chapter  10
SOCIAL-DEMOCRACY AND SYNDICALISM IN CONTENTION—EUROPEAN BATTLES REFOUGHT IN JAPAN
Pages 52

European social-democracy continued to be the major influence acting on the socialist movement in Japan in the period immediately following the Russo-Japanese War. As with the earlier Heimin Shimbun (Common People’s Newspaper) and Chokuen (Straight Talking), the columns of Hikari (Light) were full of glowing references to the German Social-Democratic Party (SPD) and to the leaders who had built it up into a mass organisation. The admiration with which the SPD was regarded is conveyed in a short piece on the finances of the SPD which appeared in the first issue of Hikari on 20 November 1905.1 Figures were rattled off there (such as the SPD’s annual income —given as ¥361,530) with the apparent intention of impressing Hikari’s readers with the power of the SPD and the support it enjoyed, as demonstrated by its financial resources. A year later, Yamaguchi Koken and Nishikawa Kōjirō decided to mark the first anniversary of Hikari by printing Wilhelm Liebknecht’s photograph on the front page of their journal. In the accompanying article, this former leading member of the SPD was quoted with great respect and referred to as sensei (‘teacher’ or ‘master’).2 Kōtoku Shūsui too, writing from California in an article published in Hikari in March 1906, chose to make his point that a revolution was allegedly coming by directing attention not only to the turmoil in Russia but also to the election of Labour MPs in the January 1906 general election in Britain and

to the position of the SPD in German society. Kōtoku’s three points of reference to show that revolution was supposedly on the order of the day were thus Russia, Britain and Germany. The ‘sober British workers’ were ‘quietly achieving a peaceful revolution’, while in Germany ‘the Socialist Party has finally resolved that revolution is inevitable’.3