Understanding Present Situation and Tasks in the Light of Japan's History

FUWA Tetsuzo, Central Committee Chair

August 27 2004

The focal point of the Executive Committee report to this Central Committee Plenum is our struggle against the moves toward a "two-party system." The Executive Committee report raised the question of how to accentuate the value of JCP seats. This position is linked to the decision of the 11th Party Congress in 1970 which formulated the duties of the JCP's activities in the Diet. It was also at that Congress that the concept of people's parliamentarianism was introduced.

In order to clearly perceive the distinct characteristics of the situation we face now, it is important for us to trace back our history to those days and consider the current situation in that context.

In my speech to commemorate the 82 anniversary of the founding of the JCP, I said that the campaign advocating a "two-major-party system" was essentially a product of the crisis of the LDP. This becomes more obvious when we see it in the light of history.

1960s -- Prediction of the JCP as "The last opponent of the LDP in 1970s"

In the 8th Congress in 1961, we adopted the Program that included the policy of "revolution through parliamentary majority." Frankly speaking, however, the JCP had little weight in national politics in the 1960s. In 1960, when the struggle against the revision of the Japan-U. S. Security Treaty was being fought, the JCP had only one seat in the House of Representatives and therefore could not participate in the deliberations at the house special committee on the security treaty. In some general elections that followed, our seats in the House of Representatives in the late 1960s increased to 5. That was where we were in terms of parliamentary activities immediately after adoption of the 1961 Program. We had no definite idea about our role in parliamentary activities. Then in the mid-1960s the Mao Zedong faction of China began interfering in the JCP, and their argument that any emphasis on parliamentary activities and election struggles was revisionism influenced some JCP members, although they were very small in number.

In those days, in the late sixties, LDP Vice-president Kawashima Shojiro said, "The last opponent of the LDP in the 1970s will be the JCP." It was rather admirable for an LDP politician to predict the JCP as a future major opponent when it had only a small number of seats in the Diet.

People's parliamentarianism strategy adopted at the 11th Party Congress in 1970

We won 14 seats in the general election at the end of 1969, and the 1970s started for the JCP with a leap to a double-digit number of seats for the first time in 20 years. In the congress held in the summer of 1970, the JCP described its fundamental attitude toward the Diet activities with the phrase of "people's parliamentarism," and put forward three missions. Before that, activities in the parliament had been always associated with the pre-war catch-phrase, "podium for propaganda and agitation." So the very use of the word "parliamentarianism" was received as a fresh surprise. The three missions were:

1) To reveal the real state of politics to the people;

2) To use the Diet as an arena of struggle to reflect the demands of the people in state administration, including the realization of reforms in the public interest;

3) To strive to establish legally a democratic government based on the majority of seats gained in the Diet.

One of the main achievements of the 11th Congress in 1970 lies in the fact that it gave this concrete form to the Program.

This policy line made a great contribution to our advances. In the 1972 general election, we won 38 seats and became the second largest opposition party.

1970s--Four opposition parties contesting each other to confront the LDP

The political landscape at that time was as follows: On one side, the Liberal Democratic Party held approximately two thirds of the total number of seats; on the other, the four opposition parties, the Socialist Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Komei Party, and the Democratic Socialist Party confronted the LDP. Their attitudes toward LDP policies were different, but all opposition parties were concerted in rejecting the state of affairs regarding the Security Treaty. The Democratic Socialist Party, the most sympathetic to the LDP, held the policy of "Security Treaty without Stationing," opposing the permanent stationing of the U. S. forces in Japan. Also, with regard to policies centered on the interests of big corporations, all the opposition parties assumed more or less critical positions, at least after the JCP made a major advance in the 1972 general election.

Under those circumstances, the yardstick for choosing a political party almost all through the 1970s was: "Which party is capable of actually confronting the LDP?"

Campaign of anti-communist political realignment

The JCP's breakthrough in that election was a surprise for the ruling forces and the LDP.

When even the most far-sighted person in the LDP could visualize the JCP as the last challenger of the LDP in the 1970s, it moved to become the second largest opposition party. It became an imperative task for the ruling forces to reverse this course of development no matter what measures it had to take.

Thus, a grand-scale anti-communist campaign was set up. It had two cornerstones. The one was a Machiavellian attack on the JCP which started with the question of DSP Chair Kasuga Ikko, using a prewar crackdown case under the Public Order Maintenance Law. The other was a Komei-Party-led political maneuver to drag the SPJ into the camp approving the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and excluding the JCP. In the 1970s, broad joint struggles between the SPJ and the JCP aimed at establishing progressive local governments developed, resulting in a nationwide network of them. Also, on the level of national politics, an agreement to work together for a progressive united front was confirmed over and over again at summits between the two parties. The maneuver was for the Komei Party to drive a wedge between the two parties and isolate the JCP.

The maneuver resulted in the "SPJ-Komei agreement" in January 1980 which satisfied the ruling forces, stating their acceptance of the security treaty with the U.S. and exclusion of the JCP.

1980s--Confrontation between "all-are-ruling-parties" forces and the JCP

With this agreement as a turning point, the map of the political world in the 1980s changed completely from that of the 1970s. Acceptance of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty became the common position of all the opposition parties except the JCP. Exclusion of the JCP confirmed in the "SPJ-Komei agreement" was brought into practice inside the Diet and popular movements outside the Diet.

The JCP was excluded from talks between opposition parties. In popular movements, joint struggles between the JCP, SPJ and General Council of Trade Unions of Japan were destroyed and progressive joint struggles in local elections dissolved. The campaigns for exclusion and isolation of the JCP prevailed on a large scale in the 1980s.

The political map changed from the four opposition parties versus the LDP that characterized the 1970s to the "all-are-ruling-parties" camp versus the JCP. It was a difficult time for the JCP, but the basic direction of political development was obvious. The "all-are-ruling-parties" framework could not change the nature of LDP politics turning its back on the people. When its dirty side or its political failures surface, it hurts the entire "all-are-ruling-parties" framework, and public support for them declines. Every time criticism of plutocracy grew in the late 1980s and early 1990s, mass media reported that there was a rising trend of "anticipation of an advance of the JCP" or "earthshaking changes" in the public opinion toward supporting the JCP.

Of course the development of the situation was not simple at all. For instance, the "Tiananmen Square Incident" in 1989 totally changed the situation. But although there were such zigzags, it can be said that the crisis of LDP politics reached its peak in the 1990s when LDP Vice-president Kanamaru Shin was arrested in 1993 for receiving bribery from general contractors. At that time there were also voices for a possible advance of the JCP in the next election.

"Non-LDP" campaign in 1993

Under such circumstances began a new strategy to prepare a substitute of the LDP government to absorb the public criticism of it. Around the dissolution of the House of Representatives in June and the following general election in July 1993, large groups of Diet members left the LDP in a major split, creating a condition for the birth of new parties such as Shinseito (Japan Renewal Party), Sakigake (New Party Harbinger) and Nihonshinto (Japan New Party). To combine these new parties with the existing opposition parties like the SPJ or Komei Party and others to form a "non-LDP" coalition as challenger to the LDP and urge the voters to choose between these two forces--that was the scenario. The "choice between the LDP and non-LDP" was put forward as the prevailing mood of the general election, deliberately producing an environment in which a party like the JCP that belonged to neither of them had no role to play.

The "non-LDP" coalition won that election and Prime Minister Hosokawa Morihiro's cabinet was formed. The undercurrent toward the "two-major-party system" was already present. After seizing power in the form of a coalition of several parties, the Hosokawa cabinet pushed ahead with the election system reform and introduced the single-seat constituency system. When Hosokawa gave up power in April 1994, there was an attempt for an overall merger of the ruling parties at the initiative of Ozawa Ichiro of Shinseito (now a leading member of the Democratic Party of Japan). The true purpose of the attempt may have been to establish the "two-party system" in combination with the single-seat constituency system. The attempt failed due to insufficient prior consensus-building, ending up in a smaller merger into the Shinshinto (New Frontier Party). Power swung back to the LDP that had gone ahead with the coalition with the SPJ. On the side of the "non-LDP" forces, the momentum of mergers and divisions mounted further, so much so that at one time more than ten opposition parties sprang up.

Against this background, people began to pay more attention to the role of the JCP, creating a condition for our advances in elections in the late 1990s.

It is still important to note that the campaign to build a "non-LDP" party as an alternative to absorb the criticism of the LDP was already under way in 1993, and the scenario, albeit abortive, of the "two-major-party system" based on the single-seat constituency system had been drafted by that time.

I will not go into the analysis of the period after 1993, which is available in the Executive Committee Report in detail. But the following point should be noted: the confrontation between the JCP and the "two major parties" dates back to those days.

Long decline and deepening crisis of the LDP politics

Thus, looking back at the history of political development, I think that we must have an accurate understanding of the political characteristics indicated there.

First, the confrontation between the LDP and the four opposition parties in the 1970s, the confrontation between "all the ruling parties" and the JCP in the 1980s, and the present confrontation between the "two major parties" scheme and the JCP are, as a whole, expressions of the long-term decline and deepening crisis of LDP politics. The LDP can no longer retain power by itself, and coalitions with other parties is indispensable for its very survival. The very organizations on which the LDP has been dependent are now in an apparent process of decomposition, plagued with malfunctions appearing all over. Under such circumstances, the "two parties" scheme has been engineered aggressively as a "grand campaign" to sustain the LDP style politics.

Strategic goal of the ruling forces -- suppression of the JCP

Second, the strategic objective consistently pursued by the ruling forces on every phase of this development is to hold back advances by the JCP, and, if possible, to take the offensive and bring it down in a total defeat.

When we made major advances in the 1970s, they came up with a campaign to carry out an anti-communist restructuring of the whole political landscape, paving the way for the "all-are-ruling-parties" framework in the 1980s. This was of course a measure targeting the JCP. But LDP politics were collapsing even under the "all-are-ruling-parties" framework. Then, they ventured a division of the LDP, creating the "LDP versus non-LDP" structure, which changed the political situation completely. This was also intended to, more than anything else, prevent the nationwide criticism of the LDP from resulting in the JCP's advance. When working on the single-seat constituency system as a step toward the "two-major-party system," they went so far as to take special measures to drag the whole of mass media into the pro-single-seat-constituency camp.

Various business organizations took the initiative in the recent "two parties" system scheme through open interference. They gave full support to both "major parties" instead of the LDP alone. This is obviously another countermeasure against the JCP.

The JCP is invariably described as tiny. In truth, far from being tiny, the JCP is regarded as the "main enemy," the most formidable opponent of the ruling forces. That is why they do everything in their power to hold it down and crush it completely at the time of its advances, no matter how insignificant.

There are various stages and phases in our political struggles. It is important for us to fully understand that no matter what the circumstances may be, we always face this same attack; that they change their tactics according to the increasing decline of LDP politics.

For Japanese ruling forces, an advance of the JCP has essentially a different meaning from those of other parties. It means a real change from the present political and economic regime centered on the interests of business circles and the United States. Such a change being absolutely unacceptable to them, their attacks have life-and-death interests for them. This is the quintessence of our struggles.

"Two-major-party system" scheme is their long-term strategy

Third, as the Executive Committee report points out, the "two-major-party system" has not yet been firmly established in Japan.

In fact, we all know that the Democratic Party of Japan which is regarded as an "alternative force" at the moment has many unstable factors.

To begin with, it does not have a normal organizational basis as a political party. Except for the JCP, all the political parties in Japan, compared with those in Europe, have an all-too-common weakness -- dependence on some external organizations such as corporations and industrial organizations, labor unions, and religious organizations, making little if no effort to establish their own organizations to take root among the voters. This weakness appears most strikingly in the DPJ, together with political and organizational confusions due to its patchwork-like foundation. Although we are not in the position to predict how or whether the DPJ will develop from this starting point, we can at least say that the party now has such unstable factors.

What is important here is that no matter what may become of the DPJ, it will stay for quite a long time as a basic strategy of the Japanese ruling forces to promote an alternative to the LDP to prevent people's criticism of LDP politics from leading to support for the JCP. This strategy will remain unchanged, independent of the fate of the DPJ.

I want you to have a full understanding of the far-reaching vision of the strategy proposed by the Executive Committee which will guide our struggles against this political strategy by our opponent.

Even though the ruling forces aim at a "two-major-party system," they probably do not expect an actual change of power between the two parties. They must desire the LDP, which is experienced in governing, to maintain power by forming coalitions with other parties, if necessary.

With a "two-major-party system," the business circles and other ruling forces put forward a "substitute party," which is the DPJ at present, with a view to focusing the voters' interests on the next ruling party and preventing anti-LDP ballots from going to the JCP. How can we overcome this strategy? This is the challenge we must address with a long-term strategy.

If we can overcome this scheme and achieve advances in future elections, it means that the bulwark which the ruling forces have built up with all their might will collapse and that the LDP will face a major crisis. That is why they do their utmost to prevent such a situation from emerging.

The long-term guidance for party activities

In this Central Committee Plenum, we proposed a strategy of laying down a solid base with a long-term vision in every aspect of party activities -- the tasks of building the party for the successor generations, studying the Party Program, developing branch activities closely connected with the people, and maintaining and extending ties with the voters through the newspaper Akahata. It is from this point of view that we constantly stress the important role of the JCP's seats in the Diet in our daily activities. I ask you to follow the set of strategies proposed in this plenum as long-term guidelines for party activities.

I would like to remind you that this is class struggle. "Class struggle" is not just something you read in a textbook on historical materialism. It used to be said that "politics is a central battlefield of class struggles." As I've just outlined the political history in the last decades, every time we made progress, the core unit of the ruling forces came on the scene to hold us back. If the resources in their hands are insufficient, they employ every means conceivable, including anti-communist political realignments and an overall mobilization of mass media. Our struggle against it is the main arena where the power and value of the JCP, the advanced guard exploring the future of Japan, is tested.

When we meet with various difficulties in our daily activities, it is important to deal with them bearing this point of view in mind.

How should we consider the issue of the party name?

Let's take an example of the "party name." We heard voices calling for "reconsideration of the name of the Communist Party" on many occasions after the House of Councilors election. I believe that in most cases they are proposals out of good will, meaning that change of the name may help our party win more seats. However, no one would be more delighted than the ruling forces, if we threw away the name of "Communist Party" and became an ordinary party. Ever since pre-war times the ruling forces have focused their attacks on the JCP, propagating horrendous images of the JCP.

If we succumbed to their attacks and discarded the name of the "communist party," the Japanese ruling forces would be the first to give a shout of triumph. Thus, the issue of "party name" is actually a focal point of class struggle.

In this connection, we can find an interesting example in Italy. The Italian Communist Party (PCI) was the strongest communist party in postwar Europe. In its best days, not only Italian ruling forces but also the U. S. government feared participation of this party in the government. So much so that in 1976, when the PCI gained over 34% of the votes and its participation in the government appeared imminent, four countries, namely, the United States, Great Britain, France and West Germany, issued a declaration of interference, announcing that a participation of the PCI in the government would force an end to economic aid.

In fact, the PCI changed its name to the Democratic Party of the Left in 1991, abandoning the communist flag under the pressure of anti-communism. Contrary to their calculation, the party lost 4 million votes in the general election the next year in 1992. In 1996, they succeeded in participating in a coalition government. But no country, even the United States, opposed its participation in the government since it yielded to anti-communism and threw away the name of communist party. This history lesson teaches us clearly who wishes the hardest for a communist party to cease to be communist by discarding its name.

In our new Program, we made clear once again that while at present making the utmost effort for democratic reform of capitalist society, the JCP strives for a future society beyond capitalism--a society in which people can live together in cooperation in the true sense of the word. The JCP Program illustrates that the vision as a pioneer of such a future society based on social justice is inscribed in the name of the Japanese Communist Party, together with its proud history.

It is important for us to explain these points through dialogue with those people who raise the question about party name out of goodwill.

To foster successors of branches at workplaces is also a class struggle

There is one more issue we addressed in the Executive Committee report -- the issue of branches at workplaces.

I once worked for the labor union in the steel industry for some years in the 1950s. At that time, branches of both the JCP and the SPJ existed in big corporations. In most cases, the SPJ kept labor unions under their control. In the 1960s, however, when management shifted their labor policy too far right for the SPJ, its organizations became almost extinct in the leading corporations. In contrast, the JCP survived all the persecutions and repressions. It happened not only in the steel industry but also in many other industries. Management did everything in their power to crush the JCP organizations, including unlawful discrimination on which we see now a series of judicial victories nationwide. These are victories that were achieved through strenuous struggles against repression by capitalists. The branches in workplaces are our footholds attained and developed through such struggles in big corporations. If we let these footholds disappear because of our failure to foster successors, it will be an enormous setback in the class struggle in Japan. I hope you address this task from this point of view.

It is vital that we treat nothing as business as usual

We run into various difficulties in various fields of our activities. Usually we tend to pay little attention to their significance and treat them in a businesslike manner as routine practices. But our opponents recognize in their own ways that anything relating to the JCP is a matter of class struggle and deal with it in a very conscious way. Since doing away with the JCP has so much to do with their fundamental interest, namely, maintaining their rule indefinitely, they don't care how much money it takes as long as it helps them achieve this goal, even if it contradicts their interest-first ideology. This is the essence of their class-conscious spirit.

We cannot fall behind them in terms of class-consciousness. We must treat our activities in any field whatsoever not as mere routine practices or daily bureaucratic assignments, but as fields in our struggle, with resolution commensurate with our goals.

I hope that you receive the strategy we proposed here to fight against the "two-major-party" scheme from this point of view.

The value of the JCP's seats and achievements of its opposition party diplomacy

Lastly, regarding the value of the JCP seats, we specified in 6 points the three tasks of Diet activities adopted at the 11th JCP Congress. Did you find that they include one point which was out of the question in 1970?

That is the fifth point: "JCP seats are the link connecting the people of Japan with the rest of the world who wish peace." This reflects the fruitful diplomatic activities by the JCP, a non-ruling party on a par with the ruling party diplomatically.

I touched on our opposition party diplomatic activities on various occasions. Today let me introduce the most recent case.

Just before the Central Committee Plenum, the conference of foreign ministers of the Non-Aligned Countries was held in Durban, South Africa. Comrade Ogata Yasuo, our international bureau director, attended the conference as a guest, representing the Japan Asia Africa Latin America Solidarity Committee (Japan AALA), together with its director general Akiniwa Toshio. When Mr. Ogata met a person in charge of examining qualifications at the venue and asked for a badge as a guest, he was asked many questions about his relations with the non-aligned countries. "That's great", cried out the attendant when he heard a rough sketch of our diplomatic activities. He said that our activities outdo those of many governments, and that we are qualified not as a guest, but as a delegate. A delegate badge was given to Ogata. With this badge, he could attend all the governmental conferences.

Viewing our opposition party diplomacy in light of the non-aligned movement, it is considered to have a greater scale and value than those of a government. Here stands out again the role of the JCP as a party of future hope. Keeping this in mind as a source of our confidence, we will strive hard for the progress and development of our activities.



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