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Sanzo Nosaka

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Subject: Japanese People's Emancipation League, Ichirō Hatoyama, Japan/Projects, Kenji Miyamoto (politician), Japanese centenarians
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Sanzo Nosaka

Sanzo Nosaka
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
April 11, 1946 – June 6, 1950
Constituency Tokyo 1st district
Member of the House of Councilors
In office
July 8, 1956 – July 3, 1977
Constituency Tokyo district
Chairman of the Japanese Communist Party
In office
Preceded by Kyuichi Tokuda
Succeeded by Kenji Miyamoto
Honorary Chairman of the Japanese Communist Party
In office
Personal details
Born (1892-03-30)March 30, 1892
Hagi, Yamaguchi
Died November 14, 1993(1993-11-14) (aged 101)
Political party Japanese Communist Party
Spouse(s) Ryu Nosaka
Alma mater Keio University

Sanzo Nosaka (野坂 参三 Nosaka Sanzō, March 30, 1892 – November 14, 1993) was a founder of the political economy, where he deepened his studies of Marxism and became a confirmed communist. Nosaka was a founding member of the British Communist Party, but his activity within British communist circles led to him being deported from Britain in 1921.[1]

After leaving Britain, Nosaka traveled through the Comintern. He traveled to the West Coast of the United States, where he worked as a communist spy from 1934-1938.[3]

After leaving the United States, Nosaka worked in China from 1940–1945, supporting the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by encouraging and recruiting captured Japanese soldiers to support and fight for the Chinese communists against the Imperial Japanese Army, and coordinating a spy network that operated throughout Japanese-occupied China. After the surrender of Japan in 1945, Nosaka returned to Japan with hundreds of other Japanese communists, where he led the Japanese Communist Party during the occupation of Japan.[4]

Nosaka attempted to brand the JCP as a populist party supporting Japan's peaceful transition into

  • Ariyoshi, Koji, Alice M. Beechert, and Edward D. Beechert. From Kona to Yenan: The Political Memoirs of Koji Ariyoshi. United States of America: Biography Research Center. 2000. ISBN 0-8248-2376-1. Retrieved on August 14, 2011.
  • Associated Press. "Obituaries: Sanzo Nosaka; Japanese Communist". Los Angeles Times. November 17, 1993. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  • "Sanzo Nosaka Ousted Communist". The Baltimore Sun. November 15, 1993. Retrieved September 25, 2011.
  • "Nosaka Sanzo". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2011. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  • Gillin, Donald G. and Etter, Charles. "Staying On: Japanese Soldiers and Civilians in China, 1945-1949." The Journal of Asian Studies. Vol. 42, No. 3, May 1983. Retrieved on February 23, 2011.
  • Inoue, Prof. Hisashi. "CCP/Eighth Route Army’s Policies Toward POWs and the Japanese Anti-War Movement in China". Harvard University. June 2002. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  • "Spy Against Japan: Letters Shed New Light on Nosaka's Espionage Acts". The Japan Times Online. October 22, 2000. Retrieved August 16, 2011.
  • Kifner, John. "John Service, a Purged 'China Hand,' Dies at 89". The New York Times. February 4, 1999. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  • Kirkup, James. "Obituary: Sanzo Nosaka". The Independent. November 16, 1993. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  • Lin Biao. "Build a People’s Army of a New Type". Long Live the Victory of People’s War! Foreign Languages Press. September 3, 1965. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  • Lucas, Dean. "By the Sword". Famous Pictures: The Magazine. July 7, 2010. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
  • Miwa, Yoshiro & Ramseyer, J. Mark "The Good Occupation". Harvard: John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics, and Business. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Law School. May 2005. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  • Pace, Eric. "Sanzo Nosaka, 101, Communist in Japan Ejected by the Party". The New York Times. November 15, 1993. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  • Scalapino, Robert A. The Japanese Communist Movement: 1920-1966. London, England: Cambridge University Press. 1967. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
  • Taylor, John. The Japanese Communist Party: 1955-1963. CIA/RSS. March 20, 1964. Retrieved August 16, 2011.
  • Whitney, Maj. Gen. Courtney. "Lifting Up a Beaten People" LIFE Magazine. Chicago: TIME. August 22, 1955. Retrieved August 16, 2011.
  • Universalium. "Nosaka, Sanso". Academic Dictionaries and Encyclopedias. 2010. Retrieved August 14, 2011.


  1. ^ a b Scalapino pp. 4-5
  2. ^ a b c d e Scalapino p. 5
  3. ^ a b c The Japan Times Online
  4. ^ Gillin and Etter pp. 511-512
  5. ^ a b c d e f Universalium
  6. ^ Taylor pp. iv, 13-14, 19
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kirkup
  8. ^ Scalapino p. 4
  9. ^ a b c d e f Encyclopædia Britannica
  10. ^ a b c d e Pace
  11. ^ Scalapino p. 21
  12. ^ Taylor p. 1
  13. ^ a b Scalapino p. 42
  14. ^ Ariyoshi, Beechert, and Beechert p. 124
  15. ^ Gillin and Etter p. 511
  16. ^ a b c Inoue
  17. ^ Ariyoshi, Beechert, and Beechert pp. 123–125
  18. ^ Ariyoshi, Beechert, and Beechert p. 126
  19. ^ Gillin and Etter p. 512
  20. ^ Lin
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Miwa and Ramseyer 8-9
  28. ^ Kifner
  29. ^
  30. ^ Taylor p. 3
  31. ^
  32. ^ a b Taylor p. ii
  33. ^
  34. ^ a b Whitney pp. 105-106
  35. ^ Taylor p. 28
  36. ^ Taylor pp. 13-14
  37. ^ Taylor p. 19
  38. ^ Taylor p. iv
  39. ^ Lucas
  40. ^
  41. ^ Taylor pp. 54-61
  42. ^ Taylor p. 75, 79
  43. ^ Associated Press
  44. ^ The Baltimore Sun
  45. ^


See also

The Chinese Documentary series "Today In The History Of Anti-Japanese War" dedicated an episode to Sanzo Nosaka.[45]

Sanzo Nosaka in the Media

One year after being expelled from the Japanese Communist Party, Sanzo Nosaka died in his home of old age. Outside the JCP, Nosaka was remembered for his gentle demeanor, good manners, and conservative sense of style, "just like a British gentleman".[7] He was 101 years old.[44]

After the allegations against Nosaka became widely known, he checked himself into Yoyogi Hospital in Tokyo (a common tactic of Japanese politicians facing scandal). When a team of investigators sent by the JCP visited him,[7] Nosaka confessed that the letter was his, but refused to discuss the matter further.[43] The JCP ordered Nosaka to be present for a general Party meeting on December 27, 1992. After some deliberation, the party that Nosaka helped found expelled him by unanimous vote.[7] The Party newspaper[10] reported that Nosaka, when asked if he had any reply to the charges against him, would only state: "I have nothing to say".[7]

The revelations of Nosaka's involvement in Yamamoto's death shocked the JCP, already reduced to six seats in the Diet after the 1991 elections. Akahata ("Red Flag"), a prominent communist newspaper, sent a team of journalists to Moscow to investigate the allegations, and they confirmed the authenticity of the documents.[7]

On September 27, 1992, two Journalists working for the magazine Shukan Bunshun, Akira Kato and Shun'ichi Kobayashi, publicly revealed evidence of Nosaka's involvement in the deaths of Kenzo Yamamoto and his wife. On a trip to Moscow, Kobayashi and Kato had managed to purchase a number of KGB documents, which had been kept secret since the Stalinist era. Among these documents was the letter that Nosaka had written in 1939 denouncing Yamamoto and his wife.[7]


After his re-entry into public life in 1955, Nosaka was elected to the House of Councillors, a post that he held until 1977.[9] Nosaka joined the faculty of Keio University, and was one of many prominent communist intellectuals active in Japanese academic institutions in his time. Nosaka remained the JCP's chairman from 1958–1982, when he stepped down at the age of 90 and took the role of "Honorary Chairman".[7]

Nosaka attempted to keep the JCP neutral during the Sino-Soviet Split of the 1960s, though the CIA interpreted that Sanzo's party remained somewhat more friendly with the Chinese.[41] On Nosaka's seventieth birthday party in 1962, Nosaka received extravagant praise from Beijing. Deng Xiaoping praised Nosaka as an "outstanding fighter of the Japanese people and comrade-in-arms of the Chinese people". The Soviets sent Nosaka a matter-of-fact confirmation of his status within the JCP, and within a month sent the JCP another letter scolding the Party for not adequately supporting Soviet positions.[42] The Soviets' measured praise of Nosaka was consistent with earlier Cominform criticism of Nosaka's political theories, which advocated a peaceful transition into communism.[9]

After Nosaka went underground, the U.S. US-Japan Security Treaty.[7] These demonstrations forced the American president, Dwight Eisenhower, to cancel a visit to Japan, and forced the Japanese Premier, Nobusuke Kishi, to resign, but failed to achieve their main goal of seriously disrupting US-Japan relations. In Japanese public opinion, the demonstrations were received as a national embarrassment, and the JCP received only 3% of the popular vote in the 1960 elections.[38] The US-Japan Security Treaty was opposed by both ultra-rightists as well as ultra-leftists. In an attempt to stop the bill from being passed, an ultra-rightist university student named Otoya Yamaguchi, rushed the stage and fatally stabbed the leader of the Japanese Socialist Party, Inejiro Asanuma twice in the stomach with a wakizashi, as the latter was giving a speech in support of the bill. After his arrest, Yamaguchi told police that he had hoped to assassinate Nosaka as well.[39] In Nov 1963, Nosaka survived an assassination attempt while making a speech in Osaka. The perpetrator was 22-year-old Masahiro Nakao, a member of the rightist group Dai Nippon Gokuku Dan. Nakao, armed with a dagger, leaped on a platform where Nosaka was giving his speech. Nakao was subdued by Party members who turned him over to the police.[40]

Throughout the 1950s, Nosaka's efforts were challenged by American occupying forces, as part of a broader effort to suppress leftists.[5] In 1949, a Communist-led general railroad strike led to several attempted derailments, and Sadanori Shimoyama, the president of Japanese National Railways, was found lying across a set of train tracks in Tokyo with his arms and legs cut off.[34] These and other incidents of "terrorism" were received poorly by the Japanese public, and cost the JCP most of its popular support.[32] The American commander of occupied Japan, Douglas MacArthur, declined to outlaw the JCP, but held the Party's leaders responsible, and, in June 1950, ejected Nosaka and the other Communist legislators who were elected in 1946.[34] After losing his seat in the Diet, Nosaka disappeared from public life and was forced to work underground.[5]

Nosaka returned to Japan in January 1946, and received a hero's welcome by the JCP. Massey Stanley, a Siberian imprisonment.[33]

After the World War II, Nosaka's return to Japan was facilitated by E. Herbert Norman, the Canadian representative to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, who may also have been a Soviet spy. Before returning to Japan, Nosaka gained Stalin's endorsement for the leadership of the Japanese Communist Party. Nosaka's re-entry to Japan was also aided by the American diplomat John S. Service,[27] who had a history of being friendly to Chinese Communists.[28] Before returning to Japan, Nosaka advised Joseph Stalin to retain the position of the Japanese Emperor, but to replace Emperor Hirohito with Crown Prince Akihito if the Communists ever gained control of Japan.[7] In Aug, 1945, Sanzo Nosaka, under the name Susumu Okano, proposed that the political role of the Emperor should be abolished, but that "we must take a considerate attitude toward the second role played by the emperor." which Nosaka pointed out was the personification on earth of the Japanese god. He went on to say that "We do not favor postwar Japan retaining her emperor. But if a majority of the people warmly demand retaining the emperor, we must make concessions. Therefore, we propose to decide by a people's referendum after the war the problem of dethroning or retaining the emperor."[29]

Sanzo Nosaka speaking to large crowd in Tokyo (ca. 1946)

Japanese political career

In May 1943, Nosaka was the representative of the JCP in the case of the dissolution of the Comintern.[21] In 1944, Nosaka gave his analyses on the state of Japan to western newspapers, including the fall of Hideki Tojo, the new Japanese Cabinet, food shortages in Japan, and peasant uprisings in Japan. He warned that the new cabinet is not a Badoglio Cabinet, and that "Its main purpose is to fight the war as hard as it can, rally the people around national defence slogans, and try to find a way out of a difficult position." He called for the defeat of Japanese militarism.[22] [23] [24] [25] [26]

Nosaka's contributions to the eventual victory of the Red Army were not forgotten by the leaders he had worked with in China. In 1965, on the twentieth anniversary of Japan's defeat, Nosaka was publicly praised by name by the highest-ranking general in China at the time, Lin Biao.[20]

Nosaka's Japanese "prisoner converts" fought freely for the Chinese communists once their re-education was complete. In Yan'an, the Japanese lived normal lives without guards, owned a cooperative store, and printed their own news bulletins and propaganda. Visiting American officers used Nosaka's Japanese soldiers to critique and improve their own methods of anti-Japanese psychological warfare.[18] Shortly after Japan's surrender in 1945, Nosaka began to march with approximately 200 other Japanese Communists across northern China. They arrived at the coast after picking up hundreds of other Japanese along the way. Demanding immediate repatriation from the first Americans they found, they declared their intention to return and work "for the democratization of Japan and the establishment of peace in the Far East". Although there are no records of the exact number of Japanese "re-educated" by Nosaka who elected to remain in Communist-occupied China after 1945, it is estimated that "the number must have been considerable".[19]

Besides Nosaka's regimen of psychological indoctrination, there were several reasons that Japanese POWs chose to join the Chinese communists. Communist guerrillas took care to develop an early rapport with their prisoners by treating them well. Captured Japanese soldiers were generally moved when they learned of the terrible conditions the war inflicted on the Chinese people, a perspective that they had not been exposed to before their capture. Closer to the end of the war, the growing possibility of defeat created anxiety among the Japanese army. Because of the Japanese military's policy to never surrender, Japanese soldiers never received any training about how to act as POWs: upon returning to Japanese ranks, many would face disgrace, punishment, and starvation. Many Japanese soldiers committed suicide after their capture, but those who chose to live generally came to sympathize with the Chinese. The Japanese army was aware of the existence of Nosaka's Communist Japanese soldiers, and feared the phenomena out of proportion to their actual threat.[16] Koji Ariyoshi, an American who met Nosaka in Yan'an wrote that Nosaka was "the Japanese national who undoubtedly contributed the most in the war against Japanese militarism". The Japanese army attempted to use numerous spies and assassins in order to eliminate Nosaka (who used the name "Okano Susumu" for the duration of the war), but were unsuccessful. Nosaka maintained a network of agents throughout Japanese-occupied China, which he used to gather information about events within the Japanese Empire and about the war.[17]

Initially, the Red Army was a purely guerrilla force without the facilities to imprison POWs. The policy of the Eighth Route Army, the main communist force active during World War II, was to interrogate prisoners and then release them. After reports surfaced that the Japanese were punishing Japanese prisoners after they returned, the Red Army's policy gradually changed to one of retraining POWs, and the communists began to implement this policy after Nosaka arrived in Yan'an.[16] By the time of its war with China, the Japanese army was educating its officers and common soldiers to die rather than surrender. Injured soldiers were easily captured, and made up the bulk of Japanese POWs. Captured Japanese believed that they would be killed, but were instead fed and clothed, and began to develop a rapport with their captors.[16]

From March 1940 to the end of 1945, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Nosaka resided at the Chinese Red Army base in Yan'an, in Shaanxi Province, where he headed the Japanese People's Emancipation League (JPEL). The JPEL engaged in the "re-education" of numerous Japanese prisoners of war (POWs) and created propaganda on behalf of the Chinese Communists. Japanese troops captured by the Communists were then used by the Communists in various civilian and military roles, and were especially valued because their level of technical expertise was generally greater than that of most Chinese soldiers. "Re-educated" Japanese troops were instrumental in a number of Communist victories after World War II, including the 1949 Pingjin Campaign, in which most of the artillery fielded by the Communists was manned by Japanese gunners. In general, the method of "re-education" devised and employed by Nosaka was highly effective.[15]

Nosaka (middle) and Mao Zedong (right) at the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of China
Zhou Enlai (right) and Nosaka (left) in Yan'an (ca. 1942)

Activities in China

[3] In 1934, Nosaka secretly traveled to the

One of Nosaka's friends was Kenzo Yamamoto, a legendary Japanese communist who had been in the Soviet Union with his common-law wife, Matsu, since 1928.[10] Yamamoto had a reputation as a great womanizer; and, when rumors circulated that Yamamoto was engaged in an affair with Nosaka's wife, Ryu, Nosaka wrote a confidential letter to the KGB (dated February 22, 1939) indicating that he believed Yamamoto and his wife were likely Japanese spies in the pay of the kempeitai. On Stalin's orders, both Yamamoto and Matsu were arrested as spies. A firing squad executed Yamamoto, and Matsu died in a gulag. Both Yamamoto and his wife were formally rehabilitated after their deaths by Nikita Khrushchev on May 23, 1956, recognizing the lack of any evidence that the two were actually spies.[7] In his autobiography, Nosaka later wrote that he had tried to save Yamamoto's life.[10]

Upon his release, Nosaka secretly returned to the Soviet Union, arriving in Moscow in March 1931.[13] While there, Nosaka served as a representative of the JCP,[9] and worked as an executive member of the Comintern.[5] While in Moscow Nosaka helped to draft the "1932 Thesis", which became the guiding document of the JCP until 1946. Most of his colleagues active in the JCP, who were not able to go abroad, were subsequently arrested by the kempeitai by the fall of 1932.[13][14]

Comintern agent

Because of his activities within the Communist Party (which was illegal in Japan),[11] Nosaka, like many communists in Japan, was arrested (twice in his case),[5] interrogated, and tortured by the Japanese kempeitai, but he was released after short periods both times. Nosaka was first arrested in 1923, and released within a year. After his release, Nosaka became more active within the Japanese labor movement.[9] In March 1928, the Japanese police began a campaign to harass and destroy the JCP,[12] beginning with the May 15 Incident.[9] After his second arrest in 1929, Nosaka spent two years in jail. He was released in 1931 on the grounds of illness.[3] The short lengths of Nosaka's arrests aroused suspicion among other Japanese communists that Nosaka had given important information to the Japanese secret police, but these suspicions were never acted upon.[7]

After attending the Far Eastern People's Conference in the Soviet Union, Nosaka returned to Japan in 1922,[2] and helped found the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) that same year.[10] Nosaka was more secretive about his relationship with the Communist Party than he had been in Britain, and kept his membership a secret from Bunji Suzuki and other moderate labour leaders.[2] After his return, Nosaka worked as a trade unionist and editor of the JCP's official newspaper, Musansha Shimbun.[5]

Nosaka announced his intentions to go abroad to study social theory in the November 1918 issue of Rodo Oyobi Sangyo. He sailed out of Kobe harbor in July 7, 1919, and arrived in London on August 27. After his arrival, Nosaka studied political economy at London University. Like many British intellectuals at the time, Nosaka deepened his studies of Marxism, and became a confirmed communist at the university.[7] While in London Nosaka became active in communist circles. He affiliated himself with notable trade union leaders active in London, and attended the September 8–13, 1919 Glasgow Trade Union Congress as a correspondent for Rodo Oyobi Sangyo.[2] Nosaka was a founding member of the British Communist Party in 1920,[10] and attended the Party's first session as a representative from London. Nosaka's activities within the Communist Party brought him to the attention of Scotland Yard,[2] and Nosaka was deported from Britain in 1921. After he left Britain, Nosaka traveled through Europe to the newly formed Soviet Union. In Russia, with the help of friendly contacts in the communist hierarchy, Nosaka became influential within the Communist Party. Nosaka was suspected of being either a British or Japanese agent; but, because of his contacts among high-ranking Finnish and Russian leaders, Nosaka was never purged.[7]

Nosaka became interested in communism after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.[9] As a greater volume of leftist literature entered Japan from the West, Nosaka's political orientation moved farther from the center. The first Western texts on revolutionary social theory available in Japan were mostly on anarchism, but Nosaka also enjoyed Edward Bellamy's utopian novel, Looking Backward. In 1918-1919 Nosaka read an English copy of The Communist Manifesto brought to Japan by his friend, Shinzo Koizumi. After reading The Communist Manifesto, Nosaka embraced the theories of Marxism.[1]

[8] Sanzo Nosaka was the son of a prosperous Japanese merchant and was raised in a

Early life



  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • Comintern agent 1.2
    • Activities in China 1.3
    • Japanese political career 1.4
    • Scandal 1.5
  • Sanzo Nosaka in the Media 2
  • See also 3
  • Footnotes 4
  • References 5

[7]'s Communist regime.Stalin exposed controversial aspects of his relationship with Soviet Union, and he was widely idolized among left-wing intellectuals until shortly before his death, when the fall of the Keio University In 1958 Nosaka became Chairman of the JCP, a position he held until retirement at the age of 90, after which he was declared Honorary Chairman. Nosaka joined the faculty of [6]

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