January 5, 2013
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on January 4 gave a New Year address at the JCP head office in Tokyo, expressing his determination to develop the fledgling JCP advance into a full-fledged trend toward bringing about a change in politics. He called on all JCP members to make 2014 a year of another advance in popular movements and in expansion of party strength. The excerpts of his address are as follows:
Thanks to the whole party effort, about 2,000 people joined the JCP last month alone. During the past four months, we received more than 4,700 new members. I am greatly pleased that they decided to become part of the JCP. Welcome to our party!
A local JCP committee in Nara Prefecture exceeded its initial goal of increasing its number of members by 150 in the September-December period. The committee chair, Nishimoto Fumiko reported, "Those who recently joined the JCP include a former president of a famous middle-sized company, workers in workplaces where the JCP had never had a presence before, workers in managerial positions, school teachers, municipal employees, and farmers, with diverse ages and social strata." This local experience is showing us that we should be convinced of the changing atmosphere in people's trust in the present political climate and that if we appeal to a broader range of people, the JCP will be able to make further advances.
As for the number of Akahata subscribers, it increased by 1,800 for the daily Akahata and 5,800 for the Akahata Sunday edition. In the four months since September last year, we achieved an increase of 12,400 in total (2,400 for the daily, 10,000 for the Sunday edition). I'd like to express my heartfelt appreciation to all for the contribution JCP members and supporters made to increase the Akahata readership.
After the JCP achievement of increasing seats held in the House of Councilors election last summer, the "JCP versus LDP" picture clearly came into focus, and more and more people began having expectations for the JCP to put a stop to the Abe government's runaway policies. This was the outstanding feature of our 4-month struggle in the party buildup drive.
The Abe government consisting of the LDP and the Komei Party was inaugurated as a result of the general election held in December 2012. With their 325 seats dominating the House of Representatives, they began introducing runaway policies in all areas. The Abe Cabinet implements favorable measures only to large corporations at the cost of public livelihoods in the name of "Abenomics", still promotes nuclear energy, aspires to Japan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade pact, goes ahead with the construction of a new U.S. military base in Okinawa, and moves to adversely revise Japan's pacifist Constitution.
The one-time ruling party of the Democratic Party of Japan cannot criticize any of the Abe runaway policies because all these policies are what the DPJ worked to implement when it was in power. Even as an opposition party, the DPJ no longer has a reason to exist. The Japan Restoration Party and the Your Party, the so-called "third pole", play a leading role in promoting Abe's runaway policies and encouraging his attempt to revise the Constitution. They are just a complementary force of the LDP.
The JCP held the Central Committee 7th Plenum in last May just before the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election and the House of Councilors election. There, the party announced that the "JCP versus LDP" confrontation would be a major slogan in the election campaigns.
Our "JCP vs LDP" discussions received favorable responses from the general public, leading to our victories in two elections.
In the June Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, the JCP more than doubled its seats from eight to seventeen, becoming the third largest party in the assembly overtaking the DPJ.
One month later, in the House of Councilors election, the JCP increased its number of seats to eight from the three which were up for the election, totaling eleven including another uncontested three seats. As a result, we obtained the right to submit bills to the Diet. This is our first significant victory in national elections in the last fifteen years.
After the Upper House election, the "JCP vs LDP" structure became even more apparent.
Diet discussions on the state secrets protection law exposed political parties' real faces. The Japan Restoration Party and the Your Party, after agreeing to make a slight modification of the bill with the ruling bloc, became joint sponsors of the unprecedentedly adverse law. It clearly showed that the two parties are only assisting the Abe Cabinet. The DPJ could not argue for the killing of the bill and just wavered on what to do. Lawmakers of the DPJ, Your, and the JRP walked out of the Upper House chamber before the vote was taken on the bill. Only an LDP lawmaker and JCP Nihi delivered speeches in favor and in opposition, respectively. It was symbolic of the emerging JCP-LDP confrontation.
The state secrets law was forcibly enacted on December 6. What should be paid attention to the most is that a wider-than-ever range of people and organizations stood up to raise their voices in a very short period of time against the law. They include lawyers, scholars, researchers, cultural figures, artists, people in media, as well as civic organizations, labor unions, and local municipalities. Many of them, even after the enactment of the law, have continued to fight to get the law scrapped. Many people have also begun to realize that the true aim behind the law is to create a nation capable of fighting wars. This indicates how strong and deep people's power can be in the struggle for peace and democracy.
The secrecy law has also faced mounting international criticisms and concerns. Opposition to the law was expressed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation of Journalists, and the International P.E.N. Even the U.S. military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported, "Legal experts worry Japan's secrecy law may silence journalists."
The struggle against the state secrets law continues to be one of the major tasks at hand this year. The JCP plans to submit to the ordinary session of the Diet a bill to abolish the law. Let us exert our efforts to reveal how dangerous this unconstitutional law is in the Diet and among the public and get it abolished!
Following the forcible passage of the secrecy law, the Abe Cabinet on December 17 approved a new National Security Strategy, the new Defense Program Guidelines, and the Mid-Term Defense Program.
These new policies are a blueprint for the Abe Cabinet's ambition to turn Japan into a war-fighting nation. The National Security Strategy proposes "proactive contribution to peace" as its basic principle. While what it really aims for is not specified in the document, the prime minister's repeated remarks clearly indicate that the new concept focuses on the use of the right to collective self-defense doing away with Article 9 of the Constitution.
These documents throw away the government's traditional principle of "exclusively defensive defense" and instead call for a "dynamic joint defense force". They propose to spend 24.67 trillion yen on the military budget over the next five years and to drastically change the Self-Defense Forces to be capable of operating abroad on short notice. It is also grave that the new policies indicate abolition of the country's three principles banning arms exports as well as move to force citizens to show their "patriotism".
Some conservative writers have even expressed their concerns over the new defense policies. They say, "Japan's conservative party, the Liberal Democratic Party, used to be proud of the fact that the county refuses to wage war as a way to solve problems," and, "The current LDP is not a conservative force, but a right-wing totalitarian party." The Abe Cabinet's runaway policies will inevitably raise even more criticism among a wider range of the public, including politically conservative people, who are keen to protect the peace principles of the Constitution.
Abe on December 26 visited the controversial shrine of Yasukuni.
Yasukuni Shrine played a significant role in sending Japanese people to battlefields during World War II. The shrine, which honors Class-A war criminals along with other war dead, has claimed that Japan's war of aggression was a just war for its self-existence and self-defense as well as for Asian liberation from western rule. Abe's visit to the facility amounts to declaring to the world that he affirms and glorifies the aggressive war. The prime minister explained that he pledged not to enter into war again, but the shrine is the most inappropriate place for such a pledge.
The international order after WWII is based on condemnation of the war of aggression by Japan, Germany, and Italy. Abe challenges the current world order by taking this provocative action.
Abe's official visit as prime minister to the shrine has invited a mountain of criticism in and out of the country. In addition to condemnation from the Chinese and South Korean governments, the U.S. administration issued an unprecedented statement that it was "disappointed" with the visit. The UN Secretary-General, the European Union, the Russian and Singaporean governments also criticized Abe's act.
If the prime minister keeps on taking actions like this, Japan will become isolated from the global community. As a political party which opposed Japan's war of aggression and colonial rule of other nations at the risk of party members' lives, the JCP will do its utmost this year to root out any attempt to turn back the tide of history.
The following day, Okinawa Governor Nakaima Hirokazu announced that he will approve a request from the central government to reclaim land at the Henoko district in Okinawa's Nago City for the construction of a U.S. military base. The governor betrayed the Okinawan people by defying their will against the construction and breaking his own campaign promise to seek the relocation of the U.S. Futenma base to a location "outside the prefecture".
The Abe administration bears heavy responsibility for the treachery. It put pressure on Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers elected from Okinawa as well as the LDP Okinawa prefectural chapter, and thus forced them to go back on their campaign promises and support the construction plan. Following that, the government promised monetary incentives, including subsidies for promoting the local economy, to Governor Nakaima and pressed him into endorsing the landfill project in the name of economic development. It is totally unacceptable in a democratic country for the state to force local people to shoulder a heavy burden of hosting a military base by using the underhanded carrot and the stick approach.
The central government welcomes the governor's decision claiming that it leads to a resolution of the issue. Actually, the governor's approval is no more than one step taken toward initiating the construction project. The project will face a lot of difficulties before it can be carried out. As seen in the petition submitted to the government in January 2013 by the heads and the assembly speakers of all 41 municipalities in Okinawa, an overwhelming majority of Okinawan people want the withdrawal of all the crash-prone aircraft Ospreys and the removal of the U.S. Futenma base from the prefecture.
The JCP demands that the governor retract his approval for reclaiming land at the Henoko district, and the party will continue to support the people's struggle for the unconditional removal of the Futenma base.
The Nago City mayoral election on January 19 is an important event that will decide the future of Okinawa. We are determined to make every effort together with the people to ensure the victory of Inamine Susumu, the incumbent mayor who has maintained a consistent stance over the past four years to work to block the planned base construction.
This year, we will face a crucial moment in deciding whether to allow the government to push ahead with the continued use of nuclear power generation or to open the way for a "zero"-nuclear power society.
The Abe government on December 13, 2013 issued its basic energy plan which aims at maintaining and promoting the use of nuclear power as an essential source of electricity and moving forward with reactivation of idled nuclear reactors. The government intends to approve the plan within the month of January.
The evaluation process of applications for restarting 16 out of 48 offline nuclear reactors across the nation is in progress. Additional applications will probably be submitted this year.
However, in a Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll conducted at the end of the year, 24% of respondents demanded a swift end to nuclear power generation and 59% agreed on the need to get rid of it in the future, totaling 83% who expressed opposition to nuclear power.
The continuous spread of people's movements seeking "zero"-nuclear power has aroused a great hope in people's minds. Weekly Friday night protests in front of the prime minister's office took place 85 times since the protest began in March 2012. Protests like this have been spreading throughout Japan. In Fukushima Prefecture, together with a movement for recovery from the 2011 disaster, a movement demanding an end to nuclear power generation has been attracting more and more people.
Let's make efforts to increase these movements further in order to form the vast majority of people demanding "zero"-nuclear power and overpower the pro-nuclear power force.
The government on December 24 released the 2014 draft budget which was drawn up in accordance with the "Abenomics" economic policy. In the draft budget, the government will impose on the general public another eight trillion yen of financial burdens with the planned increase in the consumption tax rate to 8% in April. It also plans to reduce its financial responsibility for social services through various measures which include cuts in pension and welfare benefits and a raise in elderly people's payments for medical services.
Meanwhile, the government will provide large corporations with further tax breaks, such as abolition of the special corporate tax for reconstruction, and use taxpayers' money for large public works projects under the guise of "strengthening of national land", including the construction of the Tokyo Outer Ring Road and an international strategic container port facility amounting to a free-trade zone.
Prime Minister Abe at the end of 2013 proudly claimed that his Abenomics policy contributed to pushing up stock prices. Although share prices showed an upward tendency due to monetary manipulation, ordinary people never benefited from higher share prices. Japan's economic growth is slowing as workers' wages remain on a declining trend and consumer spending is still stagnant. Under these circumstances, enormous financial burdens on the general public will certainly result in the deterioration of people's livelihoods and Japan's economy overall.
The JCP will work hard to develop collaboration with people calling for the cancellation of the planned consumption tax increase in April and will work to block the introduction of the increased rate. The JCP in its policy proposal shows ways to rebuild the Japanese economy through an overall increase in wages and the creation of more stable jobs. The JCP will do its utmost to tackle the financial crisis while improving social services without the need for the consumption tax increase.
The upcoming Tokyo gubernatorial election scheduled for February 9 will be a significant opportunity to change Tokyo government policies to people-oriented ones and deliver a verdict on the Abe government's runaway policies. Former president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations Utsunomiya Kenji, who ran in the 2012 gubernatorial election, already announced his candidacy and will soon announce his election campaign platform. Following the publication of the election campaign platform, the JCP will decide whether to support him or not. The JCP will work hard with political parties, organizations, and individuals who share a common ground with JCP policies to achieve a people's victory in the Tokyo gubernatorial race.