Japan's Fortunes in 21st Century Will Depend on Change from Failed LDP Politics Speech at JCP's "1998 Hoisting Party Flag" Meeting by Tetsuzo Fuwa, Presidium Chairman Central Committee, JCP
Newspaper Akahata, January 6, 1998
A happy new year in 1998 to all of you here in the party headquarters and all the comrades watching the meeting via satellite communications.
New Year of Turbulence and Tension Presaging the Coming of New Era
The new year began with Japan still in a state of great political and social turbulence. "Turbulence" is now a stale and worn-out word, but the turbulence we are now undergoing is not temporary. Indeed the new year began with a stormy and tense situation which seems to presage the early advent of a new era.
Past JCP Hoisting Party Flag meetings have been the occasion to think about the country's political history and existing trends. In last year's Hoisting Party Flag meeting, after the major JCP advance in the 1996 general election, I made the following three points--the need to emphasize the progress seen in Japanese society as regards the history of the rivalry and struggle between two political positions: one Liberal Democratic Party politics which serves the interests of big business and works in subordination to the United States, and the other the Japanese Communist Party which strives to defeat such politics.
The first point I made was that LDP politics had taken Japan and its people into such an extraordinary position unparalleled in the world, that even the LDP itself can not steer Japan out of the crisis.
The second was the political situation in which all Japan's political parties, except the JCP, acted as though they were ruling parties; this meant that these parties went along with the LDP as part of the same LDP political shipwreck and share the fate of the LDP.
Third, the JCP major advance in the 1996 general election showed irrefutably that the way to sound social development in Japan was to end the self-centered activity of the major enterprises and Japan's subordination to the United States. The JCP's consistent line aiming for these ends has accorded with the laws of social development.
Looking back on the developments in the past year, I feel strongly that the above three points have been quite vividly confirmed as correct by the turbulence during the year.
Now let me refer to the current situation of the LDP government. The mass media calls it a "chorei-bokai (fickle)" government, viz. a government whose policy is so inconsistent that it is not unusual for it to make a decision in the morning, which it changes by the evening on the same day. Any conservative government should have a consistent policy in their own way. But the incumbent "chorei-bokai" government has no consistent policy or any idea of how to break through current difficulties. Furthermore it suffers from "generation regression," a situation in which former prime ministers and a former chief cabinet secretary reemerge to again take command, not just giving "rear support" to the incumbent government. Indeed it is hard to discern who is really in command. What an extraordinary situation this is!
What about those parties which go along with LDP politics and act as if they are one of the ruling parties? The most typical example of their actual position is the fact that the New Frontier Party (Shinshinto) has disbanded at the end of last year and broken up into six smaller parties. The division into so many fractions is more than expected. It is already being said that several of these fractions may combine with the Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) and the Taiyo (Sun) Party, which were founded earlier, to establish a "grand coalition" or another "new party." They were driven to consider this step because they lack confidence in the significance of their own existence.
In my address in last year's Hoisting Party Flag meeting I referred to the situation of new parties being founded and political parties changing their alignment, and said it was telling evidence showing that as long as such moves, as replacing old names with new ones, were made within the old framework of support for LDP politics, they would have no impact on real politics and generate no force to change the situation. What I said has been more vividly confirmed by the present developments in the political situation.
In contrast, there has been confirmation of the JCP "second wave" of advance following its first wave which culminated in the 1996 general election. Last year there were no national elections, but only some by-elections. But in last year's most important local election for the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, the JCP doubled its seats and advanced to the position of being the second biggest party in the assembly. As a result of last year's off-year local elections, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, the party increased its local assembly seats by more than 100, which was the biggest gain the party had achieved in the past 20 years or so. This is numerical evidence which refutes the claim that the JCP advance is just a temporary phenomenon.
On the occasion of this Hoisting Party Flag meeting, let us renew our resolve to encourage the above-mentioned general trend and win further advance for the JCP so as to establish a democratic government in the early part of the 21st century, as the 21st JCP Congress decision emphasizes.
Japan Faces a Very Serious Situation Created by LDP-Style "Nation Building"
Give every support to Nago citizens' struggle against imposition of new U.S. military base
Japan now faces a quite serious situation, which is continuing to develop.
Early in the new year a mayoral election will be held in Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture. Last December the Nago citizens achieved a victory (in the referendum) by defeating the outrageous interference in local affairs by the central government. The central government and the LDP plan to impose the construction of an offshore military base, and trample on the will of the Nago citizens as expressed in the referendum.
When Okinawa is no longer under U.S. occupation but is under Japan's jurisdiction, how is it possible for a government which respects national sovereignty and independence to build a U.S. military base without regard for the opposition of the residents against it, as clearly expressed through their votes? Yet this is what the LDP government is daring to do shamelessly and without any hesitation.
We must support by all means the Nago citizens' resolute struggle against the government's moves and help them to preserve their beautiful city.
Basis of people's living conditions is being undermined by adverse revision of social security and the labor laws
The people's economic life is also being seriously affected. I want to deal with this problem in two respects.
First, the basis of the people's living conditions is now being undermined on a big scale.
One field in which this is happening is social security. It is a well-known fact that the level of Japan's social security is lower than that in Europe. Based on the established level of Japan's social security, as low as it is, many people have drawn up their life plan, expecting it to improve as time goes by. But quite the reverse is now taking place, and even what the people have established so far is being undermined in every field.
The health insurance system has undergone a series of adverse revisions on an increasing scale annually in the last few years. The welfare system for old people, which only very recently began to make progress, is likely to lose all the achievements gained; the government plans to introduce an official insurance system to cover the costs for nursing aged people to reduce the welfare system for old people. The pension system is also about to be adversely revised. The pension fund has such a big surplus that the present balance will cover payments for 5.5 years, but on the pretext that the fund may go into the red sometime in the future, the government is daring to unreasonably urge the people to choose between a reduction in pension allowances or an increase in pension insurance premiums.
As a result of adverse revisions in the welfare system, wide strata of the people, which include not only those immediately affected by these measures but also members of the younger generation, are saying that they can no longer make a life plan. This means that the government has even abandoned its minimum responsibility for safeguarding the people's living conditions.
The basis of the people's living conditions is also being undermined in relation to the labor laws. Last December the Central Labor Standards Council submitted its final report which proposes sweeping adverse changes of the labor laws. The attack on these laws is focused on the eight-hour working day and employment security, which prohibits managements from sacking employees at their discretion--these laws constitute the most important basis for protecting the working and living conditions of the workers. In addition, several new working systems are being introduced based on the self interest of capital, which among others include "discretionary work schedule," "flexible work schedule," "short-term employment contracts" and "labor lease system." If these systems are introduced they will upset the everyday orderly activity of workers at home and at work, and unpaid extrawork will be made legal. Many workers will be subjected to conditions in which in practice they will have no right to work, because managements will be able to sack them as they like.
The government wants to make these systems the common standard in capitalist workshops, and not the exception to just apply in special cases. Inevitably they will have a destructive effect on the everyday life of 54 million workers and their families who account for three fourths of Japan's population.
In an article dealing with the question in Akahata last December, Osamu Sakamoto, a lawyer from the Japan Lawyers Association for Freedom, estimated that if these new systems are seriously introduced, capital will be able to make several tens of trillion yen extra profit every year from increased exploitation.
It is no exaggeration to say that the self-centered activity of "capitalism without rules" is reaching a new more serious level which is affecting all aspects of the people's lives.
Let us counter and defeat these attacks, by regarding defense of the people's living conditions as the most urgent task in our policy and of our movement.
Increasing absurdity of politics and the plan to use taxpayers' money to relieve major corporations and banks
Second, while trampling so much on the people's living conditions, the government is planning to use an exorbitant amount of taxpayers' money for assisting the major corporations, major banks and general contract construction companies.
The following two contrasting figures are a good example of the absurd use of tax money which recently got public attention. About 50 trillion yen is invested annually in public works projects which are largely undertaken by general contract construction companies, while only about 20 trillion yen is spent annually on social security. No other country makes such an absurd use of taxpayers' money and this is not the only case of this kind of absurdity.
Let's look at what the Hashimoto cabinet has done in the past year, in relation to the use of taxpayers' money.
First, the cabinet imposed the burden of nine trillion yen on the people, a reckless step to take nine trillion yen out of the people's purses into the government's coffers every year. Indeed this burden on the consumers swept away every small bright prospect Japan's economy had begun to enjoy, making the recession endless. Suffering from the double blow of the extra nine trillion yen burden and the effects of the recession, people throughout the country are crying out in distress. In spite of this, the Hashimoto cabinet took no action at all to change the position.
In contrast, when the failures started among some securities companies and banks, the present cabinet suddenly changed its attitude and began to speak openly about "crisis" and it decided to use a huge amount of official money to bail out the financial institutions; at first it decided to use 10 trillion yen on the question, but this amount has now swelled to 30 trillion yen. To relieve the banks, the government from much earlier on has pursued an extraordinary policy of low interest rates on deposits and it is estimated that this policy alone has given the banks for the last five years windfall profits of about 16 trillion yen. Based on a combination of these two figures, it is estimated that the banks are now being granted nearly 50 trillion yen in official aid.
As public awareness about the real picture increases, criticism is rapidly spreading among the people, who are angry about the unreasonable policy of using taxpayers' money to relieve the major corporations and the banks.
The government has taken advantage of the critical situation of the national treasury to impose a series of heavy burdens on the people and turned deaf ears to the cries of distress by old people, incurable disease sufferers and earthquake victims. But when some banks and securities companies got into difficulties, the government did not hesitate to renege on their public promise (not to use any tax money to relieve the banks--ed.) and started to spend any amount of official money for that purpose. At last year's Akahata Festival I said the present LDP-style of "nation building" was to build a "nation serving the big corporations and the general contractor construction companies." Thus this sort of absurdity is approaching the extreme.
In last September's JCP Congress I analyzed the present situation in Japan and said that the establishment of a democratic government which we are working for accords with the logic of national interests. Then in November's Akahata Festival I proposed that the current process of nation building which has created a "nation serving big corporations and general contractor construction companies" and the "country structured on the U.S. military bases," should be replaced by a democratic way to build the nation by which the people will assume the role of being the key players in the true sense. Certainly every problem we are now faced with demands such a change of course.
In this connection I heard a former prime minister tell a very interesting story on a private TV program at the end of last year. This man is now taking the initiative to formulate government policy in relation to the financial problems. He said, generally speaking, Japanese governments from the Meiji Era (1868-1912) till now have pursued the national policy of "building a wealthy country with a strong army." In other words, the prewar governments gave top priority to the interests of the military and zaibatsu (industrial conglomerates), and the postwar ones have given priority to the interests of big business and major companies and U.S. military bases. This way of building the nation has now failed and is at an impasse, he added. Though the way he proposed to change course was quite off the point, he was very frank when talking about Japan's political tradition, so frank that he admitted that the aim of postwar LDP politics in the last 50 years has been to build a "wealthy country with a strong army," without regard for the interests of the mass of the people, and that now there is a compulsion to change this course--a hard fact which even a politician who is assuming the leadership of LDP politics is obliged to accept. This failure of the LDP-style "nation building" is so serious.
We must get a deep grasp of the situation which I have spoken about, and we must handle all our political and policy-making tasks from this perspective.
Support for U.S. Hegemonism on Military and Foreign Affairs Is Serious
On foreign relations, Japan's position is also serious.
New "Guidelines" are not compatible with what should be Japan's foreign policy toward Asia including China
The government and the LDP are saying that they will give importance to relations with Asia. But the common understanding in the world is that their policy based on the new "Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation" and the consequent realignment and strengthening of the Japan-U.S. military alliance has deepened the contradictions between Japan and the other Asian countries.
Last September, Der Spiegel, a German magazine, had a cover story about the growing anger in the world at the outrageous actions of the United States. The list of the U.S. outrageous actions was topped by the new "Guidelines." The magazine says, "In East Asia, the selfish plan of the United States to form a security alliance with Japan, which could include a military defense of Taiwan, has caused great disturbance." This reflects world public opinion on the new "Guidelines."
The main focus of Der Spiegel article was on the "military defense" of Taiwan and it was exactly to the point.
Japan's government takes the position of "One-China policy." Ostensibly it says Taiwan is an internal question of China and no other country should interfere in the matter. But under the U.S. law called the "Taiwan Relations Act," the U.S. president and the U.S. Congress have an obligation to defend Taiwan. This is a de facto military alliance between the United States and Taiwan. This is why the U.S. aircraft carriers were deployed near the Taiwan Strait from Yokosuka, its base, during the tense situation in the strait in March 1996.
I talked about the Nago City mayoral election to take place early this year. The U.S. on-sea air base, which is planned to be built offshore from the city, is closely connected with this. When the on-sea base is completed, the Osprey, a new vertical take-off U.S. transport aircraft, will be deployed at the base.
In my report to the symposium last December in Nago City, organized by the National Forum for Peace, Democracy and Progressive Unity (Progressive Unity Forum), I pointed out that the Osprey has a range of over 3,800km which is several times greater than that of the transport helicopters so far deployed; which means that, in dealing with situations in the Taiwan area, the new offshore base would be a stepping stone for taking action directly to the area without having to rely on transport ships.
Later, in the U.S. Marine Corps' magazine Marines, I read a speech by General Charles Krulak, the Marine Commandant, made in March 1996. He discussed concrete "emergencies" which might call for action by U.S. Marines, giving the specific examples in Asia of possible tension between China and Taiwan. He then emphasized the need to take steps to modernize equipment, including the introduction of the Osprey helicopters in order to carry out the strategy of intervening in this kind of "situation in surrounding areas." This clearly explains the particular connection between the offshore base and the Taiwan question.
But the new "Guidelines" not only provided the U.S. forces with a stepping stone for attacks, but also promised that Japan would be prepared to give full support to U.S. forces which have taken action to deal with "situations in areas surrounding Japan." In relation to the Taiwan question, the new "Guidelines" are literally a pact for intervention.
In yesterday's Akahata (January 4, 1998) a Thai journalist who is the executive editor of "The Nation" (Thailand's English language newspaper--ed.) is quoted as saying that "(Japan) must take into account the concern in Southeast Asia about Japan strengthening its military role in the region."
Even the LDP government cannot develop diplomatic relations with Asia or China while at the same time concluding a new military pact called the new "Guidelines" with the United States. This is, as it were, an impossible equation. Japan's foreign policy is now in a serious situation.
Foreign policy subservient to the United States undermines international credibility
Also, as Der Spiegel's feature article shows, a characteristic of the present world situation is that following the Soviet Union's collapse the United States' way of doing things, with its open hegemonic world strategy, is meeting extensive condemnation, resistance and protest throughout the world in connection with military, foreign policy, and economic affairs. Even the "friendly nations" based on loyalty to the United States in relation to its past anti-Soviet strategy find the thinking outdated; this is the reality in the world which even the Washington Post has to accept.
In the world, Japan's foreign policy, which gives unwavering allegiance to the United States and supports it on all issues, is in this regard undermining international credibility.
Nowadays we often hear that the international credibility of Japan is declining. I would frankly say that this is because of the role played by Japan's foreign policy with its uncritical support for the United States, not only because of the recent failures of the country's financial institutions.
In this respect, I must emphasize that changing the course of Japan's nation building is an essential task that literally will affect the country's destiny in the 21st century.
JCP-CPC Relations--Noting Recent Changes, We Will Make Efforts to Get a Fruitful Result
As a political party with the aim of taking on the responsibility of government in the 21st century, in other words, as a party to become a government party in the 21st century, we, the JCP, also intend to enhance our activity on foreign relations.
In terms of our foreign relations, we take all regions of the world, including the U.S.A., into view, and will give special importance to our foreign policy in relation to East Asia, as endorsed by the JCP 21st Congress.
The JCP Congress stated this in the form of the foreign policy of a democratic government which we are aiming for. It is important for us to actually now begin activity in this direction.
Based on activity for establishing and promoting friendly people-to-people relations, we will also make much of exchanges with political parties and various social sectors in Asian countries, and realize foreign relations activity, which is adequate for given situations.
Among the pending issues, there is the question of relations with China.
As you know, our relations with the Communist Party of China (CPC) were severed, because the JCP was subjected to interference and attack by the CPC during the process of the "Great Cultural Revolution." Of course, we do not consider that the present state of affairs is good.
In dealing with this question, we think that a series of changes which took place in our relations last year have important significance. Of them, we take notice of the following two statements by the Chinese.
First, a person who had direct responsibility for the interference in the JCP at the time of the "Great Cultural Revolution" recently said publicly that "the responsibility of the break of relations between the two parties was mainly on the Chinese side."
The other is in an interview of Dai Bingguo, head of the CPC International Department, by Renmin Ribao (People's Daily) in which the normalization of relations with the JCP was included in the first part of his list of foreign relations tasks to be tackled by the CPC from now on, and he expressed the hope for the question to be settled.
We note these developments as especially important.
We had talks with the CPC 13 years ago for normalizing relations, but they were fruitless.
I now have the impression that as regards relations with the JCP, the CPC has now come to a clearer view of the core of the matter, in relation to the past, present and future. To resolve the question is an important task, in the interests of correcting the abnormal history of JCP-CPC relations, for developing our foreign relations activity in Asia, and in a wider sense, for the development of friendship between the two peoples. Carefully evaluating the situation, we intend to treat the matter positively, and to make efforts to get a fruitful result in resolving the question.
As a First Step toward a Democratic Government, Achieve a Major JCP Advance in the Number of Seats and Votes on Forthcoming House of Councilors Election
I will not repeat the tasks we face this year, because a detailed analysis of them was given in the JCP Congress. All we must do now is to put into practice what we have decided on these. But I must deal with one thing, the House of Councilors election, which will be the most important national election this year.
In the JCP Congress, when discussing the strength the JCP needs in the Diet, we set the objective to be achieved as the first step toward a democratic government, of over 100 House of Representatives seats and several tens of House of Councilors seats.
Because this is an objective to be achieved in the 21st century, we do not think that the objective of several tens of House of Councilors seats can be achieved at one go in the next election. But to reach this objective as soon as possible it is absolutely necessary for the JCP to make a major advance in the next House of Councilors election, which will be the first national election since the last JCP Congress.
Based on this broad perspective, we must organize the campaign for the next House of Councilors election in a way that will result in a dramatic JCP advance in votes and seats.
Looking at the first step objective in more detail, I would say that to achieve several tens of House of Councilors seats it will be necessary not only to make an advance in the proportional representation constituency but also to win several seats in the single-seat and two-seat constituencies.
Based on this perspective, the JCP decided its new policy for ending the traditional division between the must-win constituencies and the rest of the constituencies in the coming House of Councilors election.
Organize energetic campaign in every constituency without seeing the balance of political power as something immutable
It is now a time of turbulence. And every change in the situation creates new conditions for increased attention to and expectations of the JCP. For this reason it is absolutely necessary for the JCP to organize an energetic campaign in every district without exception, and not to see the balance of political power as something immutable. I hope that, even in the constituencies where the greatest effort by the party do not seem to win JCP seats in the coming election, the party will work to fully use its energy and wisdom to build footings to enable them to win seats in the next election.
The last JCP Congress mapped out five tasks as the strategy for establishing a democratic government, which includes: to increase the membership and influence of the JCP, to step up the exchange of opinion, dialogue and cooperation between the JCP and non-party forces, to change the balance of power in our favor in the mass movements, and to increase the level of the party activity on policy to the point of getting a majority of the people to support such policy.
By making marked and consistent progress on each of these tasks, let us make 1998 a brilliant year, and one in which we will meet the people's expectations.
With this I conclude my new year speech.