Wartime resistance in imperial Japan

21 Aug

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"Listen! Workers of all Nations!" Japan had a lively working class movement in the early twentieth century “Listen! Workers of all Nations!” Japan had a lively working class movement in the early twentieth century

This article is based on a chapter from Fighting on all fronts: popular resistance in the Second World War, edited by Donny Gluckstein


Histories of wartime Japan in English portray Japan as a monolithic entity, with the population united behind the militaristic goals of the state. The kamikaze pilots symbolise this perspective – young men eager to die for the emperor.

It is well documented that the Japanese state and military cast a heavy shadow over the whole society, imposing uniformity from above from the time they invaded Manchuria in 1931 until surrender in 1945. What is little known or reported in English is the resistance against the increasing militarism, exacerbated by the deprivation, misery and devastation of ordinary lives.

The resistance was both collective and individual as the state’s war of…

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