‘Proletarian Theatrical Association of Japan’ by Comrade Ishigaki from Workers Theatre. Vol. 2 No. 2. May, 1932.

‘January 1931 at Tennōji Public Auditorium, Osaka. Front row from left: Takeda Rintarō, Tokunaga Sunao, Sata Ineko, Miyamoto Yuriko. Back row from left: Tanabe Kōichirō, Kuroshima Denji, Hasegawa Susumu.
‘Proletarian Theatrical Association of Japan’ by Comrade Ishigaki from Workers Theatre. Vol. 2 No. 2. May, 1932.

Comrades! On the occasion of the first National Workers Theatre conference and spartakiade, the PROT (Proletarian Theatrical Association of Japan) sends its heartiest revolutionary greetings to our comrades of America.

‘The Leftwing Theater group shows Murayama Tomoyoshi’s drama Record of Victory (Shōri no Kiroku) at the Tsukiji Little Theater. May 1931.’

Japanese imperialism, which has gone into Manchuria with swaggering insolence, has now taken possession of Harbin, and also of Shanghai, close to the Chinese Soviets. This means that the provocative military action against the Soviet Union and the imminent threat of a war against the Chinese Soviets by Japanese imperialism and the other imperialistic powers have become of a clearer character.


The Japanese bourgeoisie, which has tried to escape from the world crisis by these imperialistic adventures, is now rushing Japan headlong into a real fascist dictatorship. Therefore the Japanese bourgeois theatre, as well as all other bourgeois culture, the press, the cinema, phonograph records, radio, etc.,. has never so openly exposed its character as a bourgeois class weapons today.

The staging of reactionary, chauvinistic war propaganda plays by prominent theatres all over the country, the compulsory collection of money and presents from the theatre workers for the “consolation” of the soldiers at the front, the contribution of theatre profits also for the ”soldiers at the front,” (with the consequent added exploitation of the theatre workers), the quick change of the popular amusements and entertainments into channels of reactionary and chauvinistic propaganda, the sending of delegations of these entertainers to the front in Manchuria, etc., all these show what is happening to the Japanese bourgeois theatre.

Comrades! In the midst of these stormy waves of reaction, the revolutionary working class of Japan is marching on under the banner of the Communist Party of Japan. It is marching on more persistently and more resolutely than ever in the fight against imperialist war, for the defence of the Soviet Union and the Chinese Soviets, for the establishment of a Soviet Japan, and for the World Revolution. Not only in the essential industries, in the military factories, in the building of barracks, etc., but even in the various parts of the front, the anti-war movement is daringly carried on in face of imprisonment, torture and the firing line; and the power and influence of the Communist Party of Japan and the Zenkyo (Japanese section of the Profintern) is rapidly increasing.

‘Prince Hagen’ by Upton Sinclair presented by the Vanguard Theater Group (Zeneiza) at the Tsukiji Little Theater in Tokyo, 1929.


Comrades! The PROT (Proletarian Theatrical Association of Japan) is holding high the red banner of the Communist Party of Japan in the theatre field. The PROT had its fourth National Congress last October, in accordance with the decision of the KOPFJ (Federation of Proletarian Cultural Organizations of Japan), which had been organized a short time before, in these difficult times.


Thus our organization, which had consisted only of “revolutionary theatres” before the Congress, gathered under its jurisdiction the workers’ and peasants’ groups throughout Japan. The membership of the association, which had amounted to only 300, is increasing daily, and it now has under its jurisdiction the factory “theatre circles” of the main industries throughout the country, including the metal, chemical, press, transport, postal and other industries. In November, 1931, there ,were already 181 such theatre circles.


Our paper, the “Theatre Paper”, which has been established since September, 1931, as a theatrical paper for the masses and appears twice a month, had a circulation of eight thousand within three months, and a local edition of this paper has been established in Osaka, an important industrial center in the western part of Japan. Besides, as recently as January, 1932, the association established its theoretical monthly organ. “Prot.” As its first step in the field of theatrical activity in the Japanese colonies, the association has organized theatrical groups for the Korean Workers in Korea.


In the big cities such as Tokio and Osaka, big performances by the “revolutionary theatres” have been held in large theatres every month, despite the district censorship, the police terror, and the fascist gangsters. The agit-prop groups also carry on their propaganda and agitation among the workers and peasants throughout the country either illegally or semi-illegally.

Tokyo’s Leftwing Theater and the Osaka Battleflag Group (Osaka Senkiza), Maxim Gorky’s The Mother staged by Murayama Tomoyoshi.

We inform you with pride that we are holding our revolutionary post, just as you are in your countries. We realize that our chief task at present lies in winning the majority of the workers on our side, carrying on energetically all our agitation and propaganda activities against war with the Soviet Union and the Chinese Soviets.

Comrades! In view of the International Workers’ Theatre Day as preliminary to the coming first World Congress of the International Dramatic Workers Union and the First Theatre Olympiad in Moscow in August, 1932, we pledge ourselves that we shall always strengthen these fights and stand with you, shoulder to shoulder, for the final victory of the working class.

Fight against imperialist war.

Defend the Soviet Union.

Long live the Chinese Revolution.

Long live the international unity of the workers theatres and the revolutionary theatres of the world.

(Signed) The Central Executive Committee of Proletarian Theatrical Association of Japan.

Workers Theater began in New York City in 1931 as the publication of The Workers Laboratory Theater collective, an agitprop group associated with Workers International Relief, becoming the League of Workers Theaters, section of the International Union of Revolutionary Theater of the Comintern. The rough production values of the first years were replaced by a color magazine as it became primarily associated with the New Theater. It contains a wealth of left cultural history and ideas. Published roughly monthly were Workers Theater from April 1931-July/Aug 1933, New Theater from Sept/Oct 1933-November 1937, New Theater and Film from April and March of 1937, (only two issues).

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/workers-theatre/v2n2-may-1932-Workers-Theatre-NYPL-mfilm.pdf

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