Kotoku Shusui (1871 – 1911)Socialist leader, one of the first proponents of radical political action in Japan. Firstly, In 1903 Kotoku Shusui resigned from his job as a journalist in Tokyo when it announced its support for the Russo-Japanese war and the occupation of Korea. He went on from there to start the anti-war Common People’s Newspaper Heimin Shinbun for which he would soon be imprisoned. He was arguing that patriotism since it had its origins in hatred of the enemy rather than love for ones country was militarism. Though he did allow that there was such thing as a just war, nominating North Americas attempt to abolish the slavery. If a war was for humanity, ethics, and freedom it was justified. The war against Russia was not such war.
Secondly, Kotoku’s had a point in that in the past and would be proven again it would be very costly for Japan to go to war, without bringing any gain at all. He said that neither the Sino-Japanese war nor the boxer rebellion had delivered any profit to Japan. None of the foot soldiers had gained any, only business, high raked officers, and bureaucrats had profited. Higher taxes and increased costs of living was the only result for the working class people. He was concerned by pointing out the link between war and capitalism. Militarism would to dominate Japan after the war. Something Kotoku opposed. Kotoku wrote before the war that chasing Russia out of Manchuria would secure Japans interest by making Korea safe from Russia – but even if the Russians did leave Manchuria it would not be enough. They would then have to be chased out of Siberia, then St Petersburg, and then Europe itself. Kotoku instead suggested peaceful, but large scale emigration to Manchuria, investing capital and settling of land.
Thirdly, Kotoku sought to undermine the official assertion that Japan had to acquire colonies in order to solve its problem with overpopulation. He instead said that colonies benefited no one but politicians and capitalists. War and colonies benefited only the ruling classes and oppressed workers and peasants. He rejected the implication that there was “one nation” or “one national interest”, or that Japan international status could adequately represent its national identity. The prime Minister expressed that this war concerned all Japanese equally as much, but this Kotoku rejected by meaning that there was a great distinction between the masters and servants, meaning that those who wanted war were not the same that had to fight the wars. The rich could easily avoid conscription whilst the majority of the soldiers were poor.