Comintern Archives: Files of the Communist Party of Japan

Comintern Archives: Files of the Communist Party of Japan

"General Staff of the World Revolution"
The Communist, or Third, International (Comintern) was founded in early 1919 as an international revolutionary proletarian party. For more than a quarter of a century, the Comintern deeply influenced the political life of many countries. The semi-legal and clandestine activities instigated by the Comintern made this federation of about 70 parties in Europe, Asia, and America one of the most cloistered societies of recent centuries. In practice, the Comintern was a Soviet-sponsored agency designed to coordinate the overthrow of the capitalist system worldwide, acting thus as the "General Staff of the World Revolution."

Rumours and myths
As with all such semi-secretive organizations, the Comintern soon became a source of rumors and myths that were perpetuated over the years. For a long time, historians could only speculate on the reality behind these myths, as they had no access to the Central Party archive in Moscow where the Comintern archives were stored. This situation is now changing and new areas of historical research are being opened up.

Top secret
After the Comintern was dissolved in 1943, its archives were transferred to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR, and later to the Central Party Archive of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism. Classified as top secret, the Comintern archives were inaccessible to researchers until late 1991, when the archives were opened to the public. However, even though they are now public, the archives are still difficult for researchers to access. The archives contain 220,00 files (15 linear kilometers of shelving) in almost 90 languages, and are divided into 521 documentary units (files). The Comintern archives contain 55 million pages of original documents from seven Congresses, thirteen ECCI Plenums, and over 70 communist and socialist parties, and other international organizations. The archives cover the whole period during which the organization was active, namely 1919-1943. As a result of the increasing international tension in the 1920s and 1930s, the documents of the communist parties of Germany, Italy, France, and other countries were stored for safekeeping in the Moscow-based archive. Many materials were received directly from the national communist parties or from representatives of the Comintern. Hand-written amendments and other personal corrections made by various figureheads of the communist movement make this material even more valuable.

The Communist Party of Japan
Initially a distinct group within the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA), the CPJ was founded in 1922 and remained an underground organization until the end of WW II. During these years, many CPJ leaders were imprisoned in Japan or fell victim to the 1937-38 purges in the Soviet Union. Today, the CPJ has about 400,000 members and is represented in Japan's upper house of parliament.

The CPJ files
The CPJ files cover the period 1919-1941 and include extensive documentation on the relations between the Soviet Communist Party and its counterparts in Japan, the Far East, Europe, and America. The collection contains, for example, the proceedings of CPJ conferences, the plenums of the Central Committee, and records of local organizations; documents of the Executive Committee of the Comintern (ECCI) and correspondence between the leaders of the CPJ and the ECCI and its Shanghai- and Vladivostok-based Bureaus; materials about the labor history of Japan, trade unions, and youth organizations; and many periodicals and newspapers produced by the CPJ and trade unions.
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