Recollections and reflections

Reminiscences, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai

I first came in contact with Subhas Bose in 1923 at Delhi when the Congress was divided into two groups over the question of what was known as 'Council Entry.'...Subhas Babu, as the favourite lieutenant of Deshabandhu, was playing a prominent part in the controversy. more>>

Broadcast by Singapore Radio

In a speech Mr Subhas Chandra Bose declared, “It was only after Japan took what I consider to be the most momentous step in her history, namely, the declaration of war on Britain and America that I decided to visit Japan of my own free will. Like so many of my countrymen, I did not understand why Japan went to war with China in 1937 andlike so many of my countrymen my sympathies in 1937 and 1938 were with Chungking. What I realised after my visit to Japan and what many people at home do not yet realise is that since the outbreak of the Greater East Asia War, Japan's attitude towards the world in general, and the Asiatic nations in particular, has been completely revolutionised.

It is a change that has overtaken not merely the Government but also the people of Japan. The new consciousness which I may best describe as Asiatic consciousness is reflected in the present attitude towards the Philippines, Burma and India; and it explains Japan's new policy towards China. After my visit to Japan, and after establishing close contact with the present day leaders of that country, I am fully satisfied that Japan's present policy towards Asia is no bluff, but really sincere. After my second visit to Japan in November 1943, I visited the Philippines where I met Philippine leaders there and saw things for myself. I have also been in Burma for a fairly long time and I have been able to see things with my own eyes after the declaration of independence. And, I have been to China to find out if Japan's new policy was real or whether it was a fake. The latest agreement between Japan and the National Government of China has given the Chinese people practically all that they had demanded. Under that agreement Japan has agreed to withdraw her troops from China after the termination of hostilities. What then is Chungking fighting for? Can one believe that Britain and America are helping Chungking China out of purely altruistic motives? Will not Britain and America demand their pound of flesh in return for the help that they are giving to Chungking to make her continue the fight against Japan? I clearly see that Britain and America are taking full advantage of Chungking's past hatred and antagonism towards Japan and the Anglo-Americans have made Chiang Kai-shek mortgage China to them. So long as Japan did not initiate her present policy towards China, there might have been some justification of excuse for the Chinese to seek British and American aid to fight Japan. But now that an entirely new chapter in Sino-Japanese relations has been inaugurated, there is not the slightest excuse for Chungking to continue her meaningless struggle against Japan.

In April, 1943, Mahatma Gandhi said that ifhe were free to do so he would work for an understanding between China and Japan. That was an utterance of rare statesmanship. It is India's slavery that is at the bottom, responsible for the present chaos in China. It is because of the British hold over India that the Anglo-Americans can bluff Chungking into hoping that sufficient help can be brought to Chungking through India to enable Chungking to continue the war against Japan. There is absolutely no doubt that a Free India willwork for peace between Japan and China. I will go so far as to say that the freedom of India will automatically bring about an honourable understanding between Chungking and Japan, opening the eyes of Chungking to the folly that she is now committing. Unfortunately, the Anglo-Americans have been able to deceive the ruling clique in Chungking into believing that if Japan can somehow be defeated then China will become a dominant power in Asia. The fact, however, is that if Japan is defeated by any chance, then China will inevitably pass, under American influence and control and be at the mercy of the Anglo-Americans. That will be a tragedy for China and for the whole of Asia. It is impelled by this false hope of becoming a dominant power in Asia, if Japan could be defeated somehow, that the ruling clique in Chungking has entered into an unholy alliance with the ruling clique at the White House and at Whitehall.

There was a time when people used to say that Japan had selfish intentions regarding India. If this allegation were correct would she have recognised the Provisional Government of Free India? Why should she decide to hand over the Andaman and Nicobar islands to the Provisional Government of Free India? Why should Japan unconditionally help the Indian people in East Asia in their struggle for independence? How much help we will need from Japan till the last Britisher is expelled from the soil of India depends on the amount of cooperation that we receive from our countrymen inside India. Japan will be happy if the Indian people can liberate themselves through their own exertions. It is we who asked for assistance from Japan after declaring war on Britain and US.

I earnestly hope that my countrymen will not even think of compromising with Britain on the issue of independence under the mistaken notion that the Anglo-Americans will win the war. Having travelled round the world under war-time conditions and having seen things with my own eyes, I can vouch for the internal weakness of our enemies on the Indo-Burmese frontier and inside India. Having also taken stock of our strength and resources, I am absolutely confident that we shall win final victory. I know that we have a long and hard struggle in front of us. I am aware that on the soil of India, Britain will fight with determination and tenacity in her desperate attempt to save the empire. But, I know also that however long and hard the struggle may be, there can be but one outcome—total and complete victory for us. India's last war of Independence has begun.”