The Russian Revolution of 1917 did not have the same meaning in Asia as it did in Europe or Russia itself, and it meant something different in Japan than in the rest of Asia on account of the fact that Japan was not a colonized country but a colonizer.After the failed Siberian Intervention, the Japanese government had to negotiate with the actual authority in Russia, the Bolshevik government, rather than with the impotent anti-communist forces, in order to protect Japan’s interests in the Russian Far East, north Manchuria and Inner Mongolia. The period between 1922 and 1925 was characterized by a gradual shift of attitude on the part of Japanese decision-makers to accept recognition of the revolutionary regime and its radical ideology. The change was completed in January 1925 with the conclusion of the Soviet-Japanese treaty, which, in effect, divided East Asia into Soviet and Japanese sphere of influence. Pro-Russian influential groups led by one of the most influential statesmen of modern Japan Gotō Shinpei agitated for a Soviet-Japanese cooperation, and even for the creation of an Eurasian bloc, to resist the Anglo-American world order that was undermining, it was perceived, Japan’s and by extension Asia’s well-being.
Tatiana Linkhoeva is Assistant Professor of Japanese History at New York University. She received a PhD in modern Japanese history from University of California at Berkeley in 2014. Her forthcoming book, Revolution Goes East. Imperial Japan and Soviet Communismwill be published by Cornell University Press in 2019.