Japanese Communist Party Chair Kazuo Shii delivered a speech on July 11 at an assembly held in Tokyo to celebrate the 96th anniversary of the founding of the JCP. Below is the full text of his speech.
JCP Program becomes more interesting – demonstrating its vitality during times of upheaval
Chair, Japanese Communist Party
July 11, 2018
Good evening, everyone. I am Kazuo Shii of the Japanese Communist Party. Thank you very much for participating in this commemorative assembly.
JCP calls for every possible means to support victims of heavy rainfall disaster
First of all, I would like to express my sincere condolences and heartfelt sympathy to the victims of the recent disaster triggered by torrential rains in western Japan.
On the day before yesterday, the leaders of six opposition parties, including the JCP, visited the prime minister’s office and urged the government to give top priority to disaster response. Again, the JCP demands that the government employ every possible means to support those affected, including to those involved in rescue efforts and health support during the heat wave.
The JCP has begun recruiting volunteers and raising funds to offer assistance and relief. With determination to make all-out efforts, we call for cooperation from around the country.
Revised JCP Program shows its vitality during times of upheaval
Now, turning to the situations both at home and abroad, we can see a growing upheaval accompanied by hopeful changes. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government’s appropriation of national politics and its rule with an iron fist is the worst we have ever seen. In the meantime, despite twists and turns, an alliance against the misgovernment has been developing between concerned citizens and opposition parties. Turning our eyes overseas, through the historic inter-Korean and US-North Korea summits, a significant move toward peace is taking place on the Korean Peninsula. What I would like to talk about today is the fact that the Program of the JCP displays its great vitality during this period of upheaval.
The JCP Program was revised at the 23rd Party Congress held in January 2004. Before that, its draft revision was proposed at the 7th Central Committee Plenum in June 2003, exactly 15 years ago.
Today, on the subject of “The JCP Program becomes more interesting”, I would like to talk about the Program’s vitality from four angles.
1st angle: Compass for reforming Japan by radically changing LDP politics
Firstly, the JCP Program has been playing a role as a compass to reform Japan by drastically changing the politics of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
The Abe government, tainted with various scandals and allegations of corruption, has been in a terminal condition in terms of both internal and foreign affairs. This is not caused just by PM Abe’s exceptional personality.
The LDP itself, which supports the Abe government, is in a terminal condition. At the root of this lie two distortions of Japanese society as the JCP Program points out.
‘Extraordinary subordination to the United States’ – the reality of Okinawa
One of the two distortions is “Japan’s extraordinary subordination to the United States”. As an example, let’s take a look at Okinawa.
In December 2017, US military helicopters stationed in Okinawa accidentally dropped parts, including a heavy window frame, onto the premises of a nursery school and an elementary school. The two schools adjoin the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Okinawa’s Ginowan City. When I visited the schools in February this year, I felt a chill go down my spine hearing that those parts almost fell on children.
After the accidents, the US forces announced that their aircraft will avoid flying over schools in the city “as much as possible”.
Six months have passed since the accidents, but the situation remains unchanged. Every time a US military aircraft approaches local schools, watchers from the Okinawa Defense Bureau direct children in the schoolyards to rush into the nearest school buildings. The number of such evacuations totals 635 between February 13, when the two schools resumed using the schoolyards, and June 28. And it has reached up to 29 times in one day. An Okinawan local daily, Ryukyu-shimpo, reported on June 13: “It happened when third-grade children of the elementary school began a warm-up exercise during P.E. ‘Run!’ A Defense Bureau watcher, standing at a corner of the playground, shouted over a loudspeaker. On hearing this, all the children made a dash for the school building. Soon after that, a CH-53E helicopter, the same type that dropped its window frame half a year ago, flew directly over the playground. We could get a close look at the helicopter, almost right overhead. The same thing as this was repeated twice more during the 45-minute class, and children lost concentration in the end. The head of the elementary school said, ‘A class cannot continue if it is interrupted three times.’ This harsh reality brought his words home.”
This report reminds us of air-raid warnings during World War II. Today, it is hard to imagine for schoolchildren to take shelter during class. No matter how many times US aircraft cause accidents, they soon resume flights as if nothing happened. On top of that, the Japanese government always accepts the resumption obediently. Under this situation, how can we call Japan a sovereign country? What the Abe government should do is not issue evacuation directives but urge the US military to put an immediate halt to flight training exercises.
It was in 1996 that Tokyo and Washington agreed on the return of the Futenma base land and property to Okinawa. Why has the base, which even Washington recognized to be the “most dangerous in the world”, remained there for 22 years? It is because the deal was reached on condition that the Futenma base is “relocated” within Okinawa. This reality shows that the government policy obedient to the US has come to a total deadlock.
Wherever the USMC base is relocated in Okinawa, including the Henoko coastal district in Nago City, it will adversely affect local residents. There is no option but to close and remove the Futenma base. We will never accept the construction of a new US base in Henoko. This is the Okinawan consensus represented by the position taken by the All Okinawa Council.
I strongly demand that the Japanese government negotiate with its US counterpart in accordance with this consensus.
Okinawa’s US base issue calls the state of Japan into question – historical lessons from the Philippines
The issue of US bases in Okinawa calls the present state of Japan into question.
In the Philippines, a new constitution was established in 1987 after the People Power toppled President Ferdinand Marcos’ despotic regime. In 1991, based on the constitution, the Upper House of the Philippines rejected a bill to ratify the treaty for an extension of the use of US military facilities in the country. The following year, the Subic Naval Base and the Clark Air Base, the two largest US bases in Asia, were removed.
When rejecting the ratification bill, the Upper House also approved a resolution stating that the US bases infringe on the Philippines’ sovereignty, perpetuate its subordination, and therefore are incompatible with the new constitution. After their removal, disgusting problems pertaining to US bases, including crimes and accidents caused by the American forces, were eliminated and economic prosperity was brought to the locals.
Although US warships are still allowed to call at ports in the Philippines, in light of the constitution, it is no longer possible to establish a huge military facility there. Thus, even if it is a demand made by a superpower, removing unconstitutional foreign military facilities is only natural for an independent sovereign state.
The extraterritorial privileges granted to the US military in Japan are unprecedented in the world. The reality of US bases in Japan, including those in Okinawa, shows that they violate pacifism, fundamental human rights, democracy, and local autonomy, all of which are guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution. I would like to emphasize that what is needed now is to seek for an Okinawa and Japan free of military bases.
‘Capitalism without rules’ undermines companies and society overall as well as workers’ health and safety
The other distortion is the existence of “capitalism without rules”. Japan’s regulations to protect people’s lives and rights are quite insufficient. On top of that, there is a move to ease and even abolish existing regulations.
Last month, the Abe administration and the governing parties rammed through the Diet a package of work-style reform bills, including the measure for a “high-level professionals” system (dubbed a “zero-overtime-pay” system). Ignoring warnings from bereaved families of those who had died from overwork that such bills will definitely drive more workers into death from overwork, the ruling forces railroaded the package through. However, our fight is not over yet. Let’s launch a movement to prevent the “zero-overtime-pay” system from being implemented and abolish it.
Under the guise of creating “growth” and a “strong economy”, successive LDP governments have repeatedly eased labor regulations. As a result, a large number of low-wage non-regular workers, including temporary employees, have been created. While allowing unpaid overwork to prevail in society, they have increasingly encouraged long hours of overtime work by introducing the “discretionary work” and “high-level professionals” systems.
Such “disposable” working practices have brought about more overwork-related deaths and suicides, as well as mental illnesses. Not only workers’ lives and health but also companies, the economy, and society as we know it are on the verge of collapse. The LDP politics have reached a deadlock in this respect as well.
Business leaders begin to acknowledge their policy as ‘failure’
What is noteworthy now is the fact that leaders of the business community, who had previously promoted the “disposable” working practices, began to acknowledge their mistakes. I would like to cite statements made by two business leaders.
Yoshihiko Miyauchi is the senior chairman of ORIX Corporation who had served as chair of the government’s Regulatory Reform Council for more than 10 years. In an interview with the Asahi Shimbun (carried on December 17, 2017), he said: “In the Heisei period (from 1989 to the present), afflicted with an economic slowdown, we were confronted with this question – ‘For whom do companies exist?’ The principle of capitalism is that business people should serve stockholders. I had insisted that this principle would bring wealth to society most effectively, saying, ‘The improvement of business performance should be given top priority.’ But I have changed my mind since. Although US companies have outstanding earning power, the widening gap between the rich and the poor has created a rift in American society. Healing the rift costs too much. In the last five years, I have asked myself repeatedly, ‘Is this kind of capitalism right?’ A business can be managed soundly by making good use of workers, materials, and money. However, unlike materials and money, workers must be treated with consideration. First of all, economic activities should serve people. Some may criticize me for reversing my previous stance, but people’s minds would also change with the times. We should pursue a society more focused on equitable distribution in the coming years.”
When Miyauchi served as chair of the Regulatory Reform Council, the organization advised the government to ease restrictions on the permitted period of contracts for temporary workers, expand the discretionary work system, and introduce the so-called white-collar exemption (zero-overtime-pay) system. All these recommendations coincide with the changes the Abe government recently forced onto the labor legislation. But now, the then chair of the advisory body has clearly acknowledged that he made a mistake.
Takeo Naruse is an ex-director of the former Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations (Nikkeiren) who compiled a report in 1995 entitled “Japanese-style Management for a New Era”. The report is notorious for openly calling for replacement of regular workers with non-regular contingent workers. In a recent newspaper article (carried by the Asahi Shimbun on November 5, 2017), however, Naruse said: “We have annually conducted a follow-up survey since this report was published. Each time, I was embarrassed by the increase in the rate of non-regular workers.”
Probably, what he meant is that the rapid increase in non-regular workers exceeded his expectations. I was surprised by his following statement. Naruse said: “If Nikkeiren still existed, it would put forward a proposal to give non-regular employees regular positions.”
Faced with the current terrible situation, leading business persons said, “I have changed my mind.” At last, they were forced to admit that their labor policy has failed.
Nevertheless, the Abe government is still pursuing this wrong path. We can no longer have them steer Japan’s economy.
We pursue a society where everyone lives a decent life by working no more than eight hours a day. We demand a government serving 99% of the people, not the richest 1%. Let’s fight together to promote a drastic change in economic policy and an economy governed by rules.
Correct two distortions to create democratic Japan where people become key players
These two distortions in Japanese society have reached their breaking point. In order to save Japan, as the JCP Program points out, it is vital to overcome the two distortions and create a truly democratic Japan where the people become key players. In addition, I want to emphasize that the JCP Program – our compass pointing to a bright future for Japan – enables us to fight for the sake of the people no matter how complicated the situation may be. I express my determination to keep fighting, based on this Program, to build an independent, democratic, and peaceful Japan which truly serves the public interest.
2nd angle: Firm foundation for citizens-opposition party alliance
Secondly, the JCP Program works as a firm foundation to promote the alliance between concerned citizens and opposition parties.
Promoting citizens-opposition party alliance is the only way to change politics
On September 19, 2015, the day the national security laws (the war laws) were forcibly enacted, the JCP called for forming a “national coalition government” to abolish the unconstitutional war legislation, taking a dramatic step forward toward forging a nationwide alliance between concerned citizens and opposition parties.
It is nearly three years since then. In spite of various difficulties as well as twists and turns, the alliance that came into being has produced positive results.
In the 2016 Upper House election, the citizens-opposition party alliance fielded joint candidates in all 32 single-seat constituencies nationwide and won in 11 of them. In 28 of the 32 constituencies, the numbers of votes obtained by the joint candidates exceeded the total votes polled for the four opposition parties under the proportional representation system. This clearly shows the increased effectiveness of the alliance.
When the opposition alliance was suddenly faced with the danger of breaking down just before the 2017 general election, the JCP worked together with concerned citizens to strengthen cooperation. In that process, the JCP decided to withdraw its own candidates in 67 single-seat constituencies across the country, which helped the opposition alliance increase its seats as a whole. The alliance’s unified candidates were elected in 32 of 83 single-member districts in which the JCP refrained from running its candidates. In 63 single-seat districts, the numbers of votes obtained by unified candidates exceeded the total votes garnered by the three main opposition parties, including the JCP.
In 2018, our joint struggle has made significant progress in the Diet. The opposition parties’ united efforts led to revealing the falsified data used in preparing the bill to expand the discretionary work system. The Abe government was forced to remove sections related to the discretionary work system from the package of work-style reform bills. As for the Moritomo and Kake Gakuen scandals, the alliance’s joint efforts led to the summoning of those involved to the Diet as witnesses, and made the Abe government admit that it had faked and covered up the relevant official documents and had intentionally given false answers in Diet deliberations.
Promoting the opposition alliance is the only way to change the direction of politics. This is a fact ascertained by our three-year struggle.
By working together with civil society organizations and other opposition parties, we have developed a relationship of trust and respect on a nationwide scale. With certainty, I want to stress that these ties of solidarity are our most valuable assets.
Abolish war legislation and rebuild Japanese society
Then, how can we further develop our joint struggle? With regard to this, I would like to mention three points.
First is to reaffirm that at the top of the agenda of the citizens-opposition party alliance is the need to abolish the unconstitutional national security legislation and restore constitutionalism.
Seikei University Professor Emeritus Takashi Kato, a professor when PM Abe was a student at the university, harshly criticized the prime minister in an Akahata interview published on July 3. He said: “Mr. Abe does know nothing about history. He is not ashamed of being called a liar. And he lacks the ethical decency to resign by taking responsibility for his own scandals. What word can describe contemporary Japan most appropriately? I think it is illegitimacy. Illegitimacy is prevailing in today’s Japan.” This is a trenchant criticism of Abe’s rule.
Why has Japan’s politics degenerated so much? At the root is the destruction of constitutionalism with the enactment of the national security legislation. With this, the Abe Cabinet unilaterally changed the long-standing constitutional interpretation that the war-renouncing Article 9 bans the use of the right to collective self-defense. Compared to such an unreasonable constitutional reinterpretation, it is much easier for them to falsify the official documents to cover up the Moritomo scandal. PM Abe seems to feel no pang of conscience in regard to his appropriating national politics to the detriment of the general public.
The forcible enactment of the national security legislation has not only threatened Japan’s peace but also brought about a collapse of political morality.
I would like to say from the bottom of my heart, “Let’s work together to abolish the war legislation and rebuild Japanese society from the bottom up.
PM Abe’s rule has inflicted considerable damage to Japanese society for five and a half years. We need to rebuild people’s lives, peace, and democracy – all undermined under the Abe regime.
Forge ‘serious alliance’ for 2019 Upper House election
Second is to form a “serious alliance” in all 32 single-seat constituencies in next year’s Upper House election.
It is especially important to build a full-scale and mutually supportive alliance. In the last two national elections – the 2016 Upper House election and the 2017 general election – the JCP voluntarily withdrew its candidates in many single-seat districts across the country. We did so in 2016 to lead the newborn opposition alliance to success and in 2017 to foil a plot to destroy the alliance. I believe that our decisions were appropriate and in the interest of Japan’s democracy.
In the meantime, we have adopted a policy of aiming to develop the opposition alliance into a more mutually supportive one for the 2019 Upper House election.
We believe this is vital to build a more powerful opposition alliance. We need to make mutual concessions and offer mutual support. Then, every party in the alliance will be able to gain more seats. By doing so, concerned citizens and opposition parties will be able to exercise their potential and win significant victories by countering the fierce attacks by the ruling forces.
Also, holding frank talks with one another will make the alliance’s common agenda more attractive and it will pave the way for opposition parties to reach an agreement on forming a coalition government.
I call for forging a serious alliance for the coming Upper House election and overthrowing the Abe government by achieving a victory of both the JCP and the opposition alliance.
Open up new vista of alliance development
Third is to respond to public demands and address urgent issues in a unified manner.
What I have realized in the last three years is that the citizens-opposition party alliance does not proceed as anticipated or planned. Tackling urgent problems together will enhance a relationship of trust and open up a new vista for progress. The period of the past three years has been a continuing process of such trials.
Even though each opposition party has its own view in regard to the constitution, they all agree not to allow a revision of the pacifist constitution under the Abe regime. PM Abe, who has no intent to observe the constitution, has no right to discuss the constitutional issue. Based on this common ground, let’s work together to achieve a goal of collecting 30 million signatures opposing Abe’s attempt to change Article 9 of the constitution, and bring about an end to his rule.
In March this year, four opposition parties, including the JCP, jointly submitted to the Diet a bill for seeking a zero-nuclear power society. It is a reasonable measure to stop operating nuclear reactors and not to allow idled reactors to be reactivated. It was hard for the opposition forces to reach an agreement on the nuclear power issue, but we have finally succeeded in raising a common banner on this issue as well. In a bid to enact this epoch-making bill, we need to work to expand grass-roots campaigns nationwide.
In Okinawa, the people’s fight against the construction of a US base in Henoko has entered a crucial stage. If we can again win in the upcoming Okinawa gubernatorial election, it will be absolutely impossible to continue with the construction of the Henoko base. In addition to strengthening the solidarity of the All Okinawa Council, I call for concerned citizens across the nation and other opposition parties to join and support Okinawans’ anti-US base movements.
JCP’s consistency comes from its policy of seeking majority-supported revolution
It makes me happy when I hear that “the JCP is remarkably consistent in promoting joint struggles.” Our consistency originates in the JCP Program as well.
The Program does not call for transforming Japanese society by the JCP alone. Our overall strategy is to change society through the power of cooperation – forming a united front that goes beyond differences in thoughts and beliefs.
At the root of this policy lies the basic idea of seeking gradual development of society and a revolution backed by the majority of the public. Human society develops in a step-by-step manner while carrying out people’s wishes. Each step to be taken should be based on the will of the majority expressed in election results. The process of social development is like climbing stairs, not taking an elevator. Through such a process, people will become more confident about their power to change society and will go ahead with reform while widening the circle of trust and solidarity. This is the essence of the “majority-supported revolution” presented in the JCP Program.
Based on the JCP Program, we are resolved to make every effort to strongly promote the opposition alliance to create a new Japan.
3rd angle: Guidelines for JCP’s ‘peace diplomacy’ in 21st century
Thirdly, the JCP Program offers a reliable guideline on how to perceive the world in the 21st century and how to pursue its concept of “peace diplomacy”.
US-North Korea summit leads to freeing world from imminent threat of nuclear war
Currently, a tidal wave of peace is rising on the Korean Peninsula.
On April 27, the inter-Korean summit took place and issued the Panmunjom Declaration calling for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula and “declaring an end to the (Korean) War” during this year. On June 12, the first-ever summit was held between the heads of the US and North Korea. The two leaders agreed on “the establishment of new US-DPRK relations, the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, and complete denuclearization”.
The JCP heartily welcomes these two historic summits and the peace process that has been initiated.
I know there are various arguments in regard to the US-North Korea summit, but what is most important is the fact that the summit meeting changed bilateral relations from deep hostility to dialogue and opened the door to free the world from the threat of nuclear war.
Former US Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris, recently appointed as ambassador to South Korea, said on June 14 at the confirmation hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “We were in a different place in 2017...if war wasn’t imminent, it was likely.” He added, “Today, following the summit, we are in a dramatically different place…or the first time in my career we’re in a place where peace is a possibility. We can be hopeful.”
This statement, made by the US commander who had been in charge of military operations against the North, is very persuasive.
Looking back on last year, the heated exchanges of military threats between Washington and Pyongyang created a highly volatile situation. But now, the situation has changed completely.
Following the US-North Korea summit, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had worked hard for the success of the meeting, said, “I think what’s most important is that the people of the world, including those in the United States, Japan and both Koreas, have all been able to escape the threat of war.” This is to the point.
There are still some negative or skeptical arguments concerning the US-North Korea summit. However, what is needed now is to grasp the historic significance of the two summits and work together to help the peace process bear fruit.
JCP’s efforts contribute to creating the peace process
How has the JCP responded to the North Korea issue?
Since last year, this issue has become the focus of international politics. While strongly opposing the North’s development of nuclear weapons, the JCP has consistently called for a peaceful resolution through dialogue to prevent a catastrophic war. Based on this stance, we have frequently expressed our views and worked on having an influence on the actions of countries concerned.
In February 2017, US President Donald Trump announced that he would review the Obama administration’s “strategic patience” policy toward North Korea: the US will hold no negotiations with North Korea until Pyongyang shows intention and takes action for denuclearization. Although the announcement was a noteworthy move, it was unclear whether Trump’s “review” was oriented toward dialogue or military attack. When I attended a public debate aired by NHK around that time, I insisted that military options must be ruled out and that Washington should urge on Pyongyang denuclearization through diplomatic negotiations.
However, military tensions between the two countries increased and reached a peak last summer. Concerned about a possible military clash due to a miscalculation or an accidental incident, the JCP released a statement in August 2017 urging the US and North Korea to hold direct talks without any conditions.
It was the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February that marked a major turning point. I took part in the opening ceremony as a member of the Japan-South Korea Parliamentarians’ Union. The cold of minus 10 degrees chilled us to the bone, but the venue was filled with excitement. When North and South Korean athletes came in led by the Korean Unification Flag, spectators gave them a standing ovation. I was moved very much by Koreans’ strong wish for peace and unification.
The Pyeongchang Olympic Games created an atmosphere for a peaceful resolution through dialogue. Looking at this new situation, the JCP on April 6 requested the governments of the six parties – the US, North and South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia – to seize this opportunity. We called on them to promote both the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the building of a peace regime in Northeast Asia in an integrated and phased manner.
After that, the situation developed in the direction that the JCP had called for. On the other hand, PM Abe obstinately kept pushing for “maximum pressure” on the North, claiming that “holding dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless”. I am certain that the JCP’s reasonable call for peace contributed to creating the ongoing peace process.
Success of the peace process will foil Abe’s attempt to change Japan into a war-fighting nation
The peace process has just been initiated and it has a long way to go to achieve success. It will also face various difficulties and go through twists and turns. Again, we call on the countries concerned to make serious, continuous efforts to implement the agreements.
Now let’s think about what will happen if this process achieves success. It will definitely mark a major turning point in world history. The regional situation will completely change as well. What was considered a threat will disappear, and the hostility which existed will change into friendship. I think this vision has already begun to affect Japan’s situation.
The Abe government has exploited the threat of North Korea as a pretext to turn Japan into a nation capable of waging war. By raising fears of the North, the Abe government enacted the national security legislation, moved ahead with an unprecedented arms buildup and the construction of a state-of-the-art US base in Okinawa, and aims to revise Article 9 of the constitution.
I want you to recall the press conference in May 2014 when PM Abe stressed the need to exercise the right to collective self-defense. Pointing to an illustration of a Japanese mother with a baby who is trying to escape from a war zone on a US vessel, he said, “Under Japan’s present conditions, we cannot defend the US vessel carrying Japanese nationals. Do you think this is OK?”
With that, they forced the national security bills through the Diet.
But if the ongoing peace process is successful, PM Abe will run out of excuses for turning Japan into a war-fighting nation. This may be disappointing to Abe, but encouraging to the general public.
What Japan needs to do now is not turn itself into a war-capable nation. As a Northeast Asian nation which has the war-renouncing Article 9 in its constitution, Japan should demonstrate diplomatic initiative in creating a peace structure in the region.
Vision for the Initiative for Peace and Cooperation in Northeast Asia and abrogation of Japan-US Security Treaty
Now I would like to look to the future.
If the peace process makes progress and the US-North Korea and inter-Korean relations improve, the next challenge will be how to build a peace structure – a multilateral security mechanism – in Northeast Asia.
As for this challenge, the JCP made a proposal at its 26th Party Congress in 2014; the Initiative for Peace and Cooperation in Northeast Asia.
Over the years, we have learned a lot from ASEAN countries’ diplomatic accomplishments. We have been amazed by their wisdom and practice of peace diplomacy. By concluding the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), ASEAN established a principle of resolving any disputes through dialogue and has put it into practice.
In the JCP Initiative, we call for the six parties to enter into a Northeast Asian-version of TAC and build a regional structure for peace, cooperation, and prosperity.
We believe that our vision will come true as the ongoing peace process advances. Let’s work together to turn Northeast Asia into a peaceful region free from the threat of war.
Such developments in the situation will also open up a new vista in Japan’s future. The presence of the US forces in Japan will be called into question as well.
The Japan-US Security Treaty has its origin in the Korean War which broke out in 1950. During the war, the US military used the whole of Japan as its forward base of operations for logistics and making attacks on North Korea. The Japan-US Security Treaty was concluded in 1951 so that the US could continue to use the whole of Japan as its forward base without restriction.
Article 6 of the current security treaty enables the US to station its forces in Japan “for the purpose of contributing to the security of Japan and the maintenance of international peace and security in the Far East”. Actually, the US forces in Japan have been sent to areas beyond the Far East, such as Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. But still the treaty’s public purpose is to maintain “peace and security in the Far East”.
What will happen if peace is brought about in the Far East? What will happen if the six parties enter into a treaty like TAC and Northeast Asia becomes a peaceful region as a whole? Does Japan really need the bilateral military pact and US forces any longer? These questions will definitely be raised.
If the initiated peace process makes progress, it will create an opportunity to abrogate the Japan-US Security Treaty in accordance with a national consensus and build a truly independent country. With this exciting perspective, let’s work to help the peace process bear fruit without delay.
People’s power seeking world peace creates change
There is another question to think about. How has this wave of peace come about?
Is it because the two odd leaders, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, happened to get along well? It is not enough to explain the present situation. I believe that this historic peace initiative has been created by people’s power opposing war and seeking peace.
There is no denying that the South Korean government led by Moon Jae-in has played a crucial role in creating a move toward peace. Its diplomatic initiatives are worthy of praise.
How has the Moon administration been able to undertake such striking initiatives? It is because his administration has its origin in the Candlelight Revolution. From 2016 to 2017, many streets around South Korea were filled with millions of protesters with a burning candle in hand.
What was the essence of the Candlelight Revolution? It was not just a movement of protesters angry at the corruption of the preceding government. The other day, I met with South Korean ambassador to Japan Lee Su-hoon, and we talked about the significance of the Candlelight Revolution. Lee told me that public hunger for peace underlay the popular movement. His words were very moving and persuasive.
South Korea’s preceding government was reluctant to negotiate with Pyongyang and increased hostile pressure on the North. Under such circumstances, the crisis of the Korean Peninsula deepened further. Faced with the mounting crisis, a hunger for peace grew among the public, leading to the revolution. Against this background, the Moon administration demonstrated that remarkable diplomatic initiative.
At the foundation of today’s change lies people’s power. And the struggles of the JCP and peace movements in Japan are also part of people’s power. During last year’s general election campaign, under the name of “national crisis”, PM Abe repeatedly called for intensifying military pressures on North Korea. In contrast, the JCP consistently called for international efforts to prevent war and resolve the crisis through dialogue. I am sure that the JCP’s efforts have contributed to bringing about today’s change.
Structural change in the world and development of the theory of imperialism
Let’s look at the world from a broader perspective.
As the biggest change in the 20th century, the JCP Program points to the fact that the colonial system collapsed worldwide and that more than 100 countries won independence and became sovereign states. This amounts to a structural change in the world. The world of the 21st century no longer belongs to a handful of world powers. The JCP Program presents a world view that we have entered a new era in which every country plays a key role on an equal footing.
This outlook on the world was endorsed last year when the United Nations adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As the process of signing and ratifying the treaty started, a split between pro- and anti-treaty forces became clearly visible. In defiance of the pressure from nuclear powers to disregard the treaty, we need to work together to collect hundreds of millions of signatures calling for abolition of nuclear arms so that the convention will take effect as early as possible.
Compared with the 20th century, the power balance in the world has significantly changed in the 21st century and the majority force calling for peace is gaining momentum.
Responding to changes in the international situation, we have refined our theory of imperialism in the JCP Program. In the world of the 21st century, we can no longer equate monopoly capitalism with imperialism. When making a judgment on whether we can call a nation an imperialist, we have to see whether the nation’s policies and actions have an aggressive nature. From this point of view, the JCP Program defines the United States as the paramount imperialist nation in today’s world.
At the same time, we think it has become increasingly impossible for the US to take imperialistic actions at any time and any place. Washington often takes actions of militaristic hegemonism while seeking a way to resolve disputes through diplomatic negotiations. Thus, we have analyzed both aspects of Washington’s policies and have expressed support for its positive policies. We need to see things as they are from various perspectives.
Accordingly, we don’t automatically jump to the conclusion that whatever the Trump administration does is wrong. We need to analyze its actions carefully in detail. As you know, problems arising from Trump’s “America First” policy are numerous. In dealing with the issue of North Korea, however, the Trump administration has pursued a resolution through diplomatic negotiations while simultaneously issuing military threats. Paying attention to this ambivalence, we immediately called on the related countries to take the peaceful option, and the situation evolved to take that direction. Here again, it is the JCP Program that enabled us to discern this potential.
It is ironic that PM Abe’s “nothing-but-applying-pressure” policy has ended in dismal failure while President Trump has responded with various options in coping with the North Korea issue. Abe frequently boasts that he and Trump are close friends who enjoy playing golf together. But we could say that the JCP has grasped Washington’s moves better than Abe in this regard.
The JCP Program continues to show its vitality in this fast-changing world. With confidence in our approach, we will do our best so that the JCP’s foreign policy options will become national policy as early as possible.
4th angle: Great future perspective beyond capitalism
Fourthly, the JCP Program does not only propose a democratic reform program within the framework of capitalism. It also presents a perspective on our future society – a socialist and communist society. This is a distinctive characteristic of the Program.
Bicentennial of Marx’s birth – international attention focused on the Revolutionary Marx
This year marks the bicentennial of the birth of Karl Marx who laid the foundation of scientific socialism. International attention is now focused on Marx from various angles.
Today, I brought with me the South German Newspaper published on New Year’s Day this year. Under the title of “Superstar”, it carries a long feature story on Marx with his portrait. It is pointed out in the article that: Marx enjoys greater popularity than ever and that there are a lot of Marx’s books and biographies in bookstores and some of them are on the bestseller lists; a new high-speed train in Germany was recently named “Karl Marx”; and a savings bank in Chemnitz has issued a cash card with Marx’s face printed on it.
Recently, Columbia University released the ranking of textbooks used by universities in five English-speaking countries. According to that ranking, Aristotle’s “Ethics” took first place, followed by an English writing textbook. And the third place was taken by “The Communist Manifesto” written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
As a revolutionary who devoted his whole life to reforming society, Marx is still attracting global attention. This is shown in various ways.
The other day, a movie entitled “The Young Karl Marx” was released. Filmmakers from Belgium, France, and Germany collaborated to produce this work in commemoration of the bicentenary of Marx’s birth. The movie depicts a young Marx with his wife Jenny, Marx’s encounter with Engels, and their revolutionary activities until the Communist Manifesto was published in 1848. This movie really moved me. Raoul Peck, the director of this film, said in an interview that what he wanted to depict was the power of youth and a revolution of ideology.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier stated in his speech commemorating the 200th birthday of Marx: “For him, the important thing was overcoming people’s poverty and liberating them from the rule of an absolutist, bureaucratic nation. His works are full of enthusiastic humanity. In his works, we can see calls for free speech, decent working conditions, an eight-hour workday, and workers’ education. They also include a high valuation of women’s role in fighting for freedom and even a call for environmental protection.”
It is impressive that the incumbent President of Marx’s homeland called Marx a revolutionary fighting for freedom.
Karl Marx was a revolutionary more than anything else. He started his career as an activist seeking to reform reactionary reality, came to adopt a communist stance, and made the communist theory more scientific by changing the whole of economics. I am happy to see Marx in the spotlight on the 200th anniversary of his birth.
Political trend toward social reform is growing in the West
Then, what is behind this move?
I think there is a fact that in the face of raging global capitalism, new civil movements seeking peace as well as the elimination of poverty and social disparities have developed in Europe and America, and that those movements have created a new political trend toward drastic social reform.
In the 2016 US Democratic Party presidential primaries, Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed “democratic socialist”, put up a good fight. This new political current has brought about various movements, such as campaigns for raising the minimum wage, high school student-based campaigns calling for gun control, the #Me Too movement, and various campaigns opposing discrimination against migrants and sexual minorities. In connection with these movements to protect human dignity, a trend toward political reform has been growing. Across the United States, candidates calling themselves “socialist” have won in the Democratic Party’s primaries for the coming midterm elections. In June, a 28-year-old woman socialist candidate won in a conservative constituency in the State of New York, sending shock waves throughout the world.
Two different currents are clashing in Europe as well. While right-wing xenophobia and racism is emerging, progressive forces are making remarkable advances. In Britain’s general election held last year, the Labor Party led by self-proclaimed “socialist” Jeremy Corbyn significantly gained seats under the banner of opposing austerity measures and eliminating poverty and social disparities.
At the JCP 27th Congress in January 2017, we decided on a policy of strengthening mutual exchanges and solidarity with progressives in Western nations. When the JCP delegation took part in the UN conference on the nuclear weapon ban treaty last year, it agreed with the British Labor Party and the Scottish National Party to cooperate for a world free from nuclear arms. In March this year, JCP representatives visited Greece and agreed with the ruling Syriza party to collaborate in opposing austerity measures and protecting human dignity. To exchange experiences and lessons learned from various fights in industrialized capitalist nations is of great significance for promoting progressive movements in Japan and the rest of the world. We are determined to make our utmost efforts to this end.
Core of Marx’s theory of future society – ‘free and full development of individuals’
Earlier I said that Marx was a revolutionary more than anything else. He showed his ability to open a vista of hope for the future. Instead of drawing a blueprint in his mind, Marx presented some important features of future society by conducting thorough research on the capitalist system. I would like to emphasize that the JCP Program shed light on the core of Marx’s theory of future society – one of the most attractive parts of his theory that had been overlooked internationally – and revived it in today’s world.
“The free and full development of individuals” – this is the core of the theme of liberating humans that Marx and Engels pursued all their lives. And it is also the greatest characteristic of a future society depicted in the JCP Program.
A major social reform is needed to advance toward such a new society. This reform will include socialization of the means of production – placing previously capitalist-owned factories, machines, and land in the hands of society at large consisting of free humans. With this revolutionary reform, the primary purpose of production will change from the pursuit of profits to the development of society and human beings. It will open the way for overcoming social evils such as poverty and inequality that accompany the capitalist world.
The most important thing is that this revolutionary reform will abolish the exploitation of humans by other humans. If all members of a society are equally engaged in productive activities, working hours per capita will be reduced dramatically. In addition, waste that is always associated with capitalism will be eliminated, and it will also help shorten working hours.
What will happen by drastically reducing working hours? Everybody will have sufficient time at their disposal, which Marx called “the kingdom of freedom”. All people will be able to use the extra free time to develop their various abilities, including intelligence. They will be able to awaken their potential and develop it fully and freely. Each person’s development will contribute to developing the society as a whole. And this will make it possible to further cut working hours. Thus, a virtuous cycle of development will be created.
The free and full development of individuals is guaranteed by drastically reducing working hours. This is the most attractive idea of Marx’s theory of future society. We introduced this important idea to the JCP Program 15 years ago. With that revision, we revived Marx’s great vision for the future.
Our fight is directly connected with future society
Another thing I would like to stress is that our fight is directly connected with future society.
Young people in Japan are now suffering from excessively long working hours and heavy workloads. In a bid to change this harsh reality, they are rising up and calling for shorter working hours. Their struggles are all connected with the future and have historical significance in creating a new society.
In terms of the economy, the JCP Program proposes to build “an economy governed by rules” that defends the people’s living standards and rights. The reason the Program does not use the phrase “capitalism governed by rules” is that we believe many positive results achieved by economic reform, such as shorter working hours, genuine gender equality, and improved social security, will be passed down to future society.
In his masterwork “Capital”, Marx clarifies the significance of the Factory Acts restricting a workday to 10 hours, which British workers in the 19th century won after historic struggles. He notes that even if capitalism comes to an end, the Factory Acts will not lose their significance and become “the elements of formation of a new society”.
Today’s our struggles to build a better society are all linked to the future and will become “the elements of formation of a new society”. With this historical perspective, let’s make our all-out efforts.
The name of the JCP represents our vision for an ideal future society. Human history will not end with capitalism. A new era will certainly come after capitalism. Because of this future perspective, the JCP can address any urgent issue taking a firm stance. We have pride and confidence in our party’s name.
Let us work to build up the JCP to promote and realize its Program
Today, I have spoken about the great vitality of the JCP Program from four angles. I hope that many people will have an interest in learning more about the Program and take the time to read it.
What I would like to note lastly is where the source of power to realize the JCP Program lies.
In order to realize any agenda in the Program, it is necessary to build a national consensus on it. It needs to become a common agenda for the united front – the citizens-opposition party alliance – and gain support from the majority of the public.
Then, what are basic conditions for developing the united front? The JCP Program states: “The JCP must take on the role as the foremost promoter of the movement toward the national common effort and unity. The JCP’s growth, backed by high-level political and theoretical capabilities as well as great organizational strength with close ties with workers and other strata of the people, is indispensable for the development of the united front.”
Building a much larger, more powerful JCP is needed to fully develop the united front and realize its Program.
The united front cannot be built just by the main opposition parties reaching an agreement. By forging strong human bonds throughout the country at the grass-roots level, the united front will be able to demonstrate its real ability. We are proud of the fact that about 20,000 JCP branches located in communities, workplaces, and schools across the country are playing a crucial role in forging such bonds of solidarity. The ruling forces are trying to continue with their misgovernment by dividing the public. JCP branches have an essential role of thwarting their attempt by forming bonds of solidarity at the grass-roots level. By building up the JCP based on its branches, we can further develop the united front and open the way to Japan’s bright future.
I would like to make an appeal from the bottom of my heart. As we were meant to meet here today for some reason, I hope many of the audience will join the JCP and live their lives working together with us for social progress.
This year marks the 96th anniversary of the foundation of the JCP. There are not many political parties in the world that keep working actively under a single name for almost a century. The history of the JCP has been shaped by our predecessors’ unyielding struggles. Expressing our deepest gratitude to our predecessors, I would like to emphasize that today’s fight is enabled and strengthened by their struggles from the prewar period.
Picking up their torch, let’s work together to build a more powerful JCP, further develop the united front, bring down the despotic Abe government, and establish a coalition government of the opposition parties.
Let’s make our best efforts for the JCP to make a major advance in next year’s Upper House election and unified local elections. And let’s work together so that we can celebrate the centennial of the JCP foundation with a remarkable further advance of the opposition alliance and the JCP.
Hurray for the 96th anniversary of the JCP foundation!
Thank you very much for your kind attention.