Denjiro Kotoku

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kotoku, Denjiro


(literary pseudonym, Shusui). Born Sept. 23, 1871, in Nakamura, the district of Hata, the prefecture of Kochi; died Jan. 24, 1911. Figured in the socialist movement in Japan; publicist.

In 1901, Kotoku and S. Katayama participated in the creation of the first Social Democratic Party in Japan (Shakai Minshuto), which was soon suppressed by the authorities. During 1903–05, Kotoku and other socialists published the newspaper Heimin Shimbun (Commoner’s Newspaper), which played an important role in spreading socialist ideas and in organizing the antiwar movement against the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05). Kotoku was an early translator of the works of K. Marx and F. Engels into Japanese. His book The Essence of Socialism (1903) was an attempt to set forth Marxist doctrine systematically.

As an émigré in the USA in 1905–06, he was exposed to the influence of the anarchosyndicalist figures of the Industrial Workers of the World. Upon his return to Japan, Kotoku denounced reformism in the Japanese socialist movement; however, in doing so, he made anarchosyndicalist errors. In June 1910, Kotoku and 25 of his associates were arrested on the false charge of conspiring against the emperor. Kotoku was executed after a secret judicial process.


Zhukov, E. M. “Predsmertnoe pis’mo Kotoku Dendziro.” In the collection Iz istorii sotsiarno-politicheskikh idei. Moscow, 1955.
Ivanova, G. D. Kotokurevoliutsioner i literator. Moscow, 1959.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.