Tadatoshi Tashiro

Social Science Institute Japanese Communist Party

The Japanese Communist Party's Revolutionary Course and the "Manifesto of the Communist Party"


Introduction -- Inheritance of the Spirit of the Cause of Scientific Socialism Based on the "Manifesto" as an Important Stepping-Stone

The "Manifesto of the Communist Party" is the first programmatic document by Marx and Engels, who developed the theory and practice of the cause of scientific socialism. The "Manifesto" explains that the class struggle is the driving force in history. It also points out that capitalism cannot control the gigantic productive forces it produces, which brings about deep contradictions in society; and in this capitalism was criticized for the first time scientifically. It puts in broad perspective that the working class are the "grave-diggers" of capitalism, that this number increases as capitalism develops and that they will develop unity, wage the class struggle, win political power, and achieve a communist society in which "the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all."

The essence of the "Manifesto," which criticizes capitalism and presents a perspective for social development, has enduring significance even for today. In today's world, the outrageous activity of the big corporations, which have become transnational corporations, is being allowed based on the argument "market principle is the panacea." Because of this, the antagonism between monopoly capital and the majority of the people is growing both in the developed capitalist countries and the developing countries. In this situation, the "long live capitalism" argument which prevailed in the world following the Soviet Union's demise has become less prevalent. And many who are not scientific socialists are expressing criticism of capitalism, and their criticism is to the point to a certain extent. Lester C. Thurow, in his book "The Future of Capitalism," points out the contradictions between capitalism and democracy, and that "Capitalism's biggest weakness is its myopia." Also, positive reassessment of Marx's criticism of capitalism has increased. In Japan, there are not a few influential scholars of modern economics who maintain that "Marx's criticism of actual capitalism and the market economy was very accurate." (Tsuneo Iida, "Marx's 'Capital' Is Alive")

The JCP inherited the spirit of the undertaking of Marx and Engels based on the "Manifesto" as an important stepping-stone, and has tried to develop it in Japan. Of course in so doing, we did not take the attitude of regarding every proposition in the "Manifesto" as absolute. They themselves warned against tuning propositions and theories into dogmas. On the question of the policy of the revolutionary movement, it is obvious that we cannot apply all their propositions to today's situation, the propositions put forward when there was no universal suffrage in most of the European countries.

In this article, I want to discuss the JCP view of Japanese capitalism, what it should be replaced with, and how the spirit of scientific socialism pertains to this.

(1) JCP's Recent Advance

In the 1996 general election in Japan the JCP advanced and increased its seats from 15 to 26. It got 7.26 million votes, 13.08% of the total votes, which was a record in the history of the JCP. In local municipal assemblies, the JCP has 4,072 assembly members (as of April 1, 1998). It has increased its seats in these assemblies by nearly 100 seats in the 15 months from January 1997. In the 1997 Tokyo Metropolitan assembly election the JCP doubled its seats from 13 to 26 and became the second biggest party after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the assembly. Also the number of local municipalities in which the JCP is a ruling party is now up to 124. (Of these 124 municipalities the JCP is the only ruling party in 74 in cooperation with non-party people.) The number of municipality heads who are JCP members has also increased to seven, compared to just one four years ago, and they conduct their administration in the interests of the local residents.

While many political parties in the world which describe themselves as "communist parties" suffered setbacks following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the JCP has made advances in Japan, which is a major capitalist country in the world.

Some sections of the world mass media have made accurate comments on the reasons for the JCP advance. Following the 1996 general election, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that the JCP "has been able to observe at first hand one of the powerful forms of capitalism since 1945 and draw lessons both from its successes and its failures" and the JCP is one of the best placed communist parties in the world to "offer a viable alternative to capitalism." The "Independent," a British newspaper, commented on the JCP's position of sovereign independence and said, "The present generation (of JCP members) was left remarkably unembarrassed by the collapse of global communism in 1989, having long before distanced itself from the Chinese and Soviet parties." The JCP can propose its alternative to capitalism and was not embarrassed by the breakup of the Soviet Union because it is a party based on the programmatic line it established by developing scientific socialism in Japan.

(2) The Process of Social Change in Stages and the Democratic Revolution Course

The movement of scientific socialism does not make a blueprint for an ideal society and then impose it on society from outside. Rather, it exposes the actual contradictions in society which must be resolved and advocates the transformation of society by necessary stages to resolve the contradictions in line with the laws of social development in the interest of the people. Based on this viewpoint, the JCP Program makes it clear that to develop Japanese society in the people's interest, it is essential to overcome two obstacles: Japan's subordinate relationship with U.S. imperialism and the arrogant rule of Japan's monopoly capital. Basically, Japan is today controlled by U.S. imperialism and Japanese monopoly capital, which is a subordinate ally of the United States, as shown by the following:

1. The reality of Japan

Japan is virtually a dependent country, with an important part of its land, its military matters and other state matters controlled by U.S. imperialism. In Japan there are more than 100 U.S. military bases. Over 40,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in the country are privileged with extraterritorial rights and are not subject to Japan's laws. From their military bases in Japan they undertake military missions abroad without getting the Japanese government's approval. These U.S. military bases in Japan are like colonial military bases. Japan's Self-Defense Forces are virtually under the control and command of the U.S. military. And currently there are moves to establish a system by which Japan would be automatically mobilized to support any U.S. military action. Of the many countries which have concluded a military alliance with the United States, the Japan-U.S. relationship is different from the bilateral relations such countries have with the United States. It is military control and subservience that are the biggest factors shaping Japan's subordination to the United States, which affects Japan's foreign relations and its economy.

The arrogant rule of Japanese monopoly capital has deepened the contradictions and intensified the confrontation between monopoly capital and a wide strata of the Japanese people, including small- and medium-sized bourgeoisie, as well as the workers. For instance, while as much as 50 trillion yen of taxpayers money is spent on public works projects undertaken by large construction companies, only 20 trillion yen is spent on social security. This pattern of expenditures is the opposite of the position in European countries and the United States. While making the economic depression worse, by imposing a burden of nine trillion yen in tax increases and social welfare cuts on the people who were already suffering from the depression, the Japanese government decided to allocate 30 trillion yen of taxpayers money to support the banks and securities companies which have been implicated in serious dishonest practices. In fact, major banks have made 29 trillion yen in extra profits in the last six years by cutting interest rates on deposits to almost zero, which was money that should have gone to Japanese depositors. The banks have also accumulated money by refusing loans to many small- and medium-sized companies. As a result, the number of bankruptcies and the number of unemployed have soared and social security was drastically cut, which has made a majority of the Japanese people, including workers, farmers, fishers, working citizens, and small- and medium-sized company owners, feel more anxious than ever about their future.

In the European countries and the United States, workers and the people have fought and achieved various regulations to defend their living standards and ensure economic rights as part of their life. But in Japan, such measures are extremely inadequate. This allows the big corporations to act in a high-handed manner and has created an abnormal situation, which is often described critically as "capitalism without rules." For example, in France and Germany there are legal restrictions on overtime work, but in Japan employers can make employees do overtime work with no limit if the trade unions agree. As a result, Japanese workers are forced to work 300 to 400 hours a year longer than workers in France and Germany. What is worse, the Japanese government is planning to adversely revise the labor laws, and abolish the eight-hour working day system and undermine job security. Even a leader of Japan's business world like Akio Morita, former president of Sony Corp., admitted that "Japanese-style" management, responsible for such things as long working hours, low wages and little attention by Japan's corporations to the environment, would never be accepted based on international standards.

It is Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) which has pursued its way of "nation building" in the last half century since the end of the Second World War, which gives U.S. imperialism and Japanese monopoly capital priority over everything else. LDP politics now faces a serious impasse in relation to all aspects of the Japanese people's life so much so that the LDP government has lost the capacity to conduct consistent administration. No political party, except for the JCP, can offer an alternative to LDP politics because they all have the same position as the LDP on such basic policies as subordination to the United States and serving the interests of Japanese monopoly capital. This has led to a sharp increase in the number of people who do not support any specific political party and to an increasing number of such non-party people and people with a conservative tendency approaching the JCP, which offers a democratic alternative to LDP politics. Opinion polls now often show the JCP as the second ranking party after the LDP.

2. Democratic revolution within the framework of capitalism

The JCP does not call for establishing socialism directly as some others do on the grounds that Japan is a developed capitalist country, but considers that democratic revolution within the framework of capitalism is indispensable. To defeat the rule of U.S. imperialism is a democratic task toward achieving national independence, and therefore it can be realized at the stage of capitalism. At the same time, defeating the rule of monopoly capital does not mean ending capitalism. This revolution does not change the form of possession for means of production for the small- and medium-sized enterprises, nor for monopoly capital, either. This means that democratic power restricts the rule of monopoly capital in order to protect the life and management of the majority of the people, including small- and medium-sized enterprises. Both tasks have characteristics to fully realize democracy within the framework of capitalism, and are needed urgently for developing Japanese society. That is why this is called the new "people's democratic revolution" against imperialism and monopoly capital. Only through the stage of achieving these tasks, can we surely open the road to socialism.

Pushing forward social changes through necessary stages was a consistent position of Marx and Engels. Marx and Engels, when the German revolution broke out in the month following the publication of the "Manifesto," put up a banner, not of socialist revolution but of full democratic revolution. Even after this, they also stressed that socialism would be realized through a series of intermediate stages, that the freedom of the nation and political freedom are the fundamental conditions for developing the liberation movement, and that when these freedoms are deprived, it is the first task of the socialists to win them back. The JCP's argument on democratic revolution has creatively developed this position in modern times, in that the task is to defeat the immediate obstacles in the way of social development.

3. Democratic control over monopoly capital

Monopoly capital has gained enormous influence and a privileged status in the Japanese economy and is the main culprit in Japan's "capitalism without rules." The economic policy of democratic power will not regard nationalization as a panacea, but will implement democratic control over monopoly capital as its basic line. Its first task is to make clear the social responsibility of monopoly capital and check its anti-social activity. The second task is to shift the focus of state intervention in the economy, so that it will best serve the people's interests, not monopoly's. Conditions for democratic control need not be devised anew, because existing state monopoly capitalism has already prepared the conditions in the mechanism of regulating and controlling the national economy. In Japan's case, the Bank of Japan as the central bank gives guidance to every bank operating in the country, and the Ministry of Finance is empowered to intervene in the securities market. Also, the government can intervene in each industry by means of administrative guidance. Democratic control aims to utilize or bring innovation to these institutions, laws and fiscal and monetary policies, so that a complete turnabout in the now of economic benefits will be made in the interest of people's living. In Japan, what is meant by monopoly capital due to be subjected to democratic control is some 200 enterprises, such as dominant corporations, transnational corporations and big banks out of all the major corporations.

Mr. Akio Morita of Sony said that resolving the problems was beyond the ability of individual companies, and society as a whole should be transformed. The attempt to resolve the problem of selfish activity by major corporations with democratic rules supported by law, will contribute to developing the Japanese economy as a whole.

Economic change or reform of society will be made, not by replanting artificially some higher form from outside, but through succeeding to the existing highest conditions generated within a given society; this is the consistent thinking of Marx and Lenin. Marx elucidated that the banking and credit systems devised by capitalism constitute, if partially, a "powerful lever" in realizing a change toward socialism. Lenin also noted that the mechanism of state monopoly capitalism had provided a form of accounting system and the management of the national economy. Our democratic control is a task in the stage of democratic revolution, but it is the same approach to the problem as Marx and Lenin made in a preliminary form. (3) Revolution by the Majority

The JCP stands for revolution by the majority in which any reform or change in society should be promoted based on the agreement and support of the majority of the people through elections. The "Manifesto of the Communist Party" elucidates that the working class has a mission to liberate not only themselves, but also the whole society from all oppression and exploitation, and laid the basis for the policy of alliance between the working class and other sectors of the people. The JCP's line of revolution by the majority is an inheritance of the position of Marx and Engels in modern times.

Engels, in his "Introduction to K. Marx's The Class Struggles in France'(1895)," divided revolution into three categories. The first is revolution by the minority in the interest of the minority, the category in which the French revolution belongs. The second is revolution by the minority in the interest of the majority. This is a revolution in which the conscious minority leads the revolution, aiming to realize the interests of the majority. This is the type many socialists including Marx and Engels expected at the time of the 1848 German revolution. About half a century later, Engels, looking back on the revolutionary movement, said that this view was wrong, and he proposed a third type, revolution by the majority in the interest of the majority, based on development of universal suffrage. For this, he stressed the importance of winning in advance the support of the majority of the people including the working class and peasants, and to make the time-consuming task of disseminating information and parliamentary activity a party task.

Engels's theory on revolution by the majority is premised on a socialist revolution, but the JCP has developed the line of democratic revolution, viz. the argument of revolution by the majority in which a much wider range of people can be united. The JCP is aiming to establish a national democratic united front to unite all the people who oppose the above-mentioned two obstacles in the development of Japanese society, including the working class, which accounts for three fourths of the whole working population, farmers, fishers, working citizens, intellectuals, women, youth, students and small- and medium-sized company owners, and to realize changes by democratic means through parliament.

From this position, the JCP is striving for establishing a democratic government based on points agreed on by democratic forces, even though the conditions for a democratic revolution are not yet ripe. The JCP's 21st Congress in 1997 decided that the party will work hard to establish in the early part of the 21st century a democratic coalition government replacing the Liberal Democratic Party, and this decision has had great repercussions. The JCP is working to realize a democratic coalition government, in cooperation with a wide range of people who feel strong discontent with the country's present situation but do not want to change the capitalist system. Aware of such a perspective and the nationwide advance of the JCP, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is making "LDP-JCP confrontation" the basic strategy of their political struggle.

It is natural that revolution by the majority is best fought under parliamentary democracy, which correctly reflects the will of the majority. Why is the democratic road toward power possible based on the majority in the Parliament? It is because the JCP's concept of democratic revolution accords with the demands of the majority of the people, thus uniting them on this road. It is also because there is a political system which guarantees the majority assuming power. The Constitution stipulates political freedom including that of speech and press, and the right of universal suffrage, regarding the Parliament as the supreme body of State power, with election of the prime minister decided by a majority in the Parliament. Of course, as Marx warned against a possible "proslavery rebellion" by the ruling class in England where he considered a revolution was possible by peaceful means, there exists the possibility of fascist-like sabotage by the reactionary forces against the people assuming power by lawful means. We must defeat the possibility of such sabotage by the will of the majority of the people.

(4) Perspective of Socialism and the Former Soviet Union

The JCP is now seeking a democratic change within the framework of capitalism, but has confidence that Japanese society in future, through a series of transitional stages, will take a step toward socialism, and that the future of the whole human society will be in the direction of socialism and communism. In the transitional stage society, which aims for socialism, we need the following as the framework: working-class power, socialization of the major means of production now in the hands of big business, and a socialist planned economy. At the same time, private agriculture and fisheries, small- and medium-sized industry will be retained, their private initiatives respected, the economy flexibly and effectively managed by combining the planned economy and the market economy, socialist democracy fully realized, and a positive contribution will be made to world peace with the protection of the right to national self-determination and the elimination of nuclear weapons as central issues. We should place great importance on these things as fundamental points.

There is an argument which identifies the Soviet Union with the revolutionary and progressive movements in the world, and which views the collapse of the Soviet Union as the failure of socialism; but this is wrong. The failed Soviet Union was neither a socialist society nor a society in transition toward it. It was a society which oppressed the people, having nothing in common with socialism. The leadership from Stalin onwards, in their foreign policy from the 1930s on, implemented hegemonism, such as the military annexation of the three Baltic states, oppression of the other nations including the occupation of the eastern part of Poland, and their ambition to dominate the revolutionary movements in the world. In their own country, they continued to adopt wrong policies represented by despotism, and changed not only the political superstructure, but also the economic foundation of society to what is anti-people, different from socialism. Stalin forced the collectivization of agriculture, and even deprived peasants of their freedom to move. In the field of industry, he forcibly introduced a labor system which violated human rights, unthinkable even in capitalist countries. Besides, there was an oppressive system of slave labor by an enormous number of prisoners. The country's Constitution provided for superiority for the ruling party. The people had no freedom to choose their govemment. They had no say about the means of production, had no rights, and were exploited and oppressed.

Lenin implemented the right to national self-determination, peace and a social security system, and pushed ahead the 20th century world current toward social progress. As regards socialist building in the transitional stage, he made efforts so that the people could participate in the management of the state and the economy and check bureaucracy. He gave great importance to the alliance with the peasants, and defended Marx's and Engels's position on their voluntary will when forming agricultural cooperatives. In the New Economic Policy (NEP), he sought a "combination of the market economy and the planned economy." In the Japanese situation, which is by far different from that of the Lenin era, we do not support all that Lenin said and did, but it is clear that Lenin stood for the principles of scientific socialism from a broad perspective, and that Stalin overturned Lenin's course.

The JCP developed such an understanding of Soviet society from Stalin and onwards through our struggle against Soviet hegemonism, and formulated it clearly in the JCP 20th Congress in 1994. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union had tried to impose on the JCP their own line and policy since the JCP adopted the Program in 1961. They attempted to overthrow the JCP leadership, which did not accept their view and maintained the position of sovereign independence, and they interfered in the JCP using all their power including the state apparatus. The JCP firmly fought against it. The JCP continued to severely criticize the Soviet military interference in Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan and other countries. The JCP "gladly welcomed" the dissolution of the CPSU as a party of colossal historical evil (JCP Standing Presidium statement, September 1991). It demanded of the worldwide movement of scientific socialism that they liquidate hegemonism and subservience to it, reject the "collapse of the Soviet Union=the collapse of communism" argument and stand for the position of promoting society in accordance with the laws of social development, guided by the theory of scientific socialism as a living guide for action. Our struggle against the CPSU and our theoretical development on socialism defeated the "collapse of the Soviet Union=the collapse of communism" argument, giving the JCP the strength to make advances.

Conclusion--Perspective for the 21st Century

On the side of the world's people and their forces, the 20th century was a century of great progress toward democracy and national self-determination. The 21st century will be a century in which the conditions for social progress will at least potentially mature on a global scale for outstripping capitalism, which has deepened its contradictions. Promoting the cause of scientific socialism in Japan, a highly developed capitalist country and a subordinate ally of U.S. imperialism, located in the Asia-Pacific region, which is becoming increasingly important politically and economically, has real significance in world history. Based on the accomplishments the party has achieved in the 76 years of struggles since its foundation, the JCP is now tackling challenges of democratic change and reform of Japan with a grand perspective.(end)

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