NICOLE KALI

HOME INTRODUCTION SITE INDEX

W.E.B. DUBOIS IN ASIA

W.E.B. DuBois understood the global impact of a Third World Revolution. He was a connected thinker, fully knowledgeable in the links between Africa and Asia.

"The Negro problem in America is but a local phase of the world's problem."


DuBois wrote and gave lectures on anti-imperialism, colonialism, African history, and the necessity for true democracy. He stressed how important economic, racial and political justice remained for the "colored people of the world".

 

There was "a certain bond between the colored peoples because of world-wide prejudice. While in Japan, DuBois was received as a noted scholar. He was an honored guest of Mao Zedong in China too.

 

Imperial Japan and DuBois had a particularly interesting symbiosis. He studied their growing power in politics, and was impressed by Japanese resistance to Western influence.

"In the Nineteenth century Japan saved the world from slavery to Europe. In the Twentieth century she is called to save the world from the slavery to capital." (Pro-Japanese Utterances)

African-Americans had a strong sense of duty and racial kinship to the Japanese, who showed them far more respect than the Allies ever did.

Since 1929, Japan had reached out to the Black community.


W. E. B. Du Bois with Japanese professors in Tokyo. Matsuyama (Parliament), DuBois and Miyake Kiichi at the Pan-Pacific Club luncheon.

The Black scholar even kept up correspondence with scientist-professor Miyake. He wished to be informed on any Japanese research on race anthropology for his "Encyclopedia of the Negro".

The nation's freedom presented an ongoing battle against white dominance in Asia. DuBois was not alone in his vision for colored peace through Japanese liberation.

A larger picture had yet to be developed, one of Afro-Asian internationalism. It inspired many who met DuBois on his journey.

 
W. E. B. Du Bois and Shigeyoshi Sakabe in Japan, 1936

"What it [your visit] meant to me personally, you'll never know. The hope of some of us Japanese youths for world peace is what young America will think and do...if they fail us, we may all be lost."

But there was growing tension between the prominent Asian powers. Manchuria had been annexed by Japan after Russia's Port Harbor defeat.

"Clearly this colonial effort of a colored nation is something to watch and know," DuBois wrote for the Pittsburgh Courier. (Newspaper Columns, vol. 1 pg. 167-8)

But then, DuBois would also "brush aside as immaterial the question as to whether Manchukuo is an independent state or a colony of Japan."


W. E. B. Du Bois with Japanese scholars in Tokyo, 1936

W.E.B. DuBois had a perception of Japan that stands as problematic and in support of their less admirable actions. Japan had become a colonizing power of its own.

"colonial enterprise by a colored nation need not imply the caste, exploitation and subjection which it has always implied in the case of white Europe."

He saw no other options for them, a small island nation that needed more resources to industralize against Europeans.

By 1940 Taiwan, parts of Korea and Manchukuo were under Japanese, not Western military control.

"It is to escape annihilation and subjection and the nameless slavery of Western Europe that Japan has gone into a horrible and bloody carnage with her own cousin." (Newspaper Columns, pg. 174). And this was a fair point.

 


Bandung Conference, 1955. DuBois could not attend but Nkrumah, Muhammad Ali (Pakistan) and 29 non-aligned nations did.

Which alliances and terms of government were formed then, plus after? What formulative influences did W.E.B. DuBois + Bandung have on later Non-Aligned Movements and the Africa-Asia Alliance?


Further Reading

The Deep Roots of Afro-Asia (AAIHS, 1-30-15)

Africans and African-Americans in China (BlackPast)

Pro-Japanese Utterances of W.E.B. DuBois (Reginald Kearney, Contributions to Black Studies, 1995)