Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Month: January 2017

Episode 179 – Red Star Over Tokyo, Part 4

This week, the floodgates are open! The system has fallen, and the left is poised to seize power…or not!

Listen to the episode here.


Dower, John. Embracing Defeat.

Crump, John. The Origins of Socialist Thought in Japan.

Price, John. Japan Works: Power and Paradox in Postwar Industrial Relations



Citizens of Tokyo watching as electoral returns are posted on billboards in the city in 1947.


Nosaka Sanzo speaking at a rally, c. 1946. The end of World War II signaled a revival of the Communist Party, as its leadership came over from China and the USSR to revive the party at home.


Japanese communists are released from prison by the US, c. 1945.


Katayama Tetsu, Japan’s first socialist PM, at right. At left is Abe Isoo, Japan’s foremost Christian socialist and a mentor to Katayama.

Episode 178 – Red Star Over Tokyo, Part 3

Today, a specter is haunting Japan. But that specter is not communism; it’s the ghost of the communist party, dead before it truly lived. This week on the podcast: how to kill a communist party in a few easy steps.

Listen to the episode here.


Gordon, Andrew. Labor and Imperial Democracy in Prewar Japan.

Beckmann, George M and Genji Okubo. The Japanese Communist Party, 1922-1945.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan



Hayashi Fusao, one of the most high profile cultural figures to commit tenko and convert himself to the cause of Japanese ultranationalism.


Yosano Akiko became the darling of the Japanese left during the Russo-Japanese War, but jumped ship to the cause of the empire during the 1930s.


The leadership of the JCP in exile in the Soviet Union. From left to right: Tokuda Kyuichi, Nosaka Sanzo, and Shiga Yoshio.


During World War II, Nosaka allied himself to the Chinese Communist Party. Here Nosaka, in the center, attends the beginning of the 7th Party Congress with Mao Zedong (at right).


Nosaka in his military uniform as leader of a unit of “converted” Japanese POWs.

Episode 177 – Red Star Over Tokyo, Part 2

The revolution comes to Japan…but not really. Today we explore the birth and very rapid death of Japan’s first socialist party, and the rise of its communist movement.

Listen to the episode here.


Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Gordon, Andrew. Labor and Imperial Democracy In Prewar Japan.

Beckman, George M and Genji Okubo. The Japanese Communist Party, 1920-1945.



Katayama Sen, one of Japan’s first real Marxist advocates. He would die in the Soviet Union in the 1930s after two decades of exile.


Christian Socialist Suzuki Bunji speaking to crowds in 1917. Though the Japan Socialist Party was not long for this world –at least at first — socialist parties continued to operate until all parties were dissolved in 1940.


Another rally led by Suzuki Bunji.


Nosaka Sanzo, one of the founding members of the Japan Communist Party.

Episode 176 – Red Star Over Tokyo, Part 1

Today, we’ll turn our attention to a set of ideas that will ultimately fall flat on their face in Japan (and most other places): Marxism. How did the hard left come to Japan? And before that, what even is Marxism?

Listen to the episode here.


I relied heavily on the excellent Political, Economic, and Social Thought to put together this brief summary.

Contextual information was taken from Hunt, Tristam. Marx’s General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels.



Statues of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels dot all parts of the former Soviet bloc. This one is in Berlin, Germany.


Marx’s historical dialectic in action.


The Marxist stages of history.


Popular demonstrations, like the Match Girl’s March on Parliament in 1888 depicted above, became increasingly common in the late 19th century. Many of these protests had Marxists among their organizers and/or participants, creating a fear of growing Marxist influence in the West.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén