February 12, 2019 | Jerry Bergman

Happy Darwin Day, Japan: Look What He Did to You


Japanese Genius Racist Masanobu Tsuji

by Jerry Bergman, PhD


The discussion of racism, especially against people of color, has been much in the news lately in America. The contribution Darwinism has made in the West to racism has been well-documented. One recent contribution, a 778-page, small-print book by Leon Zitzer, massively documented, is the most extensive tome ever published on the subject.[1] New research regularly adds to our understanding of the contribution of Darwinian eugenics to the racism problem in history. Just this week I received the latest issue of World War II Magazine with the headline “Genius Racist Zealot Warrior: Japan’s Military ‘God’ Stopped at Nothing to Secure Victory.”[2] The story is about the rise and fall of the important, but often ignored, Col Masanobu Tsuji (1901 – ca. 1961).[3] His influence even after the war was critical. Checking on Amazon, I noted Tsuji authored 17 books. As Goldman notes, he was behind some of the most critical decisions in Japanese policy during WWII, and some of the most abhorrent ones as well.[4]

 In the last century, the Japanese leaders believed they were the “Master Race of Asia,” superior not only to non-Orientals, but also to all people of Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Mongolian, Pacific Islander/Polynesian, and other Asian descent. The fact is race was a critical

part of Japanese ideology during the war. The Japanese saw themselves as the “master race” of Asia, much as Hitler saw the Germans as the “master race” of Europe. As such, they presented themselves as the champions of Asia against European imperialism, but also imposed their own imperialism on the “lesser” Asian peoples, and could be very brutal in doing so.[5] 

American victims and accomplices

Darwinian race ideas played a critical role in Tsuji’s life and his actions during the war, especially his decision to massacre Americans, which he regarded as an inferior race. Goldman describes Tsuji as a “violent racist and mass murderer who escaped prosecution as a war criminal with the help of American authorities,” eventually serving in Japan’s parliament for nine years. Although a “violent racist and mass murderer,” he was very intelligent and conniving until his past caught up with him.[6] He also wanted to drive all white Europeans out of Asia, with the mantra “Asia for Asians.”[7] Although the Japanese, for purposes of war propaganda, claimed to be “liberating Asia for the Asians,” history has proved they were, in fact, enslaving them. Tsuji was also a vehement advocate of war with the United States.[8] His racism was one factor that drove him to want war with America.[9]

Part of Tsuji’s goal was to modernize Asia, with Japan as the guiding force and ultimate power. When in a battle with Japan, if the American and Philippine solders surrendered, Tsuji believed it was morally right to kill them because “Japan was fighting a racial war in the Philippine[s] … and the white colonialists should be killed … [as should the] Filipinos who fought alongside them.”[10] Of course, neither the close to nearly 80,000 American soldiers that surrendered, nor the Filipinos, were colonialists, but soldiers drafted or volunteered to fight for their respective countries. The Japanese’ own accounts now confirm that Tsuji “ordered the killing of American and Filipino prisoners of war and civilians.”[11] Tsuji also helped plan the systematic massacre of thousands of Malayan Chinese who, some thought, might be hostile to Japan.

 An organization called the Black Dragon Society was the face of Japanese nationalism in World War II. The Black Dragons schemed and murdered their way from Japan to China, Korea, and South East Asia in pursuit of the Greater Japan. The Japanese Black Dragon Society was viciously anti-white and racist, openly manifesting “hatred of the Russians, British, French, and Americans,” but it “would be through the work of Colonel Masanobu Tsuji that racism would reach its bloody climax.”[12] Amazingly, Tsuji is honored even today in Japan, as shown by his supporters who erected a statue in honor of him in Kaga City, Japan.

The Introduction of Darwinism into Japan

In the revolution of the late 1800s, Japan was modernized. In the process, that included the introduction of Darwinism to the country. Several Darwinist professors from the United States were invited to lecture on Darwinism in major Japanese universities.[13] Harvard trained Darwinist Edward Morse arrived in Japan in 1887 and stayed for two years. He lectured on evolution at the leading Japanese university, the University of Tokyo, from 1877 to 1879. His lectures were later published in a book titled Animal Evolution. Morse attracted many Japanese who “smoothly accepted the facts and the theory of evolution.”[14] He also “made Darwinism fashionable among the public.”[15]

The “Japanese people readily accepted the concept of evolution because, lacking Christianity, there was no religious opposition.”[16] The objections that did surface mostly “came from Christian communities,” which numbered less than 9,000 persons in the early 1900s.[17] In addition, evolution theory

especially in the form of Social Darwinism developed by Herbert Spencer, was extremely popular in Japan at the turn of the century, as it was in the United States, though Japanese theorists were more inclined to stress the idea of survival of the fittest among nations rather than among individuals.[18]

As a result, historians have “widely believed that Darwinian evolutionary theory is one of the most important contributions … to human thought in general,” a belief largely accepted in Japan.[19] Consequently, Darwinism, including its racist teachings, had a critical influence on Japanese culture and intellectual life.

The “many instruments of indoctrination in Japan” included “the state school, the press, and radio,” all of “which monotonously preach a morbid nationalism and a chauvinism both as potent and poisonous as Nazi racism.” This proved to be a lethal combination that produced the horrors of the second world war in the East.[20] The Japanese also had “contempt for the West and a ‘race hate’ that ‘many Japanese nourish deep down in their viscera.’”[21]

One example that illustrated both the Darwinism theory and the Nazi philosophy, which teaches natural selection of the superior race by elimination of the inferior races, was a pamphlet published in 1934 by the Japanese Imperial Army that described war as “the father of creation and the mother of culture.”[22] Furthermore,

one of the fundamental tenets of the wartime Kyoto School of philosophers and historians was that … War, as … Kyoto Imperial University professors explained it, “is eternal,” and should be recognized as being “creative and constructive.” War was central to the ongoing historical process of “purification of sins”; it was correctly seen as being in itself “a philosophical struggle.”[23]

As a result, after Japan’s

victory in the first Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), Japan joined the imperialist race in East Asia in earnest, but during a time ruled by racial ideology, it could not assert its new position as long as it did not win a war with a Western power. The final confirmation of Japan’s regional position came exactly a decade later when it won the war with Russia—Europe’s most populated nation and the possessor of its largest army.[24]

Although some Japanese social groups were racist before, during, and even after World War II ended, the Japanese military worked the prisoners to death, or allowed them to starve or die from diseases brought on by malnutrition or even torturing the putative “inferior” races. In the end, Japanese racism was responsible for the deaths of millions of Chinese and other Asians, plus many thousands of Allied Prisoners of War.

As the superior race, during World War II Japan believed there was no such thing as “surrender” or “capture” because all Prisoners of War were considered, not only inferior humans, but also traitors to Japan. This is the reason why many thousands of Japanese soldiers committed suicide rather than surrender. They also treated American Prisoners of War cruelly, indiscriminately killing them due to the belief that they were an inferior race. The Americans were also believed to be inferior and weak, less than human for surrendering or allowing themselves to be captured, rather than dying in combat or by suicide. The Asian nations used Darwinian

evolutionary theories to represent the world as a battlefield in which different “races” struggled for survival. But while they appealed to such foreign luminaries as Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer, their understanding of “race” was also informed by their own background. They did not simply copy what they read from these authors, but instead endowed “race” with indigenous meanings.[25]


Darwinism, as was also the case in Nazi Germany, was an important factor, not only facilitating the war, but also in the horrible mistreatment, and at times torture, of the captured. The ongoing study of history has even further confirmed this fact. An example is the story of the Japanese Genius Racist Masanobu Tsuji, who, inspired by scientific racism, masterminded the torture and slaughter of many hundreds of thousands of innocent men.

  • [1] Leon Zitzer. 2016. Darwin’s Racism. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse.
  • [2] Stuart Goldman and Yaroslav Shulatov. World War II Magazine. April 2019. 33(6):30-39.
  • [3] Tsuji is a Japanese surname meaning “crossroads.”
  • [4] Goldman, 2019, p. 30.
  • [5]   https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110226195227AAfbHKm.
  • [6] Goldman, 2019, p. 30.
  • [7] Goldman, 2019, p. 32.
  • [8] Stuart Goldman. “The Forgotten Soviet-Japanese War of 1939.” The Diplomat. August 28, 2012.
  • [9] Chris Brown. Battle Story: Singapore 1942. Spellmount Publishers.
  • [10] Goldman, 2019, p. 35.
  • [11] Goldman, 2019, p. 3.
  • [12] Rodney Carlisle. 2004.  Encyclopedia of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. New York: Routledge. p. 71.
  • [13]Sakura, Osamu. 1998. “Similarities and Varieties: A Brief Sketch on the Reception of Darwinism and Sociobiology in Japan.” Biology and Philosophy, 13:341-357; p. 342.
  • [14] Sakura, 1998, p. 343.
  • [15] Shimao, 1981, p. 93.
  • [16] Sakura, 1998, p. 341.
  • [17] Sakura, 1998, p. 343.
  • [18] Sharon H. Nolte 1987. Liberalism in Modern Japan: Ishibashi Tanzan and His Teachers, 1905-1960. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, p. 44.
  • [19] Sakura, 1998, p. 343.
  • [20] Herbert Norman. 1943. “Militarists in the Japanese State.” Pacific Affairs, 16(4):475-481, December, p. 475.
  • [21] Norman, 1943, p. 475.
  • [22] quoted in, Robert Olson Ballou. 1945. Shinto, The Unconquered Enemy: Japan’s Doctrine of Racial Superiority and World Conquest. New York: The Viking Press, 1945, p. 185.
  • [23]John Dower, 1993. War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War. New York: Pantheon Books, p. 216.
  • [24] Rotem Kowner, and Walter Demel (editors). 2013. Race and Racism in Modern East Asia. Boston, MA: Brill, p. 117.
  • [25] Kowner and Demel, 2013, p. 356.

Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology at several colleges and universities including for over 40 years at Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored, are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more of his articles on CEH, see his Author Profile.

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