At Speech Assembly to Mark the 80th Anniversary of the Japanese Communist Party
July 8, 2002 - Tokyo International Forum
Good evening. It's good to see so many friends with us here to celebrate the 80th founding anniversary of the Japanese Communist Party.
Allow me first to share with you the joy of receiving congratulatory speeches from the Most Venerable OSHIMA Ryojun and Mr. YONEKURA Masakane as well as warm messages from nine persons representing different sectors of our society.
We have long said that the JCP founding anniversary is a day when we examine the past, present, and future of the JCP. The significance of this year's anniversary is even greater, not only because we are celebrating it at the beginning of a new decade but because we are observing it at a time when an exciting future is in sight as we embark on the tumultuous 21st century by building on the 20th century, which was also full of turmoil.
I would like to take this occasion to talk about what role the JCP played during the 20th century in Japan and internationally, and about what goals the JCP has for the 21st century and how it plans to achieve them.
What was the 20th century like? It was a century that underwent two world wars as well as fascism and militarism, which were great calamities in Japan and the rest of the world. The 20th century, however, is remembered as a century in which humankind surmounted all these hardships to establish human rights as well as democracy in which people are the sovereign, with national sovereignty and independence of every nation of the world and the earnest hope for peace desired by all.
Japan stood out in the world as a country of despotism with the emperor as absolutist monarch, a country waging war of aggression.
The path Japan followed during the 20th century was very unique.
In fact, in the first half of that century, Japan stood out in the world as a country of despotism in the world. The idea that the "emperor is absolute" was drilled into all children. All Japanese men 20 and older were conscripted into the army and further, indoctrinated into accepting unconditional obedience to the Emperor.
Everyone of my generation was forced to learn by heart the "Imperial Rescript on Military" in junior high school. In that document, there is a well-known passage: "Take the order of your superior officer as Chin's order." Chin is a pronoun meaning "Our" exclusively used by the emperor. The phrase means that everyone in the army must comply with orders of senior officers, no matter how unreasonable they may be, because they are orders issued in the name of the emperor and therefore are absolute. This shows how the emperor system was implemented even at the lowest levels of society.
In those days, any opinion or movement advocating democracy or people's sovereignty was condemned as an atrocious crime. Later, the "Public Order Maintenance Law" was enacted to suppress such opinions and movements, followed by the creation of a brutal police unit called "Special Political Police" known as "Tokko." Later, a capital punishment provision was added to the law. This was the despotic policy that dragged the whole nation into the reckless and destructive war of aggression.
That Japan's war of aggression in Asian nations took more than two-million lives is a historical fact the Japanese people, as a member of Asia, must not ever forget.
Precisely 80 years ago, in the midst of the war of aggression, the Japanese Communist Party was founded on July 15, 1922. From the outset, the JCP set forth the following demands as its basic policy:
- Replace the despotic rule under the absolutist emperor with democracy centered around parliament elected by the people;
- Stop the war of aggression and military interventions in Asian countries and liberate Korea and Taiwan from Japanese colonial rule;
- Defend the livelihoods of all working people and establish their political and social rights, in particular the right to vote for all men and women 18 and older.
The JCP, which stood firmly for these demands, was persecuted as a criminal organization by the emperor system government and many JCP members fell victim to the brutality.
Despite all this, the JCP never folded its flag, which was defended firmly by JCP members. A list of the victims of repression includes JCP leading members such as ICHIKAWA Shoichi, KOKURYO Goichiro, NORO Eitaro, IWATA Yoshimichi, UEDA Shigeki, KAWAI Yoshitora and KOBAYASHI Takiji, as well as many unknown young men and women.
Let me read a tanka poem for you. It is dedicated to a woman who fell victim to the brutal repression.
A young woman, who fell halfway before achieving the lofty aim, will be remembered in the light of a new era.
This poem was written by TSUCHIYA Bunmei, an Araragi School tanka poet. He wrote it to mourn the death of ITO Chiyoko, a young woman and one of his students, who died at 24. It was first published in "Araragi" magazine.
The prewar history of the JCP's struggles is studded with countless stories about struggles and JCP members' dedication. One typical example was MIYAMOTO Kenji. He was arrested in 1933. He was 25 and was a young member of the JCP Central Committee. He was released in October 1945 after an indomitable struggle waged for 12 years for justice, first in prison and then in the courts.
Until the war's end, all political parties except the JCP assisted the government in promoting the war of aggression. The JCP was the only political party that resolutely opposed the war at the risk of life. History has proven that the JCP, which defended its cause at the cost of life, stood for the mainstream of 20th century history.
The question of who represents the genuine mainstream of history was again posed after the end of the war, when the process of transition to democracy began.
People's sovereignty is now an established principle of Japanese politics. When the debate began about replacing the old constitution, which gave the emperor absolute power, with a new constitution based on democratic principles, the JCP was the only political party to call for the principle of people's sovereignty to be firmly established in the new constitution.
I take a pride in the pioneering role the JCP has played. In those dark days before and during the war, the JCP defended the banner of peace and democracy despite brutal repressions, and after the war's end, it led the effort to establish and defend democracy.
I want to stress that this is not just a matter of history. It has in fact important relevance to our times. In the last several years, I have visited China and Southeast Asian countries, and met with South Korean intellectuals in an effort to exchange opinions with as many people in Asian countries as possible. Throughout these trips, I could really appreciate how significant the role the JCP is playing in present-day international relations.
Let me give you some examples.
Four years ago, I visited China for the first time in 32 years to meet with the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party after resolving the problem of the interference China carried out against the JCP during the Mao Zedong era.
During that trip, I visited the Chinese People's Anti-Japanese Aggression War Memorial Hall. It is located near Lu Gou Bridge (Marco Polo Bridge), where Japan started a full-scale aggression in China (July 1937). Among the exhibits, I saw a declaration jointly issued by the Japanese Communist Party and the Communist Party of China in protest against the Japanese invasion of China. It was dated September 20, 1931. Japan began the invasion of the Northeast region of China on September 18 that year. That's the "Manchurian Incident." So two days after the start of the invasion, the JCP and the CPC issued a declaration in opposition to the aggression. I think this is a vivid illustration of the fact that the JCP's resolute struggle against the war of aggression continues to live in the form of Japan's solidarity with other Asian countries today.
The communist party is banned in many countries in Asia in relation to the political history of those countries. So it's little wonder Asian people are generally guarded in dealing with communism. But if you visit these countries and let people know that there is a communist party in Japan, which opposed the Japanese war of aggression and colonization of Asian countries, people get friendly toward Japanese people. And this can be the beginning of a closer friendship based on mutual trust. I have had many such experiences.
By contrast, any irresponsible remarks or activities on the part of the Japanese government that gloss over its past atrocities bring about serious antagonisms between Japan and the Asian nations and imperil their good relations, as we have witnessed on many occasions.
Japan is the only Asian country that colonized or waged an expansionist war against its Asian neighbors during the modern and contemporary periods that followed the Meiji Restoration. I think every Japanese politician and every Japanese citizen is duty bound to face this historical fact. Only through serious recognition of the historical fact and a clear expression of self-criticism can we establish true friendship between the Japanese people and the peoples of Asian countries.
The remarks and actions of some Japanese politicians, including the prime minister's official visit to Yasukuni Shrine and the publication of controversial history textbooks, obviously run counter to the course of history. We need to warn strongly against the danger that they may undermine the basis of the friendly relations between Japan and other Asian countries.
Another major change Japan underwent in the 20th century was that Japan, after its defeat in World War II, downgraded itself to be a U.S. subordinate.
I said earlier that the 20th century world was characterized by the trends towards achieving national sovereignty and independence. It would be appropriate to say that Japan's subordination to the United States goes against the historical movement towards independence for every nation.
Japan acknowledged its defeat in the war by accepting the Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender (Potsdam Declaration), which contained the conditions for Japan's surrender jointly imposed by the Allies. In order to ensure that the Potsdam Declaration be implemented fully, the Allies placed Japan under their occupation. The measure had international legitimacy. However, no one at that time predicted that the occupation would last so many years, even into the 21st century.
The Potsdam Declaration stipulated: "The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government" (Clause 12).
But later, taking advantage of the fact that the occupation forces in Japan were made up mainly of Americans, the U.S. government insidiously replaced the joint occupation by the Allies with a solely U.S. occupation. The U.S. thus began planning to incorporate Japan into its military strategy by turning Japan into a permanent U.S. base.
This was precisely how Japan's submission to the United States began.
A U.S. plan for using Japan as its subordinate ally became real when two treaties were concluded in 1951 in San Francisco, where the Peace Conference was held: the Peace Treaty with Japan and the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. That was about 1,300 years since Japan had its first written history Never before in its history had Japan been subordinated to a foreign country.
Note that it happened at a time when the world dominant trend was one of establishing the right to self-determination, sovereignty and independence for every nation, a trend that helped most colonized countries achieve political independence and emerge as important forces in international politics.
How extraordinary it is for Japan, one of the world's major economies with a population of more than 120 million, to continue to be subordinate to a foreign country for more than half a century.
The main pillar that supports Japan's subordination to the United States is the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which is more than half a century old.
The Japan-U.S. Security Treaty is a treaty to force Japan to accept the military base structure that existed in Japan under occupation by the Allies. This is why no political party except the Liberal and Democratic parties - predecessors of the present ruling Liberal Democratic Party - was in favor of the treaty when it was signed.
In 1955, the Liberal and Democratic parties merged to form the Liberal Democratic Party. The political program published at its founding called for preparations for the withdrawal of foreign troops at the end of a section on "Consolidation of the nation's independence." Thus, even the new party had to call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops as one of its objectives.
The present Japan-U.S. Security was imposed in 1960 in the form of a revision of the 1951 treaty. The Japanese Communist Party and the Socialist Party of Japan joined together in the struggle against the treaty revision. Although the Democratic Socialist Party did not join the JCP-SPJ common front, it was reluctant to vote in favor of the new treaty in the Diet. Eventually the new Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was ratified by an absolute majority of the LDP.
The Komei Party, which was founded in 1964, initially adopted a "policy of phased abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty." So it was an advocate of "a Japan without the Security Treaty" as one of its objectives.
In the early 1970s, shortly after I was first elected to the House of Representatives, no political party except the LDP publicly expressed support for the revised Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
Following an electoral setback, the Komei Party hurriedly began to call for the "immediate abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty" apparently to regain its popular support.
Later, however, the Komei Party and the Democratic Socialist Party changed their positions and supported the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. The Social Democratic Party followed this by adopting a right-leaning policy and finally declared its support for the treaty at the time of Prime Minister MURAYAMA Tomiichi's Cabinet.
Remember that in the 1951 Diet which approved the first Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, and also in the 1960 Diet which ratified the revision of the treaty, only the LDP or its predecessor parties voted in favor. All the other parties that now support the treaty have changed their original policies adopted in the 1950s, 1960s or in the early 1970s.
At present, not only the three ruling coalition parties, but also all the opposition parties except the JCP support the treaty. Frankly, this fact represents the biggest weakness of Japan's political world in dealing with the major issue of national sovereignty and independence.
Champions of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty argue that the present state of Japan-U.S. relations is quite normal in that our two countries are allies. But in the present-day world, no country, except Japan, accepts such a submissive position in an alliance like the Japan-U.S. Security.
Let me cite two hard facts that show what this subordination is about.
One is the way the United States maintains its military presence in Japan. In Okinawa, local people are obliged to live amidst U.S. bases. What's more, the United States is free to use these bases for any war it wants to start. That's how a Japanese province with a population of 1.3 million is treated.
In metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Japan's capital, where 33 million people live, the United States maintains large military bases, including the huge U.S. Yokota Air Base and U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base which is the homeport for a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group. A large number of residents are suffering in many ways from these bases. Do you know any other country in the world that allows such a large foreign military presence near their capitals?
What about Japan's foreign policy? Since the end of World War II, there have been countless U.S. actions that came under international criticism for undermining the international peace and trampling down democratic principles. They include the war of aggression against Vietnam in the 1960s and the 1970s, military interventions in Central American countries in the 1980s, and more recently, the preemptive strike strategy using the logic of an "axis of evil."
Despite all this, Japan has never said "No" to U.S. actions concerning major international issues. Japan's submission to the U.S. is getting even deeper under the Koizumi Cabinet. Isn't it a shame that we cannot but admit that Japan is a dependent nation in terms of foreign policy?
Although it has taken the form of an equal "alliance," the treaty coldly imposes the imperialistic domination on Japan, a subordinate.
I believe that one of Japan's essential national tasks in the 21st century is to make a break away from its present position to fully recover its place fully as a genuinely sovereign nation.
During the era of U.S. occupation, anyone who criticized the occupation policy would be arrested by the U.S. forces and sent into forced labor. Already in those days, the JCP was opposed to the policy of making Japan a dependent of the United States; it fought for the "strict implementation of the Potsdam Declaration" and the "complete independence of Japan" (JCP 6th Congress decision, 1947).
Maintaining this principle, we are consistently striving to break free from the Japan-U.S. military alliance, the basis for Japan's submission to the United States, and to set out to achieve a non-aligned, neutral, and independent Japan, which is the key issue concerning Japan's future course.
This is the way for us to secure Japan's hopeful future. I assure you that the day will come in the early part of the 21st century when calls for peace will converge to form a larger anti-military alliance current that will push the Japanese government into notifying the United States of the abrogation of the security treaty in accordance with Article 10.
The 20th century world after World War II faced the major issue of the Soviet Union's hegemony.
The Soviet Union touted itself as the world's first "socialist state," and one of the pillars of the democratic camp that defeated fascism and militarism in World War II. In reality, however, under the Stalin regime, the Soviet Union was already straying from a path of socialism. The Soviet Union came under a regime that sought annexation and domination of neighbors and carried out repression of its own people.
Since this fact was maintained under the guise of "socialism," the JCP needed time and experience before discovering and understanding the true colors of the Soviet Union and putting up a fight against their high-handedness.
The JCP's first head-on clash with Soviet hegemony came as we experienced the so-called "1950 Question," which was about Soviet interference with the JCP. Stalin at the time planned to force the JCP to join with the Communist Party of China, in the aftermath of the victorious Chinese Revolution, and carry out a Chinese-style armed struggle in Japan. That interference caused a split of the JCP into two factions. One of them, known as the "Tokuda-Nosaka Group, "was completely incorporated itself into the foreign interference operation. Receiving instructions directly from Stalin, it built a base in Beijing and introduced into Japan an adventurist policy called "Military Orientation".
The facts of the affair came to light when secret Communist Party of the Soviet Union documents were made known after the collapse of the Soviet Union. These documents show that NOSAKA Sanzo, the Japanese mastermind behind the interference, was engaging in activities in China's Yanan. Right after Japan's defeat, Stalin secretly called for him to come to Moscow and gave him a secret assignment to act as a Soviet spokesman in Japan. The assignment led to the so-called "1950 Question." But eventually, the interference ended up in a total fiasco.
JCP cadres and bodies that opposed a party split and the adoption of an armed struggle policy played a significant role in the struggle to settle the "1950 Question."
The JCP persevered and finally succeeded in restoring party unity. In its two congresses, the 7th in 1958 and the 8th in 1961, the JCP drew lessons from the bitter experience and established a new JCP programmatic line.
One was the establishment of sovereign independence for the JCP. Experience taught us the important lesson that the JCP must be free from preconceptions that "the Soviet Union and China are infallible" and try to solve in our own any problems of Japan under any circumstances, without leaving room for outside interference or intervention.
The other is that the JCP adopted its program after a long discussion in the post-war period. The JCP experience of the "1950 Question" was used fully in establishing the JCP Program, including the clear acknowledgement that the armed struggle policy brought in from outside was wrong.
In this sense, these two JCP congresses marked an important turning point in the history of the JCP after World War II. In particular, the establishment of the JCP's sovereign independence later exerted greater power, which was never paralleled in the world, in the struggle against the attempt of the Soviet Union and China's Mao Zeroing group to openly take control of communist parties throughout the world.
At the time, following Stalin's death, communist parties were supposed to be equal in international relations, and sovereign independence was supposed to be an obvious principle. But very few were serious enough to put these declared principles into practice.
Seeing that the JCP declared its sovereign independence, both in Japan and internationally, the CPSU thought that this could be a hindrance to its activities and decided to make the JCP subservient to the CPSU. This was the reason for CPSU interference against the JCP in the 1960s. The new large-scale interference began in 1964. (See FUWA Tetsuzo's "Interference and Betrayal--Japanese Communist Party Fights Back against Soviet Hegemonism" -1993).
The JCP resolutely fought back against Soviet interference and defeated it completely. Fifteen years after the start of its interference, the CPSU finally admitted that the interference had been wrong.
The repeated acts of Soviet interference served as strong evidence for the JCP to recognize the Soviet Union as a country that had definitely thrown away the principle of socialism.
We not only fought back against the Soviet interference, but also severely criticized other outrageous Soviet actions which violated national sovereignty or undermined the international peace, including the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and the 1979 aggression against Afghanistan, which were absolutely incompatible with socialism.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 came shortly after the JCP-CPSU meeting in which the CPSU leader acknowledged that it had been a mistake to interfere in the JCP. At the JCP 15th Congress in February 1980, we denounced the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the presence of CPSU representatives.
No other communist party in the world at the time dared to openly denounce the CPSU as the JCP did. European communist parties, including the Italian and French communist parties, did issue statements or comments saying that they cannot support such interference in communist parties of other countries, but they at the same time would never fail to add that their solidarity with the Soviet Union would remain unchanged. Thus, they did not go farther than just saying they can't support such an action. That was how they tried to avoid being criticized.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, when we met and talked with leadership members of European communist parties with whom we improved relations, they admitted that the JCP's criticism of the CPSU stood out and that their position was so insignificant that it could not even get closer to the JCP.
When the CPSU finally ceased to exist in 1991, we published a statement welcoming it as an end of the "historical colossal evil." It was not a mere expression of the event at the time, but a reflection of what we felt after the long struggle we had waged since the 1960s.
These differences in attitude towards Soviet hegemony have led the communist parties equally to different positions, particularly those parties in developed capitalist countries.
In the 1990s and after, communist party activities in many countries are said to have ebbed. So the JCP's vigor is often viewed in wonder.
That's no wonder. Remember that the JCP established sovereign independence in the early postwar years, and has since resolutely opposed any outside interference with the Japanese movement or any violation of Japan's national sovereignty by any foreign party or government, in particular by Soviet hegemony. This is the source of the vigor, which the JCP maintains today.
As I said, most European communist parties stopped short of denouncing outright the invasion of Czechoslovakia or the invasion of Afghanistan. When secret Soviet documents were made available after the CPSU was dissolved, we discovered that these European communist parties had long received huge amounts of Soviet funding. This was why they were unable to fight against Soviet hegemony.
What's more, the French Communist Party (PCF) and the Italian Communist Party (PCI) failed to face up to their past and correct the mistakes. I think that without doubt this was a major cause of their serious political setbacks in the 1990s, coupled with their ambivalent stance concerning formation of government.
A couple of months ago, two important elections were held in France: a presidential election in April and the general election in June. Since the end of WWII, the French Communist Party long maintained a electoral strength of over 20 percent. But in the latest presidential election, the PCF candidate only received 3.6 percent of the votes cast, falling into the 11th position among 16 candidates. In the general election, the PCF got only 4.9 percent. This represents such a major defeat for the PCF that made the media call the PCF's raison d'etre into question.
In Italy, the communist party avoided facing up to the question of the Soviet Union; it tried to dodge the fallout of the Soviet Union by giving up both the theory of scientific socialism and the name of communist party in the early 1990s. The party changed its name to the Democratic Party of the Left.
In those days, many people of good will suggested that the JCP change its name just as the PCI had done. However, what happened in Italy was not a successful "operation for survival." The 1992 general election was the first election for the Italian party to ran candidates under the new party name, and the number of votes it received was four million less than what it scored in the previous election in 1987 as the PCI, the worst setback it had ever experienced since the end of WWII. Later, it recovered part of the positions it had lost and participated in a center-left government, but in the general election last year, it suffered another defeat that broke the previous record.
These developments remind me of what the JCP experienced at the 1960 Moscow meeting that brought together the communist and workers parties from 81 countries of the world. It was the largest international conference ever held since the end of WWII. It took two months to complete all sessions that included preliminary meetings. It was at this international meeting that the JCP received undivided attention because it internationally declared its sovereign independence. Specifically, MIYAMOTO Kenji, who led the JCP delegation, clearly opposed a proposal to accord the CPSU a special role.The JCP was the only party at the meeting to openly oppose that proposal.
However, the JCP had just restored party unity and its strength and influence were still small. In a general election held in parallel with the international meeting of Communist and Workers parties right after the great struggle against the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, the JCP obtained only 2.9 percent of the votes cast. As the PCF and PCI were strong enough to score more than 20 percent in the general elections in those days, their delegates to the conference may have been puzzled by the strong voice of dissent by the small JCP
During the last 40 years, things have changed. The PCI, which used to be the largest communist party in the capitalist countries, has transformed itself into a social democratic party. The PCF, which was the second largest communist party after the PCI, is now a minor party with a vote getting strength of three to four percent. By contrast, the JCP has steadily grown and achieved a series of successes in the elections during the 1990s despite occasional setbacks.
At present, the JCP has a membership of more than 400,000, an Akahata readership of about two million, 40 seats in the diet (parliament) and about 4,400 local assembly members. The JCP is now the largest communist party in the developed capitalist countries.
These figures show the important gains the JCP achieved during the 20th century, proving the appropriateness of the JCP course and its policies. Above anything else, I must emphasize that all these achievements were made possible by all JCP members in their day-to-day efforts.
The recent summit of the major capitalist countries decided to add Russia as a full summit member. The seven founding members are developed countries. Among these countries, Japan is the only country in which a communist party is active with the largest membership in the capitalist countries. Again, this is one of the very important characteristics of Japan's politics in the 21st century.
Before finishing my comments related to the Soviet Union, I would like to touch upon the territorial dispute between Japan and the Soviet Union, now Russia.
We have analyzed issues concerning the Soviet Union from the position of not tolerating its hegemony or great-power chauvinism in connection with Japan-Soviet relations that involve the territorial question.
The crux of the dispute between the two countries over the Chishima Islands and Habomai and Shikotan islands is the unlawful practice of the Soviet territorial expansionism.
After WWII, the Allies promised to the world that any territory taken by force by a country from another country would be returned, but that they observe the principle of territorial non-expansion by the victorious nations in the postwar settlement. According to this principle, Japan has territorial rights not only over Habomai and Shikotan islands, which are historically part of Hokkaido, but also over the Chishima Islands, which became Japan's territory under a peace treaty called Karafuto (Sakhalin)-Chishima (Kurile) Exchange Treaty concluded in 1875 between Japan and Russia. For the Soviet Union to claim these Japanese islands amounts to a flagrant violation of the democratic principle declared by the Allies which included the Soviet Union.
This is why the JCP has insisted that the Soviet Union should end Stalin's unjustifiable expansionism and return the Chishima Islands as well as Habomai and Shikotan islands, which are historically part of Japan, in compliance with the democratic principle of territorial non-expansion.
We have said that the great cause Japan should maintain consists of correcting this expansionist error committed by Stalin and restoring the principle of territorial non-expansion. But the LDP and the government have refused to do so. All they have done so far in dealing with the territorial question is state their internationally unfounded interpretation of treaties in the Diet; they remain unable to stand for an internationally acceptable position consistent with international law.
Unable to appeal to international opinion or Russian public opinion with a well-founded argument supported by the great cause concerning Japan's claim, the LDP and the government have placed the emphasis on friendship between Japanese and Russian leaders hugging each other and on economic assistance to the Russian-held "Four Northern Islands" in expectations of a favorable response from Russia. This was what LDP government diplomacy has been all about. This has also been the root cause of SUZUKI Muneo's politicking in favor of greater entrenched interests.
We must stress that a rational settlement of the territorial dispute with Russia urgently calls for an overall review of the current Japanese foreign policy, a review that goes deep into these underlying questions.
Although we have only entered the 21st century, the future general course for Japan and the world seems to have become quite foreseeable.
Karl Marx is the first person to apply a "scientific view" to analyze the capitalist world in which we live. He showed clearly that capitalist society is not natural and is not an eternal form of society; it only marks one historical stage which necessarily advances to higher stages of socialism and communism.
He came to believe that capitalism will be replaced by another social system not because he foresaw a decline in its power. What he discovered was that the essence of capitalism is indefinite expansion of "production for production's sake." This expansion will at some point clash with the tight framework of capitalism, which is a society based on exploitation.
From the 19th century to the early 20th century, Marx, Engels, and Lenin thought that contradictions and clashes under capitalism reached their limits, that its durable years would come to an end soon. Even with a "scientific view," they couldn't foresee accurately on this question. Capitalism did achieve enormous development during the advanced age of imperialism in the 20th century.
But in the 21st century, I feel acutely the advent of an era in which the very viability of capitalism will be called into question.
My Akahata Festival speech last autumn focused on the global environment, specifically dealing with such issues as the holes in the ozone layer and global warming which are threats caused by capitalism engaging in an endless expansion of production. We are now in a stage where the capitalist system's ability to govern is called into question.
The present-day world faces many more problems such as the worldwide repetition of economic depression and recession, the North-South problem which affects the fate of Asian, Middle Eastern, African, and Latin American people, who account for a majority of the world's population.
All these problems show that as we have entered the 21st century,the world is facing a critical stage where capitalism's viability will be called into question.
In fact, this is not just my personal prediction. In the realm of economics, so-called modern economics has been a trend that has developed as an antithesis of Marx's theory on capitalism. Even some modern economists are expressing their sense of the crisis of capitalism in the 21st century.
For example, last month, a Japanese modern economist published a book. The author, who introduced himself as a consistent, quite staunch modern economist, implied between the lines a deep apprehension about the present situation relating to capitalism.
He states that capitalism has four things that are untenable, the first being the ill of "expansion." To begin with, if you discuss exploitation as something impossible, capitalism will lost its rationale. Then comes "karoshi," or death from overwork, followed by those of "imperialist aggression" and "destruction of the global environment."
These untenable things were more or less kept under control thanks to theories or movements that followed Marx that squarely condemned these outrages as well as the existence of social systems in opposition to capitalism, no matter what colors it may have taken on. However, the Soviet Union's collapse left no visible rivalry This prompted the evil aspects of capitalism to go wild, mainly in the United States without arousing voices of condemnation.
The author goes as far as to admit that he is "disappointed with economics." His sense of crisis goes that far.
Some people may contend that the world does not look like that on the grounds that U.S. hegemony is raging.
True, in international politics dangerous U.S. ambitions are at present trying to put the world under U.S. control. The United States rejects any international agreement that it finds unpleasant, whether it is the Kyoto Protocol or the U.N. Charter. We see such arrogance present everywhere. We must recognize it as a grim reality.
At the same time, it is also an important reality that even an overpowering superpower cannot change rules arbitrarily.
Look at the World Cup soccer events. It showed in concrete terms that in soccer, too, Europe isn't the world's center; the world has changed to one in which all five continents have their roles to play. I think this symbolizes the on-going change and its direction taking place in the 21st century.
There will certainly be great power that will help the world make progress.
The first thing I want to point out is that about 100 years ago, no country in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, or Latin America was accepted as part of world politics. These countries have achieved political independence and developed as major international political forces. What's more, they now feel acutely from their experiences that capitalism is not effective in assuring the great majority of the world population a future.
There's a lot of talk throughout the world calling for an era that will replace capitalism. Those voices may not necessarily merge with the great historical current towards socialism but without doubt they form one of the major dynamic forces of the 21st century.
Secondly, although the Soviet Union is gone, projects of socialism associated with Lenin are not.
There are countries tackling new projects of socialism, including China, Vietnam, and Cuba. "Socialism through a market economy" pursued by these countries is precisely what Lenin proposed but was thrown away by Stalin. This is a path no one has ever traveled through, so there will be many unpredictable difficulties down the road. I have no doubt, however, that results of this trial will have a great impact on the course the world will go through in the 21st century.
Last but not least, the highly developed capitalist countries are the focus of attention concerning the question of whether capitalism should continue or not. Here exists a complicated reality of politics and economics over which various trends are whirling.
If capitalism is called into question in the 21st century, the movement for social progress in the developed capitalist countries will, after many probable twists and turns, be one of the driving forces of world history, and it will be far greater than in the 20th century in terms of magnitude and scope.
In contrast, Japan really is in a disarray under the LDP government, and the JCP has a greater role to play.
Let me begin with the course the JCP envisages for Japan's social progress.
Society develops step by step, not at a stroke by someone's wishful thinking. This is the crux of our belief. Even more so today, when people's sovereignty is the fundamental principle of politics. Any reform is only possible when the time is ripe with the conditions maturing, based on the consent and agreement of the people; social progress can only be made step by step.
This is precisely what we set forth when we adopted the JCP program four decades ago. Some of our members insisted that the JCP's immediate goal should be socialism. Rejecting it, we adopted a program that calls for a democratic revolution, which Japanese society needs and which will serve the interests of the majority of the people.
The JCP Program is written in revolutionary terms but it is a policy statement that propounds the immediate central task for social progress in Japan, which is to secure national sovereignty and independence by casting off subordination; achieve far-reaching changes in politics and the economy; and seek democratic change within the framework of capitalism instead of immediate socialist changes.
It may be appropriate to say that political history in Japan since the 1960s has been featured by confrontation between two currents: one represented by the LDP, which maintains the profit-first, pro-business principle and military and foreign policy submissive to the United States, and the other by the JCP, which strives to achieve change in the interests of the people.
We are now proposing to "remake Japan." It represents concrete policy proposals the JCP has developed during the last 40 years through discussions with the public and based on Japan's social reality.
It is important to note that at the beginning of the 21st century, no one can deny that LDP politics has reached an impasse and failed.
Earlier, I said that capitalism is deepening its contradictions everywhere throughout the world, but Japan's contradictions are particularly terrible and have no parallel.
Recently, government and LDP officials were angered by a major cut in Japan's national bonds rating by the international credit rating firm Moody's Investors Service. Japan's economy is in extraordinary conditions that no one can dispute.
In Japan, people's livelihoods are afflicted by "capitalism without rules." Corruption involving politicians, bureaucrats, and business circles is in a terrible state. Also, it is all too clear that the structure of the Japanese economy is an anomaly.
An international evaluation of the economic policy of a country can be best measured with its fiscal and financial conditions.
Japan's debts (balance of long-term debts), national and local combined, is expected to be 693 trillion yen, or 140 percent of GDP, at the end of March 2003. It is usually 50-60 percent with the U.S. and European countries. None of the other major countries has this bad fiscal failure.
What about the monetary situation in Japan? The government is so concerned with the write-off of non-performing loans and fails to see another (and more important) problem, which is the near-zero interest rate policy. The official discount rate has been under 1 percent over the last seven years, and the current rate is 0.1 percent. This is unprecedented in the capitalist world.
I hear that no country except Japan in the 20th century cut their official discount rates below 1 percent. What's more, a 0.1 percent rate literally represents an extreme situation. Take a look at the current public discount rates in major countries: 3.25 percent in euro-Europe, 4 percent in Britain, 1.25 percent in the United States, and 2.50 percent in South Korea. The Japanese government seems to be unaware how extraordinary it is to keep the rate as low as 0.1 percent.
Fiscal and financial means are essential for reconstructing the economy. The problem is that both these two means have failed and are in a complete disarray.
This is where LDP politics now stands. Isn't it clear that the need now is to break away from LDP politics and reconstruct Japan to defend the interests of the people?
In foreign relations, Japan's diplomatic presence in the international scene is nil. The question is raised about whether Japan has any role to play as a member of the international community in the 21st century.
I spoke about dialogues and exchanges we recently had with people from other Asian countries. On those occasions, many of them referred to weaknesses in Japan's diplomacy.
First, Japan has not admitted that its past war of aggression and colonization against Asian countries was wrong.
Second, the Japanese government lacks a foreign policy and accepts everything the United States says.
Thirdly, Japan is only interested in responding militarily to any issue, instead of trying to use a peace strategy to establish peaceful international relations.
Japan will not be able to establish true friendship and trust with other Asian countries without breaking away from this miserable state of affairs, which we can no longer leave as is. Clearly, the military alliance called the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty is the source of the problem. But even before a majority of the Japanese people forms a consensus on the need to abrogate the treaty, we must tackle the urgent task of changing Japan's diplomacy to an independent one so that Japan's diplomacy can play a role in the world.
What we have experienced through our opposition party diplomacy shows that Japan can only earn trust and respect from the rest of the world when it sets out to follow an independent foreign policy devoted to peace.
This illustrates the present stage of the confrontation between LDP politics and the movement for democratic change which the JCP has called for. The present state of Japan, both the economy and foreign policy, calls for a real change and not a lip service that can deal with the root cause of the LDP's misgovernment. Such a reform will not be achieved by minor adjustments, much less within the framework of LDP politics.
That's why "remaking Japan" becomes necessary. Let us devote all
our energies to developing a path toward remaking Japan in the early part of
the 21st century.
If we achieve the "remaking of Japan," it will give Japan's economic and foreign policies new vitality for serving the interests of the people and also give us a new perspective for the future.
One thing that I have to add is that the JCP puts forward not only policies for immediate changes but also prospects for the future in the tumultuous 21st century. At the JCP 22nd Congress two years ago, we set forward three angles to discuss about the future society of socialism and communism.
First, in trying to discuss anything about the future, it is important to recognize and denounce the political, economic and social system of the former Soviet Union as a repressive society that had nothing in common with socialism.
Internationally, some people still cling to the view that former Soviet society was a "socialist" society, the logic that a diamond on a dunghill is still a diamond. This view, however, ignores the essence of socialism, which is to seek the emancipation of humankind and the building of a society in which humankind is sovereign.
We must not tolerate the re-emergence of any repressive regime under the guise of socialism.
Second, we are aiming for socialism by inheriting and further developing all valuable achievements gained in the era of capitalism. This is not what we began to argue in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse; it is the position we have maintained since the days when the Soviet Union was touting Soviet society as a developed socialist society and behaving arrogantly as one of the superpowers in the world. At the JCP 13th Extraordinary Congress in 1976, we published the "Manifesto on Freedom and Democracy" to declare that the full-fledged development of democracy and freedom has been what socialism is about since the era of Marx and Engels.
The various elements set out in the document include a political system that allows the existence of plural political parties and a change of government through elections and a market economy that guarantees the freedom to choose commodities to sell or buy. The "Manifesto" also envisages a socialism that will not give a particular world outlook a privileged position. In sum, every one of these items in the "Manifesto" reflects our severe condemnation of any Soviet-type regimes.
Clearly, the path of social development differs from one country to another in terms of social system to be created as well as approaches toward it.
Even so, we are convinced that the 21st century will see social progress go hand in hand with the development of freedom and democracy in a global current that will bring together all national efforts for social development.
Thirdly, our objective is to overcome the profit-first principle and abolish exploitation in human society.
A while ago, I cited some of the difficulties facing the present-day world. The root cause of these difficulties is the prevailing profit-first principle.
Look, the economy serving the best interests of large corporations free of regulations has destroyed what might be called the "global life-support systems," including the ozone layer that protects humankind and all other living things from ultraviolet rays and the atmosphere that keeps the amount of carbon dioxide at low levels. Also, the economy led by large corporations without regulations is the biggest stumbling block to the movement for the protection of such life-support systems and to the implementation of urgent measures such as the Kyoto Protocol. All these problems explain what this problem is all about.
To begin with, the belief that "money talks" or that the pursuit by individual corporations of maximum profit is the primary driving force that propels politics and the economy is not the common feature of human societies; it is a feature of capitalism which is a part of the long history of humanity. In the thousands of years since the dawn of history, the era of capitalism only covers some hundred years. In Japan, the capitalist era is much shorter. It's just over a hundred and thirty years since Japan ushered in capitalism with the "Meiji Restoration" (1868).
Capitalism is now being called into question regarding its ability to exist on our planet. At this juncture, isn't it natural that humankind should try to seek a more rational society in which humankind is sovereign?
When intellectuals from the Northeast Asian countries of Japan, South Korea and China met in South Korea in November last year for a discussion, they predicted that the 21st century is a century of the accelerated development of post-capitalist society. It will be correct to say that this indicates that the quest for a society that overcomes the profit-first principle is on the global agenda in the 21st century.
We are determined to address this great cause of social progress in Japan and the world by making use of what the world experienced in the 20th century as assets and maintaining the great ambition and vision exhibited.
On the occasion of the 80th founding anniversary of the Japanese Communist Party, I have discussed several important issues concerning the past, present and future of the JCP.
When our predecessors founded the JCP 80 years ago, it was literally a tiny group of pioneers. The number of people who joined the JCP during the first year was a little more than 100. In addition, the incipient party was exposed to harsh attacks, persecution and repression that were beyond description. The light lit by the JCP was no more than a glimmer, but what heralded Japan's post-war change toward peace and democracy was that little light which the JCP lit 80 years ago calling for democracy in which people are sovereign and politics of peace in opposition to wars of aggression are in place.
In Japanese society, both in the prewar and postwar years, the JCP encountered many hardships. Despite all this, at its 80 anniversary, the JCP has entered the 21st century, a century of turmoil and change, with rich results from the strenuous efforts in the 20th century.
What we have achieved so far is only a first step on the way toward establishing a democratic government and building a society in which "the people are sovereign," but the JCP has advanced to be the largest of communist parties in the developed capitalist countries.
At a time when crises and contradictions are erupting everywhere as a result of the failure of LDP politics, we are the ones who have the JCP Program that shows the way to develop the future in cooperation with the people.
We have a firm view of socialism by which we look to Japan and the world in the 21st century using a "scientific view."
This means that our responsibility for the task is great. Let us develop this great effort in the 21st century by making use of the gains the JCP has made in the 80 years since its founding.
In tackling this task we need to maintain great ambitions. At the same time, we must know that no great task can be accomplished without innumerable steady day-to-day efforts.
I have stressed that the JCP is now the largest of all Communist parties of the developed capitalist countries. This achievement has been made possible by the strenuous efforts made by all JCP members, JCP supporters' association members, and other JCP supporters.What we have achieved in the United Efforts (JCP membership and Akahata readership drive) since last year is the best example of this.
Two years ago, in a speech on the eve of the 21st century, I quoted a saying that human beings make their own history and emphasized that new pages of Japanese history in the 21st century will be written by the Japanese people.
This gathering to mark the JCP founding anniversary is being held at the real beginning of the 21st century. The 80 year history of the JCP since its founding in the 1920s has been recorded by the strenuous efforts by our forerunners to achieve a society in which every Japanese citizen can enjoy happiness based on the belief that the people are sovereign.
Thinking of history, let us inherit the wishes and hopes held by our predecessors and use our wisdom and power fully to develop a new era in which the JCP achieves further development, an era in which the principle that the people are sovereign will come true.
With this I conclude my speech. Thank you for your attention.
(Translation by Japan Press Service)