The following is the translation of the speech by Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo at the New Year Assembly held on January 4 at the JCP head office:
Happy New Year to all present and to all who are watching this assembly via the satellite communication system and on the Internet!
The JCP will soon hold its 25th Congress.
First, I want to report on our special drive for a party advance in preparation for the 25th Congress. Thanks to members’ efforts in December, the readership of the Akahata daily and Sunday editions increased by 5,000 in December. It is for the first time in 16 years that we have achieved a net increase of over 5,000 Akahata subscribers in one month. We received 1,149 new members in the same month, the second highest achievement since the previous Congress. I want to express my deepest respect and warm thanks to all the people who contributed to achieving these results.
The draft Resolution of the 25th Congress is encouraging party members to exert more energy in these activities. Great advances have been made at party branches where party members have taken part in discussions on the draft Resolution and have come to be determined to win a JCP advance in the House of Councilors election. At one party organization, its members extensively discussed the lessons of the past national elections and arrived at the conclusion that it would be wrong to seek to increase electoral votes for the JCP without increasing the Akahata readership. They are now carrying out a drive to increase the Akahata readership to exceed the level it had at the time of the 24th Congress.
The draft Resolution is also encouraging various sectors of Japanese society. Based on the discussion on the draft Resolution, many party organizations are reaching out to people in agricultural cooperatives, forestry unions, and medical services. They are increasing dialogue with those who were previously considered conservative. It should be noted that some of them have even become Akahata readers.
The current party expansion drive will end at the end of January. The numbers of new JCP members and Akahata subscribers will be recorded at the end of January. Let us do all we can to deliver the draft Resolution to all party members so that nothing will be left undone when the Congress is held.
Let us achieve a great advance in the special drive period, with emphasis on increasing the JCP strength, and on this basis let us create an upsurge in making the JCP bigger and stronger before the Upper House election! Let us not fail to unite in our strength in achieving an advance in the election six months from now!
Last year was historic. The Liberal Democratic Party, which had led Japan’s reactionary governments after World War II, was kicked out of power. Japan’s state of politics took a significant first step forward.
This year, the issue is what the substance of a new approach to politics should be to replace LDP politics. Who will take power is no longer the issue at present. Japan’s new political leadership is called upon to envisage the country’s future in response to the public quest for policies in the public interest.
The draft Resolution makes clear how the process of people’s quest should be under the present transient situation, how their understanding can develop, and what the JCP should do. It states that under the emerging situation, there are conditions that make it possible to realize people’s demand to a certain extent, depending on the balance of power between the government and civil society. However, it states that the people will have to recognize that major hurdles still exist before their demands can be met. It predicts that the two aberrations hampering the realization of people’s demands - the extraordinary submission to the United States and arbitrary actions of large corporations and the financial circle- will become clearer than ever before.
People will undergo experiences that will reveal how the two aberrations contradict their interests and how the JCP policy stated in the JCP Program has direct bearing on their demands. With this as a focal point, I want to talk about urgent issues regarding foreign policy and domestic issues awaiting resolution this year.
The first issue is the U.S. military bases and the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty setup.
On the issue of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, the new government is wavering and is in disarray. Okinawans have prevented the government from making a decision before the end of the last year. But the government has decided to postpone the decision as to where to move the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma base until May. It is strange to decide to not decide. It’s contradictory. But, to begin with, it is wrong to cling to the policy of a return of the Futenma base site conditioned on relocating it to somewhere in Okinawa or mainland Japan. I must say that this holds no vision for the future.
As for the Futenma base, Okinawans are demanding the unconditional return of the site. Many U.S. bases in Okinawa, including the Futenma Air Station, are built on land that the U.S. armed forces stole from the local people, against international law, by locking them up in detention camps during the occupation. The illegally expropriated lands must be returned unconditionally. However, the Japan-U.S. Special Action Committee on Okinawa agreed in 1996 to return the Futenma base site on condition that a new base will be constructed. This was a fundamental error. The failure of this policy is shown by the fact that the base has not been moved in these 13 years of continued opposition.
The new government is wavering on where to move the Futenma base. It is reported that some functions of the base may be moved to Shimoji-shima Island or Ie-jima Island. This is outrageous. There are also various irresponsible plans to move it to the mainland of Japan. Pains and sufferings of local residents will be the same wherever they may go. This is the reason why Mayor Iha Youichi and the citizens of Ginowan City who have experienced the sufferings first hand do not want the Futenma base to be relocated to any other place, neither within nor outside the prefecture. They demand the base be removed. I want to emphasize that the unity of Okinawans in the struggle for the unconditional removal of the base and mainland peoples’ solidarity with them may lead to a solution.
In talks with Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio last December, I stressed this point. The prime minister said that unconditional removal is difficult in light of security concerns and the need for a deterrent. So long as the government is under the illusion that the U.S. Marines are necessary as a “deterrent” for Japan’s peace and security, it could come to a dead-end from which no progress will be possible unless it proposes a new base site. There will be no way out of the situation.
The U.S. Marine Corps is by no means a deterrent needed for peace. They are forces trained and poised for intervention in foreign countries. The way to a settlement of the issue can only be found by facing this fact, breaking the spell of a need for a “deterrent” and negotiating with the U.S. for an unconditional removal of the base.
The issue of U.S. bases in Okinawa is inevitably linked to the question of the need for the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
When I visited Kadena Town last December, Mayor Miyagi Tokujistu said that the 2006 Japan-U.S. agreement to reduce Kadena residents’ burdens was phony. Pointing out that U.S. military planes are flying to Kadena Air Force Base from all over the world, and that sufferings associated with the Kadena base have been increasing, he said, “Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. It is the time for all people to discuss the true security interests of the country. Please take the initiative in increasing debates in the Diet over whether the security treaty is necessary or not.” I was impressed by the fact that even a mayor from the conservative camp hopes that debates on the need for the security treaty be held.
In an interview with Nikkei Shimbun on December 24, 2009, Former Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro said, “Next year is the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Whether to maintain or revise or abolish it? There will be animated debates.” He actually included the choice of “abolition”. Even a conservative political leader who in the past called for the perpetuation of the Security Treaty is talking about hot debates on the treaty, including the choice of “abolition”. In reply to his expectation, let’s provoke intense debates!
In every field of our activities, let’s reveal the abnormal situation of Japan’s subordination to the United States and develop struggles to change the situation! Let’s increase national debates over the need for the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, and devote ourselves to make this year an epoch in forming a majority call for the abrogation of the security treaty!
In particular, I want to call for a nationwide struggle to be launched by building up solidarity between Okinawa and mainland Japan to achieve an “Okinawa without U.S. military bases” and a “Japan without U.S. military bases.”
Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio in the meeting with me in December said that it would be difficult to call for the unconditional removal of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station because of the present “Japan-U.S. agreement”. That is not true.
To begin with, the reversion of the administrative rights over Okinawa to Japan in 1972 was achieved through a struggle that broke even the treaty commitment. The San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951 in Article 3 provides that Japan concedes to handover the administrative rights over Okinawa to the United States, making it impossible to use the treaty for Japan to demand the reversion of Okinawa to Japan. It was the struggle Okinawans waged in firm solidarity with the peace and democratic forces of mainland Japan that finally achieved the reversion.
A series of declassified U.S. documents show how the United States feared the growing public opposition in Okinawa as well as throughout the country demanding the return of Okinawa to Japan, and how the United States was driven into a corner by the strength of public opinion.
In May and July 1965, then U.S. Ambassador Edwin Reischauer sent telegrams and memos informing the State Department of the situation in Japan, which he perceived as critical. Okinawans were increasing their struggles demanding the return of Okinawa to Japan, and peace and democratic forces on mainland Japan were rising up in struggles against the U.S. war of aggression against Vietnam. These developments made the U.S. ambassador write reports emphasizing the need to consider reversing the administrative rights over Okinawa to Japan. Then U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk later in September 1965 sent a letter to then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara which stated, “I share Ambassador Reischauer’s view that we face a changing situation in Japan presenting dangers for United States interests if we fail to respond correctly, and opportunities if we do.”
This is how Rusk stated the need to consider returning the administrative rights over Okinawa to Japan. Declassified documents also show that U.S. military leaders opposed the Rusk call. The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff was of the opinion that it was too early and unrealistic. This tag of war over position was taking place within the U.S. leadership.
However, the overpowering struggle by the Japanese people achieved the return of Okinawa to Japan, even though a number of problems were left unsolved, including the secret agreement that allowed the United States to bring nuclear weapons into Okinawa in an emergency. All this shows that it is possible to surmount what was believed to be impossible because of the treaty if Okinawans wage a united struggle in solidarity with compatriots in mainland Japan in order to force the United States into just such a situation that Rusk described as “presenting dangers for United States interests if we fail to respond correctly, and opportunities if we do.” Let us be convinced of the power of unity in opposition in order to achieve the goal and make this year a historic turning point paving the way for an “Okinawa without U.S. military bases” and a “Japan without U.S. military bases”!
The other issue is the ongoing economic crisis and our party’s call for an “economy governed by rules.”
The current situation of employment and the financial position of medium- and small-sized businesses are worsening. Those who have gathered at the public “tent village” built for unemployed workers without homes during the New Year holidays are facing a serious situation more than those who participated in last year’s “tent village.” It is necessary to drastically improve public assistances to unemployed workers. At the same time, what should we do to defend the people’s living conditions from the economic crisis? The question we cannot avoid is what kind of economic strategy the government should take in order to achieve an economic recovery and protect people’s livelihoods.
We recognize the current global economic crisis as the combination of a financial crisis and an overproduction crisis. What is most affecting Japan is the overproduction crisis. It is as the government has acknowledged: the gap between supply and demand is about 40 trillion yen, amounting to nearly 10 percent of Japan’s GDP.
Why has demand decreased this much? This is because workers’ incomes have been eroded away. Employees’ wages had been reduced by 27 trillion yen from 280 trillion yen in 1997 to 253 trillion yen in 2009. Especially in the last ten years, it had decreased by 10 trillion yen. The reason is clear. The current serious situation has been created by the government promotion of deregulation of labor rules, major corporations’ competition to cut labor costs, replacement of regular workers by non-regular workers, severe wage cuts and restructuring, and corporate competition to dismiss a large number of non-regular workers in order to deal with the global economic crisis.
Then, where has workers’ money gone? In the last ten years, corporate internal reserves have doubled from about 200 trillion yen to 400 trillion yen. Half of the amount, about 200 trillion yen is held by large corporations. Although major firms have made record profits, they have internally reserved the profits and have not used these profits for the people’s living conditions. The people’s income has decreased and domestic demand has weakened. Such excessive distortion and fragility of Japan’s economy have become clear with the worldwide economic crisis and is now running rampant in the most brutal way. This is what is happening now.
Based on the characteristics and causes of the current economic crisis, what kind of measures the government should take is clear.
I believe there are two major points regarding this matter.
The first point is to implement measures to have the large amount of internal funds reserved by major corporations returned to workers, medium- and small-sized businesses, and the society. The corporate internal reserves can be the best resource to be used for the people’s living conditions. Without this, it is impossible to reduce the supply-demand gap of 40 trillion yen. In order to carry this out, it is necessary to create rules. I’d like to stress that creation of an “economy governed by rules” is immediately needed by drastically increasing the minimum wage, revising the Worker Dispatch Law, and increasing unit prices paid to medium- and small-sized subcontractors.
The other point is to help to swiftly recover from the damage caused by the former Liberal Democratic and Komei party government’s policy of cutting the annual growth of expenditure on social services by 220 billion yen. The abolition of the health insurance system for the elderly aged 75 and older, the elimination of the self-support assistance law that requires disabled persons to pay 10 percent of the cost for the social services they receive, restoration of additional benefits for the elderly and single-parent households (only mothers with dependent children) in the livelihood protection, and reduction of medical costs. If the government swiftly implements these measures, the people will recognize that it has changed policies to directly support their living conditions. This will contribute to reduce their anxiety for the future.
I believe these are the two major points. The creation of an “economy governed by rules” is the essential prescription needed to overcome the economic crisis. This is the best and immediate economic strategy. Let us develop struggles in every field of the people’s movements to push the government to carry this out!
Then, how is the government coping with the economic crisis? In the face of criticism of its “lack of economic strategy”, the Hatoyama government on December 30 suddenly announced “a new growth strategy.” In its plan, however, the government only provided some figures concerning their expectations of economic growth. It provided no evidence and no plan to achieve economic growth. Such a government plan is just an empty paper plan. It is hard to call it a “strategy”.
The main problem is that the government shows no willingness to call on large companies to fulfill their social responsibility. Although the government will submit a bill to revise the Worker Dispatch Law to the upcoming ordinary Diet session, it has decided to wait three-five years to enforce the revised law. But, in reality, what is happening at work places? Major auto and electronics manufacturers are again using contingent workers to meet the temporary increase in production due to the government’s policy of encouraging consumers to buy “eco-friendly” products, and when the government ends that policy those manufacturers will dismiss the temporary workers. Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) is pushing ahead with its plan to replace a large number of its contract workers with temporary workers. Taking these facts into consideration, a revision of the Workers Dispatch Law is an urgent task. If the government postpones implementing the revised law, we have to say that the government has given in to large corporations’ demands. The JCP opposes this irresponsible attitude and demands an immediate revision of the Worker Dispatch Law and enforcement of the revised law. In order to make the revised law effective in reducing the extent of the disposable use of labor, the law should incorporate provisions prohibiting the use of “on-call day laborers” and the sending of temporary workers to manufacturers as well as requiring that any company if violates the law must provide direct employment to temporary workers. The JCP is working hard to achieve this.
Regarding the issue of recovering from the damages caused by the former government’s cutbacks in social welfare programs, the current government’s policy is facing a major problem. More and more people are angry about the government’s decision to postpone abolishing the discriminatory health insurance system for the elderly aged 75 and over for four years. From April, a drastic increase in health insurance premiums will impose a heavy financial burden on many people. The “beneficiary-pays system” under the disabled person self-support law was maintained, because the government only allocated 10 billion yen to scrap the system, while it stated that 30 billion yen is necessary to do so. Because of public opposition, the additional payment of benefits to single-parent households (only applied to mothers with dependent children) receiving welfare assistance was restored. But the government ignored the public demand for the reinstatement of additional benefits for the elderly in the livelihood protection program. The reason why the government denied deciding to drastically change its policy from one that cuts social welfare services to one that improves these services also reveals the government’s position of yielding to the business circle’s needs. The JCP will make efforts to increase the struggle to reduce the suffering, including the discriminatory medical services for the elderly aged 75 and over, that people experienced under the “structural reform policy.”
The government is stuck in a dead end on the issue of financial resources to implement its plan. The government budget for FY 2010 relies on a large amount of national debts worth 44.3 trillion yen and 8 trillion yen of so-called “buried treasures”, which are non-tax revenues such as surplus funds in special accounts. The use of non-tax revenues is limited. The government no longer is capable of drafting a budget for the next fiscal year. The FY 2010 budget is thus hopeless. Why has this happened? Because the government took the position of refusing to touch the “two sanctuaries”, military expenditure and preferential treatment to large corporations and the wealthy, through an increase in the military budget and the continuation of tax breaks for large enterprises and the rich. Unless the government changes this position, it will force people to endure heavy financial burdens through the abolition of dependent and spouse deductions of taxable income and another consumption tax hike. The government is required to scrap the traditional policy in this regard.
In order to protect people’s lives from the economic crisis in earnest, the government as always faces the obstacle which is the arrogance of big companies and the business circles representing them. Even though the government has carried out some progressive measures due to public ressure, the government has no “economic strategy vision” for protecting people’s livelihoods from the economic crisis. The government position prevents it from overcoming this obstacle.
Everyone, let’s overcome the obstacle and make this year a year to step forward in the movement toward a “society governed by rules” through people’s struggles!
We now can see the contradictions more clearly than ever between the government reluctance to break away from the “two aberrations” and the public demand for foreign and domestic policies in the public interest.
The antagonism between the public interest and the “two aberrations” has become visibly exacerbated following the fall of the LDP-Komei government. The present situation, in other words, offers us a chance to advance through hard work to widely promote our policies for remaking Japan as set out in the JCP Program.
Let us seize this chance! The task now is for us to make a success of the JCP Congress, and advance in the House of Councilors election in July!
With a JCP victory in the coming Upper House election as a first step, as called for in the draft Resolution, let us make the 2010s a historic decade of the JCP’s great leap forward! Let me conclude my New Year greetings by asking all of you to continue in your persistent efforts to build a larger party and achieve a historic victory in this decade that will go down in JCP history as a decade of major advance! Let’s work together to achieve this goal!
- Akahata, January 5, 2010