wit (2021-02-24-T17:35). "Exploitation In The Anime Industry: An Entry-Level Animator In Japan Explains Why She Earned $175/Week"