Down with the Imperialist Trade War between Japan and South Korea!



Down with all chauvinist boycott campaigns! Class War instead of Trade War!


Joint Statement of the Revolutionary Communists of South Korea and the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 19 July 2019,








1.             A new trade war is looming between two imperialist powers in Asia – Japan and South Korea. Last year, the South Korean Supreme Court ruled that Nippon Steel, Japan’s largest steelmaker, is obliged to pay nearly $90,000 to a surviving worker, and to the families of three other Koreans forced into labor during World War II. Other judgments against Japanese companies for forced labor claims have followed, and more cases are in South Korean courts. Tokyo rejects these claims and threatens to launch a trade war against South Korea. On July 1, citing supposed “national security concerns”, it placed restrictions on exports to South Korea of three chemical materials crucial for the manufacture of semiconductors and screens used in smartphones and televisions. Since Korean corporations like Samsung, SK Hynix and LG Display – which are major players in the global technology industry – rely heavily on these materials, this could have dramatic consequences. Furthermore, Japan considers removing South Korea from a list of the country’s preferred trading partners, which would require Japanese firms to obtain additional export verifications on hundreds of products before selling them to Korean companies. In response, initiatives have been launched in South Korea to boycott Japanese commodities.


2.             There can be no doubt that Korean citizens (and their families) who survived the Japan’s barbaric regime of forced labor and sex slavery imposed during World War II have a right of compensation. However, it is also evident that these legitimate claims are only a pretext for the escalation of rivalry between the two countries. If the South Korean state would have been seriously interested in getting compensation for its citizens why is it acting only now – nearly 75 years after these tragic events took place? The reason is obvious: in the decades after World War II, South Korea and Japan were closely bound together as politically subordinated allies of U.S. imperialism in the Cold War. In the past as well as today, the legitimate interests of the Korean citizens have been subordinated to the political goals of the ruling class!


3.             However, today we are living in a different historic period marked by the decay of capitalism and the resulting acceleration of rivalry between the imperialist powers. Russia and, in particular, China have emerged as new Great Powers which are challenging the hegemony of U.S. imperialism. As a result, we are witnessing a Global Trade War and military threats between Washington and Beijing, accelerating tensions between the U.S. and the EU, between the U.S. and India, a massive military intervention of Moscow in Syria, etc. The looming trade war between Japan and South Korea is another example of the same fundamental dynamic of capitalist decay and imperialist rivalry.


4.             Japan is a long-standing imperialist power which played already a central role in global politics before World War II. Economically, it is one of the strongest imperialist powers behind the U.S. and China. Consequently, authentic Marxists recognize the imperialist character of Japan and stand in fundamental opposition to it. Hence, we strongly denounce the Stalinist Japanese Communist Party which defends since many decades “Japan’s sovereignty” against the U.S. as well as all of Japan’s territorial claims against Russia, China and South Korea. No doubt, the JCP is not a communist but a social-imperialist party!


5.             South Korea’s capitalism has been transformed into a junior imperialist state more recently. Nevertheless, while the U.S. continues to play an influential role in South Korean politics, the South Korean chaebols have joined the league of global leading monopolies and participate in the super-exploitation of numerous semi-colonial countries. Despite a population of only 51 million people, South Korea’s economy is the fourth-largest in Asia and the 11th largest in the world. Its Per Capita Gross Domestic Product is close to the level of Italy. In the ranking of the biggest monopolies in the world, South Korea is No.5 (Forbes Global 2000) respectively No.7 (Fortune Global 500). There can be no doubt that South Korea has become an imperialist nation. Hence, we strongly denounce the Stalinists who claim that the South Korea is still an “oppressed” country and that socialists should fight for its “national liberation”. In an imperialist country like South Korea, “national liberation” means nothing but social-patriotic support for the domestic imperialist monopoly bourgeoisie!


6.             The Revolutionary Communists of South Korea and the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) call socialists in South Korea and Japan as well as internationally to unite in denouncing the looming trade war between Tokyo and Seoul. We oppose all forms of chauvinism and boycott campaigns. Such reactionary campaigns only serve to subordinate the workers behind the ruling class. We call for international unity of the workers of South Korea, Japan and globally. We stand for the Leninist program of revolutionary defeatism which is based on the principle “The main enemy is at home!


* Down with the imperialist trade war between Japan and South Korea!


* No to chauvinism and boycott campaigns! For internationalist unity of the South Korean and Japanese workers!


* Internationalist workers unity instead of nationalist unity with the bosses!


* Class War instead of Trade War!




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We refer readers to the following documents:


Korea: There Is No Peace Without Overthrowing Imperialism and the Rule of Capital! Peace through the Proletarian Socialist Revolution! Joint Statement of the Revolutionary Communists of South Korea and the RCIT, 8 March 2019, [The Korean-language version of the statement can be read here:; See also]


Global Trade War: No to Great Power Jingoism in West and East! Neither Imperialist Globalization nor Imperialist Protectionism! For International Solidarity and Joint Struggle of the Working Class and Oppressed People! 4 July 2018,


See also the collection of statements and articles on the Global Trade War here:


홍수천: 한반도 전쟁 위기와 · 제국주의 패권 쟁투 (Hong Su-Cheon: War Crisis on the Korean Peninsula and the Rivaly between US and Chinese Imperialism, Article in Korean language, Spring 2019),


홍수천: 시기 격화하고 있는 제국주의 패권쟁투와 사회주의자의 임무 (Hong Su-Cheon: The Acceleration of the Great Power Rivalry in the Present Period and the Task of Socialists in Korea, Article in Korean language, March 2019),


Michael Pröbsting: The Korean Peninsula: Imperialist Aggression, Capitalist Restoration and Revolutionary Defensism (Chapter VI. in World Perspectives 2018: A World Pregnant with Wars and Popular Uprisings),