Katayama, Sen

(1859–1933)
   Born as Sugataro Yabuki into a family which for many generations had been a leading family of his village, Sen Katayama spent one year at what is now the Education Department of Okayama University then traveling to the United States in 1884 where he washed dishes while attending university and later graduate school where he obtained degrees in sociology and theology. He became a Christian and put his efforts into the labor movement, playing a major role in the establishment of Japan’s first labor union. In 1901 he participated in the formation of Japan’s first socialist party, the Social Democratic Party of Japan, which was immediately banned. In 1906 he joined in the formation of the Japanese Socialist Party but he was soon in conflict with his fellow founding members. As a result of his leadership of the 1911 Tokyo City electric strike, he was arrested and jailed.
   In 1914 after being released from prison Sen Katayama went into exile in the United States where he became a Marxist as a result of the Russian revolution in 1917 and put his energies into the establishment of the American and the Mexican Communist Parties. In 1921 he traveled to the Soviet Union to become a top official in the Communist International. From there, he directed the formation of the Japanese Communist Party. He died in Moscow on 5 November 1933 where his funeral on 9 November was attended by 150,000 people. His coffin was carried by 14 people including Josef Stalin and Sanzo Nosaka, future leader of the Japanese Communist Party. He was buried within the Kremlin.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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