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Book Review: The 200-Year Untold History of Russo-Japanese Relations (KGB Aleksey Kirichenko)

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

For my Russian friends

FILE PHOTO: The 200-Year Untold History of Russo-Japanese Relations (2013) ©Gendaishichoshinsya
PHOTO: The 200-Year Untold History of Russo-Japanese Relations ©Gendaishicho

Author: Aleksey Kirichenko / Кириченко Алексей Алексеевич (ex-KGB colonel, Russian, 1936-2019)

ISBN: 978-4-329-00486-4 (RU)

Japanese: 知られざる日露の二百年

ISBN:4329004860 / 978-4329004864 (JP)

Russia and Japan shouldn't be divided.

Aleksey Kirichenko, KGB (1936-2019) was more like a researcher, analyst than being a case officer of KGB(1954-1991).

His conclusion was that the most difficult obstacle between Russia and Japan still is ''Japanese prisoners of war in the Soviet Union'' not the Kuril Islands dispute due to emotional involvement, tragic memories and trauma of families of 560,000 to 760,000 war prisoners. Moreover, approximately 60,000 to 347,000 POWs died in Soviet labour camps.

Aleksey Kirichenko wrote:

Historical incidents between the two nations were interpreted differently by each other thus it's necessary to review details of those incidents in order to improve Russo-Japanese relations. (1)

Not only this is the core spirit ''anti-historical revisionism'' of the entire book, but also it's the correct strategic direction of diplomacy of both countries even under the new Cold War (2018-) between China and USA of today.

This book is composed by eight chapters, incidents covered from 1600s (seventeenth century) until the end of Soviet Union (1991).

Chapter 1 - Russia Meets The Japanese From 1600s to mid 1800s

Surprisingly some Russian historian tells us that some Kiev Russian aristocrats had certain knowledge about Japanese in 1100s. However real face-to-face contact between Russians and Japanese people was first recorded in 1600s.

''An sich'' phase of the two nations' history begun from Kamchatka Peninsula, Aleutian Islands and Kuril Islands. And its synthesis will be reached in the same region with JP-RU peace treaty and real independence of Japan from the ''Cold War'' narrative.

Indeed, admitting both Kamchatka Peninsula and Kuril Islands as Russian territories is must in practice for Japan. In other words, admitting imperial Japan lost WW2 (1939-1945), embracing its defeat in order to achieve permanent peace with neighbours.

At the era, tempests frequently hit Japanese ships, and many Japanese fishermen were salvaged by Russian pioneers in the Russian Far East region. This was the beginning of contact. For instance, the legendary tale of Pyotr I Alekseevich (1672-1725) and Japanese castaway Dembei (1670-1714) is the best example (Dembei was brought to Moscow for establishing the first Japanese language school in 1701).

FILE PHOTO: Maurice Benyovszky (1746-86) ©Wikimedia / Public Domain
Maurice Benyovszky (1746-86) Image: Public Domain

Ex-Russian prisoner, a Hungarian military officer Maurice Benyovszky (1746-86) escaped from Kamchatka prison, then landed in Nagasaki, Japan in 1771. Then he warned Japanese people about ''Russian threat'' by a letter. It's completely unknown for Japanese teachers and students of today. The Hungarian fugitive Maurice Benyovszky's allegation is seen as the first third party attempt to divide Russia and Japan in the world history.

FILE PHOTO: Adam Laxman (1766-1806) ©Wikimedia / Public Domain
Adam Laxman (1766-1806) Image: Public Domain

Russian merchants thought Japan as the best market to expand their trade business after they successfully gained Alaska, Aleutian Islands and Russian America (1799 to 1867).

For instance,

Catherine the Great (1729-96) assigned Adam Laxman (1766-1806) a lieutenant in the imperial Russian military to Nemuro, Hokkaido to establish bilateral relations between Russia and Japan. In fact, Russia followed Dutch to become known by Japanese people. As the result, Edo government (1603-1868) allowed Russia to dock at Hakodate port for negotiations. However Laxman did not successfully establish any trade relations at the end.

FILE PHOTO: Nikolai Rezanov (1764-1807) ©Wikimedia / Public Domain
Nikolai Rezanov (1764-1807) Image: Public Domain

Later foundation of The Russian-American Company, RAC (a.k.a. RAK) which protected by Pavel Petrovich Romanov (1754-1801) changed the situation dramatically in 1799. The representative of RAC, Nikolai Rezanov (1764-1807) was a colonial officer who needed Japan as an external base to stably supply food to Russian Colonies like Alaska and Russian America. Thus his main duty was to officially establish the first diplomatic relations with Japan as an ambassador. His effort was failed due to the "closed country" policy by Edo government and Dutch conspiracy. Furthermore, Nikolai Rezanov and his Russian delegates had been jailed in Nagasaki since September 26, 1804 to April 6, 1805.

The failure changed his attitude toward Japan tragically and made him more aggressive against Japan that he thought forcible measures were exclusively necessary to conquer Japanese in 1806. His secret order to frigate Juno and sailing ship Avos was seen as the origin of Japanese suspicion against Russians.

Lieutenant Nikolai Khvostov (1776-1809) received the order to open Japan to the world militarily. Thus Matthew C. Perry (1794-1858) 's black ships were not the first attempt of this kind.

For correctly understanding this incident, what we must know about this historical phase is that Russians already recognised and inhabited in both Sakhalin and Kuril Islands as their own territories.

During 1806-7, two Russian pirates took military actions in near border with north Japan which critically worsened Russo-Japan relations as the earliest bilateral interactions.

One was above-mentioned sublieutenant Nikolai Khvostov (Никола́й Алекса́ндрович Хвосто́в; 1776—1809) who robbed and torched Japanese villages in Sakhalin in the name of ''saving Ainu people'' in October 1806; the other one was second sublieutenant Davidov who attacked a Japanese village with Khvostov in Iturup (which is one of Kuril Islands) in May, June 1807.

As the result, the two Russian pirates' assaults on Japanese villages in north instigated Japan's centuries of ''Russophobia'' and prejudice about Russia in general.

Vasily M. Golovnin (1776-1831) Image: Public Domain
Vasily M. Golovnin (1776-1831) Image: Public Domain

Nevertheless, there was some positive figure like Vasily Mikhailovich Golovnin (1776-1831) who is still mentioned at schools for his Diana's voyage around the world and mapping of Kuril Islands.

Although he was taken prisoner for violating ''Sakoku'' in 1811, he successfully persuaded people of Japan that Tsar did not order Khvostov and Davidov to invade Japan. Their acts of pirates were solely done as individuals.

Fortunately, Golovnin's diary during his captivity in Japan was broadly published in 1816 and 1817. Even Japanese translation is still available (日本幽囚記』; ISBN-13 : 978-4003342114).

Chapter 2 - Russia-Japan Relations in the Late 19th Century

FILE PHOTO: Yevfimiy Putyatin (1803-1883) ©Wikimedia / Public Domain
Yevfimiy Putyatin (1803-1883) Image: Public Domain

After Matthew C. Perry (1794-1858) 's black ships militarily forced Japan to abandon its Sakoku policy in 1854, then Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between Japan and Russia (Treaty of Shimoda) signed by both countries on February 7, 1855. Since then Japan and Russia has established diplomatic relations formally. People must know that post war Japan's designation of this day as ''North Territory Day'' (1981-) is sheer spiteful obstinacy against Russia in order to appease US master and far rights.

Undoubtedly, Admiral Yevfimiy Putyatin (1803-1883) made the unequal treaty, for instance the article VIII defines ''mutual extraterritoriality for citizens of Russia and of Japan in each other's country.'' Extraterritoriality itself is an essential element of being an unequal treaty while certain power balance doesn't exist for any of its side. At that time, Russia wanted dominating foreign relations of Japan by suggesting Japan to abandon other foreign treaties.

Whatever it is, later Russia and Japan relations positively developed unexpectedly. The most famous treaty between Russian Empire and Imperial Japan is Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1875) that exchanged entire Sakhalin (Russia got) and whole group of Kuril Islands (Japan gained) bilaterally.

The year 1896 was critically important for preparing Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) because the ambitious imperialist country Japan could not forgive Russia, Germany and France that they forced Japan to abandon the Liaodong Peninsula and Port Arthur (both territories in south-eastern Manchuria, a Chinese province) which Japan won from the result of the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895). And Russia made China their own protectorate by signing Li–Lobanov Treaty (1896).

In 1898, Russia further aggressively had rented the Liaodong Peninsula for twenty-five years. As the result, anti-Russian competitors US and UK urged Japan to fight Russia during 1904-5, it successfully stopped Russian expansionist policy in East Asia, signed Treaty of Portsmouth, Japan successfully gained control of Korean Peninsula with southern half of Sakhalin, rent of South Manchuria Railway and the Liaodong Peninsula. It also further became the geopolitical springboard for Japan's expansion into China, prepared the World War 2 (1939-45).

Aleksey Kirichenko also mentioned Jewish capitalists who escaped pogrom in Russia supported Japan on this war. From today's political perspective, who mostly wanted and benefited itself from the war between Russia and Japan? It's obviously US and UK.

Mikhail V. Alekseyev (1857-1918)  Image: Public Domain
Mikhail V. Alekseyev (1857-1918) Image: Public Domain

Mikhail Vasilyevich Alekseyev (1857-1918), an Imperial Russian Army general is rarely mentioned in Japanese historical course at schools but he's the mastermind behind deterioration between Russia and Japan because not only he's the one forced Japan to return war benefits, he also urged Russian Empire to declare war with Japan. Furthermore, he had sabotaged military efforts of the Russian Imperial Minister of War Aleksey Kuropatkin (1848-1925) who was not eager to engage in a war with Japan until 1904.

One positive thing must be mentioned about the war is that all war prisoners of both warring camps were humanly treated respectively. And they were released in 1906 peacefully. It's seen as the last war in which all war prisoners treated humanly.

And then returners participated in the failed Russian Revolution during 1905-7. US-trained Jewish revolutionaries propagated Russian war prisoners in Japanese war prisons. Their leftist agitation was enormously successful and prepared the October Revolution (1917).

Japanese conspiracy theories on the Russian revolutions were perfectly denied by the author that Japan did not establish any political department team to train Russian prisoners politically, what Japan actually did was deliberate negligence on agitations of exiled Russian leftist revolutionaries. Japanese authorities just simply did not prevent their activities. Thus political agitation was solely done by exiled Russian leftist revolutionaries themselves without any instruction from the ruling class of Japan.

Russel Sudzilovskii (1850-1930) Image: Public Domain
Russel Sudzilovskii (1850-1930) Image: Public Domain

Among them, the most important leftist figure is a Narodnik revolutionary Nikolai Konstantinovich ''Russel'' Sudzilovskii (1850-1930) who was Russian American, an acquaintance of Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Frederic Engels (1820-1895), a member of the upper house in Hawaii.

He had moved to Kobe, Japan to propagate Russian war prisoners with revolutionary thought and planned to send forty thousand revolutionised soldiers to Siberia. Although his plan was sabotaged by a secret agent of Tsar in SL party, those successful returners made huge contributions to the failed Russian Revolution during 1905-7.

Today his presence was totally ignored by leftists in East Asia, however his contribution to the Russian revolutions actually proved that a revolution is a collective action not solely done by several notable leaders. Indeed, there are totally unnoticed contributors behind the scenes. Historical study is to put light on them fairly.

The author also wrote about World War One (1914-1918) from both Russia-Japan sides and provided unique insight into the big war. Japan took neutral position but Japan freely engaged in imperialist activities in Korea and China while Russians had depended on Japanese arsenals during the war.

Surprisingly volunteers from Korea and Japan wanted to join Imperial Russian Army to fight European enemies. Japanese and Koreans were pro-Russia in the World War One. This historical fact is completely excluded from any text books at present.

The secret extradition treaty of 1912 between Russia and Japan was to eliminate Russian dissidents for Russian side; in return, the initiator Japan wanted to forcibly migrate troublesome Koreans to Siberia. Before Stalin (1879-1953)'s forced migration of Koreans and dissidents in 1930s, Japan actually invented the horrible measure.

Fortunately Imperial Russia rejected Japan's unlawful requirement because those Koreans did not commit any crimes in Russia. This lawful attitude of Russia is still seen on the Snowden (1983-)'s fortune in Russia.

Sergei Sazonov (1860–1927) Image: Public Domain
Sergei Sazonov (1860–1927) Image: Public Domain

The Japan-Russia military treaty of 1916 was ruined by the Russian revolutions of 1917. It's one of negative effects of the great October Revolution in terms of Russia-Japan relations as both countries diplomatically reached the best conditions to form a military alliance. It could have changed the power balance in East Asia thus both US and UK tried to ruin it by supporting Russian revolutionaries who exiled mainly in US.

The best moment was July 16, 1916 when Japanese Ambassador to Russia Motono Ichirō (1862–1918) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov (1860–1927) signed the document to establish a military alliance between two nations.

Objectively it's politically good for Russia and Japan. The treaty was finally abolished when the legendary leftist leader V.I. Lenin (1870-1924) exposed the secret military treaty in December 1917.

The author introduced some important Japanese intelligence officers during Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) in this chapter. Such as army general Yasumasa Fukushima (1852-1919) who realised Russia couldn't send military forces from sea to Far East at that time of his research; a career officer of imperial navy Takeo Hirose (1868-1904) studied Russian formerly at Russian university for five years; Motonirou Akashi (1864-1919) was frequently referred by anti-Soviet conspiracy theorists but he was correctly assessed by Soviet professional intelligence officers. First of all, Akashi was unable to speak Russian, he did not understand Russian thus he had no ability to conduct any intelligence activities in Russia. This was fatal as any kind of intelligence officer. During his two year-stay in Russia, he mainly relied on superficial official information / narrative which could easily got from conversations with western diplomats at reception.

The most interesting thing is that the author pointed out that Akashi did funnel certain amount of money to ''Russian revolutionaries'' however they were just representatives of Georgian, Polish, Finnish nationalists who did not take part in the 1905 Russian Revolution, moreover they didn't belong to any particular parties.

Hikosaburō Hata (1882-1959) was a Japanese field officer who assigned to Russia, later he became Chief of Staff, Kwantung Army since April 1945. He wasn't ignorant that he knew Soviet red army was stronger than Kwantung Army thus he tried to organise guerrilla units against the red army.

Chapter 3 - Japanese intervention in Siberia (1918-1922)

FILE PHOTO: Snowy mountains. Russia, Siberia, Altai mountains  ©Envato / oxygen2608
FILE PHOTO: Snowy mountains. Russia, Siberia, Altai mountains ©Envato / oxygen2608

According to the author, Japan made two major strategic mistakes on the Russian civil war while Japan did not identify ''enemies'' clearly.

One strategic mistake was its neutrality between Tsarist army and Bolsheviks that Japan declared neutral position from the beginning of the interventionist war against Bolsheviks. As the result, Japan could not conduct full scale of aggression against Bolsheviks, they just fought Bolshevik-controlled partisans limitedly. The other major mistake was that Japan only thought its national interests and ambiguously supported self-proclaimed separatist ''Cossacks captains'' as future puppet regime candidates instead of supporting the most powerful white army figure Alexander Kolchak (1874-1920)'s Provisional All-Russian Government of Omsk (1918).

The US role behind withdrawal of Imperial Japanese army from the Russian Civil War is still not referred by any school textbooks.

In 1920, after Japan-France-UK plot to let Pyotr Wrangel (1878-1928)'s army to fight Bolsheviks in Far East Siberia was suspended, even Japanese withdrawal from Russia was also required by US because Bolsheviks exploited conflicts of interests among interventionists. US saw growing popularity of Japan among Russian separatists as a bigger threat than Bolsheviks.

Furthermore Bolsheviks promised US the most favourable state treatment which was never fulfilled later. ''Japan-Russia alliance'' is like ''Japan-controlled China'', totally unacceptable for US hegemony.

Instead, US preferred Bolshevik-controlled ''weaker Russia'' to smoothly expand its influences globally. In fact, US made a similar strategic ''mistake'' during the Chinese civil war (1945-49).

Chapter 4 - Soviet Union and Japan on the Verge of War (1925-1945)

FILE PHOTO: Russian Soviet Red Army Armoured Soviet Scout Car In Autumn Count  ©Envato / Grigory_bruev
FILE PHOTO: Russian Soviet Red Army Armoured Soviet Scout Car In Autumn Count ©Envato / Grigory_bruev

Soviet and Japan finally established their diplomatic relations in 1925 after the end of Japan's intervention in Siberia with Soviet–Japanese Basic Convention in Beijing, China. Fortunately, Japan did not engage in a protracted war with Soviet during the civil war.

Then, Soviet founded JCP in 1922 as Bolsheviks' Japanese branch via Comintern (the 3rd international; 1919-1943). It's no secret that JCP was controlled by politburo for decades. They have been a century of opposition party and never gained power.

Their most successful revolutionary ''attempt'' ever was so called ''2.1 general strike'' in 1947. February 1, 1947 was the day Japan was on the verge of the leftist revolution however the labour aristocrat leader Yoshirou Ii (1905-1971) betrayed the uprising when Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) forced him to break it.

In short, their attempt was failed due to the presence of US occupational forces and labour aristocracy.

Also it proved that Mao Zedong (1893-1976) 's prediction of revolutionary circumstances in post war Japan was partially and temporarily right. It actually had the conditions for it.

The forged document ''Tanaka Memorial'' - the alleged author was prime minister Tanaka Giichi (1864-1929) in which he reported a strategy for Japan's world dominance - was broadly published via mainstream newspapers worldwide in 1927. Joseph Stalin (1879-1953) and Soviet intelligence officers knew that document was totally fake during International Military Tribunal for the Far East (1946). Whatever it is, they successfully persuaded US to do not expose it.

Battle of Lake Khasan (1938) was considered as a Soviet conspiracy while Japan wasn't ready to fight it based on the analysis of the author. And it was turned out to be a Soviet victory. On the contrary, Japan still wrongly thinks it's even.

Then, Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) broke out, Sino-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact was signed on August 21, 1937. As the result, Soviet provided weapons, advisors and 3,665 volunteers to China for fighting against Japanese invaders. Soviet Russia and Japan had been in undeclared war since then.

Politically Battles of Khalkhin Gol (1939) wasn't instigated by any Japanese frontline base for invading Soviet because 23rd Division was composed by untrained newcomers to military operations. Moreover the battle was started by Mongolian aggression on the disputed territory. On the contrary, Japan had a clear map to scientifically define border between Manchuria and Mongol along Khalkhin Gol.

Nevertheless, Mongol did not have any map on its territory and simply declared sovereignty on Khalkhin Gol. Thus Japanese military analysis on the result of the failed battle is still missing intelligence on both sides. Clearly Japan wasn't ready for the war thus the author logically denied any conspiracy theory which indicates Japanese provocation.

There is one thing must be mentioned on this battle. The rumour of Soviet sovkhoz established in central Asia for Japanese war prisoners of Battles of Khalkhin Gol (1939) is groundless fabrication.

At such moments, Kuomintang (1912-) welcomed both Battle of Lake Khasan (1938) and Battles of Khalkhin Gol (1939) in the hope of triggering a full scale of war between Soviet and Japan as they later wanted a war between US and Japan. Fortunately, Japan was wise to make peace with Soviet Russia while Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) was estimated as a protracted war.

Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact (April 13, 1941) became a gift for Stalin because it gave him the only and best condition to counter Nazi invasion. Moreover Soviet did not have any intention to invade Japan in 1941. Besides Attack on Pearl Harbor(1941), this pact was another major strategic mistake made by Japan at the time. To be terrifying, Soviet State Defense Committee had planned a war against Japan despite the pact since May 1943 and perfectly estimated the D-Day ''August 1945.''

However Japan also violated the pact overtly and covertly during 1941 to 1943. For instance, Japan sank Soviet vessels (some of them were sunk by US), obstructed US cargo ships to Soviet Union, provided military intelligence to allied Nazi Germany. In the sense, Soviet relied on Lend-Lease Acts (1941-45). That's why Soviet only diplomatically complained against Japan.

Finally Soviet Union officially decided a war with Japan at Stalin's internal meeting on August 16, 1944. Hence the pact was just a dead letter already.


Chapter 5 - Japanese Intelligence Activities and Soviet Spy Scandals

Cornel Kazuo Mike (1883-1973) received the structurally important instruction on intelligence activities from his boss Hanzo Kanaya (1873-1933).

For them, intelligence only meant preparation of war. The tactic of Japanese intelligence agencies is still classical. Exploiting minorities in a targeted nation for war time. Especially separatists. It can be even seen on today's anti-China campaigns which including colour revolutions.

Japanese intelligence officers were ordered to analyse relations and interactions between republics and the USSR's central government in order to exploit their conflicts for the upcoming war. Surprisingly Japan selected Islamist separatists as the best co-operators on its anti-Soviet operations before US.

Even more, Trotsky (1879-1940) and Trotskyists were Japanese agents? There is an answer in this book. Lieutenant General, Iwane Matsui (1878-1948) monitored exiled Trotsky and Trotskyists to use them for anti-Soviet intelligence operations. In fact, Trotsky and Trotskyists frequently contacted with foreign entities at that time. However it doesn't mean they were actual foreign agents.

Aleksey Kirichenko wrote about the Japanese intelligence:

The most important thing for intelligence is ''where to focus'' with gained intelligence and accurate evaluation of the Soviet situation.

Japanese military intelligence agency holistically researched advantages and disadvantages of Soviet, and their officers discussed about possible D-Day and progress of war preparation of Soviet Union.

However they were just intelligence providers not decision makers. Decision making is still done by Tokyo. (2)

Like today's Japanese intelligence officers, more specifically, officers of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, they mainly supported Islamist separatists. Moreover they not only cultivated such kind of Islamist separatists in Soviet, but also they conducted this cultivating campaign beyond Soviet. Such as Poland, Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan and Latvia etc.. Japanese intelligence was right that ethical and religious conflicts were decisive factors to collapse Soviet. Their aim was to create chaos and conflicts in a targeted nation.

Basically Japan's war strategy was similar with Chiang Kai-shek (1887 – 1975) that they wanted to exploit conflicts among powerful nations to weaken and defeat the enemies. For instance, Japan was highly conscious about being unable to directly win powerful USSR, thus they wanted to let UK and Soviet kill each other while anti-Soviet encirclement was seen as the best strategy.

Indeed, Japanese intelligence saw the biggest disadvantages of Soviet were destabilised people and separatism of ethnical minorities. The same goes for today's China, especially in politically disputed regions. The method of indirect sabotage was learned from their anti-China operations of 1920s. In the cases, Japan supported war lords during Warlord Era (1916-1928). Once separatist ethnic minorities become 'agents' of foreign intelligence agencies, their contact is made through the employers multilaterally. This rule is still unchanged.

The most important point in this chapter is that Japan's real motive of war against Soviet was to control Russian Far East and Eastern Siberia not ''anti-communism''.

Chapter 6 - 5 Days of Manchurian Blitzkrieg (1945)

Unlike the official narrative of the Japan side, major turning points of the failed World War Two (1939-1945) were Battle of Midway (1942) and Battle of Guadalcanal (1942-1943). The Japanese momentum during the war was completely killed in the two failed battles. On the contrary, Battle of Tarawa (November 20-23, 1943) is seen as the official end of Japanese offensive during the war by right wing revisionists. Because,

Chester W. Nimitz (1885-1966) said:

The capture of Tarawa knocked down the front door to the Japanese defenses in the Central Pacific. (3)

Aleksey Kirichenko more accurately thought Battle of Midway (1942) and Battle of Guadalcanal (1942-1943) as points of no return for imperial Japan. It's free from historical revisionism and individual views on the war tide. Japan had lost the war when it completely lost the ability to win after the two major catastrophes.

However the worst strategical mistake of Japan was made by Japanese Marshal Admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), Isoroku Yamamoto (1884-1943) because his reckless Attack on Pearl Harbor (1941) helped Stalin to fight against Hitler's army without hesitation, and the US entry to the war dramatically relieved burdens of Soviet Union.

Soviet defeated Nazis in Battle of Moscow (September 30, 1941- April 20, 1942) because they could allocate 22 divisions from Far East to the western front of Soviet since July 1941 to June 1942. Indeed, Kwantung Army (1919-1945) was not a threat for them during that period. Moreover, 40 divisions of Far Eastern Red Army only existed during the war in 1945. Anyway, Nazis were doomed to the total defeat when they lost the battle of Moscow in 1942.

Politically, Manchuria was just a puppet nation which was totally controlled by Kwantung Army (1919-1945). And it was heaven for Japanese and Soviet spies while many white army organisations existed in it. In recent years, Japanese scholars pointed out that endlessly dispatching military units to different war fronts caused fatal defeats on military campaigns elsewhere. For instance, the core military force, Kwantung Army (1919-1945) was symbolically and gradually split into pieces since October 1943 to March 1944 after inauguration of colonel Teigo Kusachi (1904-2001) in August 1943.

The author also pointed out that there are two major historical mistakes. One is that unlike US or Russian historians thought, both Soviet invasion of Manchuria and atomic bombs were not critical damages to Japan's surrender because Japan was already almost breathless. It did not need to nuke or invade Japan for the purpose. The other mistake is that US made room for Soviet invasion of Northern Japan which had lasted until September 5, 1945 by not immediately holding the ceremony for Japanese Instrument of Surrender after August 15, 1945.

Chapter 7 - Japanese War Prisoners in Soviet Russia

''Japanese prisoners of war in the Soviet Union'' are still the worst obstruction of peaceful and friendly relations of Russia and Japan. The territorial dispute on the Kuril Islands is not the worst one because the former is still an emotional stigma. Among all allied countries, only Soviet Union under Stalinists violated Potsdam Declaration, especially the ninth article.

The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives. (4)

More than 520,000 Japanese war prisoners fraudulently moved into Soviet prisons, such as prisons in Siberia and Far East. About 62,000 people died due to unsanitary conditions of prisons, cold weather and forced labour during September 1945 and December 1956.

Unfortunately, both Russia and Japan can't tell the exact number of ''Japanese prisoners of war in the Soviet Union'' until now. According to Soviet archive, it's 660,000 people, later published as 594,000 people. And ten percent of them had died, then seven hundred people buried in Georgia; Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan; Kazakhstan and Ukraine. In 1956, Soviet Union under Nikita Kroutchev (1894-1971) handed out records of 3,957 deceased Japanese war prisoners. Finally, Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev (1931-) provided Japan a list of 38,000 deceased Japanese war prisoners. Furthermore, Soviet government allowed their bereaved families to visit their graves and bring more than 17,000 bones of the deceased back to Japan as the result of Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1991.

Ultimately, the cost of forced labour of ''Japanese prisoners of war in the Soviet Union'' exceeded what they totally produced. Thus, Stalin's slave system was sheer violation of Marxist values.

There is one thing is still positive that interactions between more than 500,000 Japanese war prisoners in Soviet and Russians changed view of Russians on Japanese people entirely. They found that Japanese people are not ''brutal samurai'' depicted in anti-Japanese propaganda but they are all the same human beings as Russians themselves.

Chapter 8 - Aftermath of Manchurian Blitzkrieg (1945)

We are totally brainwashed by some Chinese historical revisionists about war profiteering from Japanese legacies. Undoubtedly Soviet Russia had provided CPC Japanese weapons which they gained as the result of Manchurian Blitzkrieg in order to fight against Kuomintang. Moreover, Soviet Union sent advisors and experts to the CPC side to strengthen PLA in 1947. Even military plans of CPC were made by Soviet officials in Khabarovsk and Vladivostok.

In fact, Soviet Union had helped both Kuomintang and CPC during 1937 and 1939 in order to fight Japan. However not only Chinese did not support Soviet Russia when Nazis invaded them, they also stopped fighting against Japan and allowed Japan to expand to south smoothly, furthermore there was no Chinese force to fight Japan in Manchuria with Soviet Union. Hence, Soviet contributions to China are still undermined by Chinese scholars while they wrongly deny Soviet sacrifices and astonishing military aid to China during the war.

The most important thing about Manchuria is that Manchuria had never belonged to China before Stalin gave it to China after 1949. Unlike Chinese scholars falsely claimed, Soviet Union only moved Japanese equipment, facilities to Soviet as war benefits which did not include buildings, railroads and roads created by Japanese in Manchuria. China gained all of these.


Japan and Russia have been systematically divided since The Treaty of San Francisco of 1951 mainly by US imperialists like John Foster Dulles (1888-1959) and Henry Kissinger (1923-) as part of Cold War strategy. As the result, Nikita Kroutchev (1894-1971) abandoned his promise on Kuril Islands unwisely, Japan itself also made grave mistakes, such as the reckless requirement of return of the four islands (Shikotan, Habomai Islets/Khabomai, Kunashiri/Kunashir and Etorofu/Iturup).

Unlike Japanese agitators depicted, Japanese fishermen of Hokkaido are real beneficiaries of the status quo as explained by the author due to the Russia's special treatment on Japanese fishermen in the region. Many important historical details are untold in books, at our schools and on media.

What Japanese of the 21st century must to do is to admit the failure of the war and straggle to win genuine independence from US imperialism and domestic war criminal ruling class simultaneously.

Although Japan and Russia formally ended war status by signing the joint declaration of 1956, it still needs to thoroughly solve ''Japanese prisoners of war in the Soviet Union''.

Hence ''Kuril Islands dispute'' is a fake thesis. In other words, it is only reflection of Japan's client state status. A propaganda device to divide Japan and Russia. For understanding this, we just need to read the eighth article of Potsdam Declaration accepted by Japan:

The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine. (5)

Signing of the peace treaty will be a symbol of Japan's independence from US imperialism.

In Memory of Aleksey Kirichenko (1936-2019)

FILE PHOTO: View of the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia  ©Envato / saoirse2010
FILE PHOTO: View of the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia ©Envato / saoirse2010


1.Aleksey Kirichenko, The 200-Year Untold History of Russo-Japanese Relations, Gendaishichoshinsya, 2013. P.10.

2.Ibid. P.101

3.Alexander, Joseph, Col. USMC (Ret) (1993). Across the Reef: The Marine Assault of Tarawa, Potsdam Declaration, July 26, 1945.



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