Hamano Tadao has just explained that I am retiring as Central Committee chair. I offered my retirement after carefully considering the present and future of the Japanese Communist Party.
This decision has something to do with the question of how personnel changes in the JCP leadership should be made.
The JCP has no inner factions or antagonisms over its basic political line. Differences may arise in the course of activities, but we do have established rules to resolve differences through discussions in a positive manner. Achieved through many years of activities, including bitter struggles experienced by our predecessors, our unity is the culmination of those experiences and constitutes a major source of the strength of the JCP.
But there is a problem that calls for caution in this regard. Personnel affairs are one such example. In dealing with the composition of the JCP leadership, if we fail to make a planned effort to take in and strengthen young energy, we might become so conservative as to try to avoid reshuffling the main leadership even when it is necessary to do so.
By and large, this is what I had in mind in proposing to the Standing Executive Committee my resignation as Central Committee chair in preparation for this JCP Congress.
I joined the JCP leadership as Secretariat head at the JCP 11th Congress in 1970. I have since served as Secretariat head, Executive Committee chair, and Central Committee chair. Assuming these different positions, I have for about 36 years worked as a member of the JCP leadership.
Considering my age and health condition, I no longer work in parliament. I now have difficulty taking the lead in election campaigns and other party activities in various fields. In such circumstances it is not appropriate for the party leadership to keep me as JCP chair with ultimate responsibility.
Continuing with such a leadership structure could hamper the efforts to enable younger -- younger than I am -- comrades to give full play to their abilities or to develop their competence. This is the reason I have proposed to step down as Central Committee chair.
What occurred to me at the same time is that communists have a duty and responsibility to maintain a due place of work and use their energy for the party's development as long as they have intellectual and physical strength to exert. From this viewpoint I sought opinions from Standing Executive Committee members about my wish to continue to work in the party center as a Standing Executive Committee member if the new Central Committee permits me to do so. Today, my proposal was approved by the First Central Committee Plenum, so I willingly continue to perform my duty.
It is without a precedent that a person who has stepped down as Central Committee chair continues to work as a Standing Executive Committee member. To begin with, positions in the party are to be distributed based on the collective assessment of conditions concerning abilities and qualities. The JCP Constitution and the JCP's organizational principle does not allow a member to continue to work in the same position until that member retires from the party center, regardless of area of responsibility in the leadership. The Central Committee decision on personnel placement at this time is a practical application of this direction. I hope that this will help make the personnel policy of the JCP more flexible in the future and offer more options.
I want to use this opportunity to tell you one thing concerning the last 36 years. It is about the standing of the Japanese Communist Party in Japanese politics, or about the political struggle relating to the JCP.
Last year I unexpectedly had a chance to review the 36 years of my work.
As I said, I assumed the post of Secretariat head at the JCP 11th Congress in 1970. The JCP in the 1969 general election increased its seats to 14 in the House of Representatives. I was among them starting my career as a Diet member. In the subsequent general election in 1972, the number of JCP seats increased to 38. Joined by a Joint Progressive member and an Okinawa People's Party member, the JCP parliamentary group was made up of 40 members. The JCP at the time was the second largest opposition party after the Socialist Party.
Recalling the situation at that time with the help of media reports in addition to my own memory, I find that the JCP advance had a major impact on Japan's political developments.
Our struggle had a significant impact on politics and attracted media attention on a number of occasions: the struggle to defend the freedom of speech and the press; the advocacy of popular parliamentarianism; the policy of sovereign independence; a thorough investigation of the U.S. military bases in Okinawa following the return to Japan of administrative rights over Okinawa; the effort to expose collusion between the ruling party and some opposition parties; and the effort to develop progressive local government. These struggles were practical applications of the JCP Program. This is how the JCP emerged as a new type of progressive force and attracted media attention as a force that is completely different from the political alignment that came into being in 1955 with the Socialist Party being generally treated as the standard-bearer of the progressive forces.
As a matter of fact, a common front between the JCP, the Socialist Party, and the General Council of Trade Unions of Japan (Sohyo), the biggest trade union organization at the time, greatly developed not only in the peace and democratic movements but in local politics. In the mid-1970s, progressive municipalities increased to embrace 43 percent of the Japanese population, and the issue of forming a progressive united front in national politics began to be studied as a concrete political task. It was in this context that the JCP called for a Democratic Coalition Government to be established in the 1970s. In fact, many people could envision progressive politics replacing Liberal Democratic Party politics. In this political climate, many people were getting more hopeful for the future. Their high expectations were in turn reflected in media reports. It is difficult today to imagine that weekly magazines at that time frequently carried feature articles exploring the possibility of a progressive government, articles which were rather favorable to the JCP.
The ruling forces at that time may not have envisioned such a political situation. Without doubt, they had a serious sense of crisis to the effect that their rule might be endangered if this trend continued.
The JCP by and large had been treated up to that time as an insignificant existence that had undergone suppression by U.S. occupation forces and an ensuing party split in the early 1950s. It was a mere object of repression under the anti-subversive acts law by the Public Security Agency and was not treated as a party that needed serious political consideration.
The JCP, however, was now no longer a party undergoing the turmoil like that caused in 1950 by repression and splits or by foreign interference. The JCP had made a historic beginning after establishing a scientific programmatic line and the position of sovereign independence that rejects outside interference by any foreign forces. The JCP advances in two general elections changed the political scene in just a few years.
That was the time when the ruling forces began to use every possible means to turn the political tide in favor of the forces of reaction. Firmly determined to prevent the critical situation they experienced in the first half of the 1970s from arising again, they started carrying out an all-out political strategy to contain or destroy the JCP in order to maintain their regime.
Their offensive began in 1973 with the LDP calling for the "defense of the free society." Depicting the JCP as a party of violence, dictatorship, and suppression of freedom, they waged a major campaign to "defend Japan" from the JCP. In 1976, they turned the campaign into an intensive anti-communist attack by falsifying prewar history to label the JCP as a party of murderers. In retrospect, this was a major turning point in Japanese politics.
It is important to note that the forces of reaction began to systematically use the mass media in this political strategy. Reports and feature stories that connected the JCP advance with rising expectations for political change quickly disappeared from media reports.
Let me walk you through the last 30 years of political developments.
In the 1980s, the Socialist and Komei parties concluded an agreement in January 1980 to confirm their anti-communist commitment. This triggered the rise of a national political system that made all political parties except the JCP ruling parties. Progressive local governments as well as common struggles in the peace and democratic movement disappeared quickly.
In the 1990s, with deepening contradictions in LDP politics, the "all-are-ruling parties" system got bogged down in a crisis. In a bid to get over this crisis, ruling and opposition parties (except the JCP) joined together to establish a non-LDP coalition government bringing down the fence between them. This led to the establishment of the Hosokawa government. It was under this government that the single-seat constituency system was enacted.
In the early 2000s, a campaign aiming for establishing a two-party system started with the backing of business circles.
The mass media put up what may be described as a "neglecting campaign" to report as little as possible about the JCP and related movements. This extraordinary neglect of the JCP grew steadily each passing year.
The thing is that the intention to contain the JCP has always encompassed all this strategy.
This anti-JCP strategy is precisely what the ruling forces have used as their main political strategy for the last 30 years. Is there any country in the world in which the ruling forces are trying to contain the communist party using such a structure, energy, and determination? I don't think there is any such example in the world's capitalist countries. Perhaps we should add the fourth aberration to the three aberrations that this Congress has pointed out. (The three aberrations are (1) justifying the past war of aggression; (2) always acting at the U.S. beck and call; and (3) always acting in the interests of large corporations. - ed.)
Why is the Japanese establishment so determined to "contain the JCP"? I think that there are three main reasons.
One is that the ruling forces are well aware that the JCP is the party that exposes the two immediate evils that are prevalent in Japanese society - national subservience to the United States and the outrageous control by large corporations and financial circles, and that the JCP is serious about ridding society of these evils and bringing about new politics serving the defense of the public interests, national sovereignty, and peace.
The second reason is that they are also aware that the JCP is a political party dedicated to overcoming the evils of capitalism and building a future society in which people are the key players in the true sense of the word and that the JCP is trying to achieve this goal in a reasoned way through the phased development of society and a revolution by the majority.
The third reason is that they know numerous examples from prewar and postwar history showing that the JCP does not yield to any persecution, attacks, or difficulties, that the JCP will not be influenced by bribery or any other backdoor dealings, that the JCP is persistent in standing for its original objectives, and that some day, supported by the broad public, it will come closer to its objective with seriousness and real possibility.
It is for this reason that the JCP's political battle always faces major difficulties and adversity that the other parties do not experience. The JCP has carried out its activities by overcoming many difficulties. We will continue to do so by facing up to any adverse winds, however strong they may be.
Viewed in the context of social progress, isn't it a great honor for the JCP to be a major target of attacks by the ruling forces? You are now witnessing the confrontation between the forces of reaction determined to maintain the status quo and the forces that are determined to achieve social progress in the future.
At the JCP 21st Congress in 1997, we decided to "realize a Democratic Coalition Government in the early part of the 21st century." We can take each step toward this aim only by squarely fighting against the ruling forces' "containment" strategy. Naturally, we have to be prepared for a long and difficult path with many ups and downs.
However, Japanese society keenly needs political change with the establishment of a new democratic government. This is clear from the LDP government's three aberrant policies that have been exposed by the JCP 24th Congress Resolution and numerous examples revealed during the Congress discussion. Whatever difficulties in the way of our struggle for change, the cause of a democratic change in Japanese politics will be able to win support from a majority of people and establish a Democratic Coalition Government. This is why we have confidence in our perspectives.
The new JCP Program is our compass that provides perspectives for solving the immediate problems and envisages the future based on a scientific analysis of domestic and international situations.
We have 24,000 JCP branches throughout the country and they are the vehicles connecting the JCP with the public at the grassroots level in many local communities, workplaces, and on campuses.
We have the Akahata Newspaper that connects the JCP with the public by its reports based on truth and reason, thus contributing to fostering democratic opinion.
These are the party's treasure, something that no other party has. Let us make further efforts to make it bigger and more valuable so that an enlarged JCP with more energy will be able to make a firm advance toward achieving the set aim. Achieving victory in the two major elections in 2007 will be our first major task on our way to fulfill the missions and tasks of the time.
Inscribed in the JCP's name is the 84 years of its indomitable history in which the party, both before and after World War II, fought for social progress, the public interest, peace in Japan and the world. The JCP's name also reflects the lofty objective of socialist/communist society, the most humane society free of exploitation and suppression.
Let us unite under this JCP banner and move forward in high and unyielding spirit to further strengthen the JCP and advance its cause. I would like to express my determination as a member of the JCP to do all I can using my intellectual and physical strength.
- Akahata, January 15, 2006