Shii answers questions from the press regarding a national coalition gov't
September 21, 2015
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo answered questions raised from reporters at a press conference held on September 21 regarding the party’s proposal on the establishment of a national coalition government. The gist of the question-and-answer session is as follows:
Q: Do you have particular opposition parties in mind?
Shii: We have in mind the four opposition parties (DPJ, Innovation, SDP, People’s Life, and independents) with which we have steadily promoted joint efforts in the latest Diet session.
Q: Why do you think a coalition government is necessary?
Shii: In order to abolish the war legislation and restore constitutionalism and democracy, it is essential to replace the LDP-Komei government with a different government.
If antiwar forces occupy the majority of Diet seats as a result of a general election and a House of Councilors election, it will be possible for them to submit and enact a bill to repeal the controversial laws. However, this won’t be enough. The Abe Cabinet in July last year made a decision allowing Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. As long as this decision exists, we cannot completely eliminate the source of a dangerous move to turn the country into a nation capable of fighting wars abroad. The distorted interpretation of the Constitution and the disdain for the war-renouncing Article 9 will continue to remain. To cut off this source of authoritarian disdain, the formation of another government is absolutely necessary.
Q: What kind of electoral cooperation do you expect?
Shii: At this moment, it is difficult to specify how our electoral cooperation would manifest itself.
Before cooperating in the field of national elections, we need a political agreement on the common goal to revoke the war legislation and bring back constitutionalism. In addition to this, opposition parties must agree at the outset to work together to form a coalition government in order to accomplish this common goal. Only after these agreements are reached can opposition parties unite to discuss how we could specifically cooperate in elections.
Q: Do you seek cooperation with other opposition parties in a House of Councilors election (next July) and a general election as well?
Shii: Of course we do.
Q: When will a consensus among opposition parties be built?
Shii: We will convey our vision to the four opposition parties and the independent group as quickly as possible, but I cannot say when exactly we might come to reach an agreement. We cannot make that kind of decision on our own.
Q: Do you mean you won’t field your own candidates in some districts?
Shii: It would be possible that in some constituencies we would support another party’s candidate or other parties would support our candidate.
As our basic policy, we are prepared to put up our own candidate in all electoral districts. However, where we reach an agreement on electoral cooperation, we are ready to adjust our policy.
Q: Is JCP participation in a new Cabinet a precondition for the agreement on electoral cooperation?
Shii: We are not thinking of any exchange condition. I cannot say anything about cooperation inside or outside a Cabinet after the establishment of a new government. Our proposal is to establish a coalition government just for the purpose of repealing the war laws and recovering constitutionalism.
Q: Do you mean you won’t cooperate with other opposition parties without an agreement to take power with the JCP?
Shii: If they really seek to scrap the war legislation and recapture constitutionalism, they should come to understand that a change of power is absolutely imperative. Nevertheless, to replace the LDP-Komei government won’t be easy. The need in electoral cooperation is for opposition parties to prepare themselves for a national coalition government.
Q: What is the difference between a democratic coalition gov’t and a national coalition gov’t?
Shii: Our Party Program stipulates two kinds of government.
One is a democratic coalition government. This is a united front government which will fully implement democratic reforms in Japanese society after overcoming the existing policies subservient to the United States as well as to large corporations and business circles. This would be part of a democratic revolution. The establishment of a democratic coalition government has been and continues to be our consistent goal. This is not going to change.
The other is a united front government working within the range of shared goals. The JCP Program states, “Common efforts and unity in action for the immediate tasks should be promoted” even if conditions are not ripe for a democratic coalition government. Our proposal for the establishment of a national coalition government has been made based on this concept of “[c]ommon efforts and unity in action for the immediate tasks”.
Q: How long will a provisional government last?
Shii: At this stage, I cannot say what time frame would be established.
Our proposal states, “With regard to a future course for Japan after achieving the abrogation of the war laws, we should hold a general election in the Lower House again in order to have the public choose which direction Japan should take.” This is our basic position.
In a new government, we hope we can also address key national issues if policy agreements are made with other parties on such issues “with flexibility by setting aside some policy differences” as stipulated in our proposal.
Q: Is this the 1st time for you to propose cooperating in national elections with other parities?
Shii: We have cooperated with other parties in specific elections before, but electoral cooperation with the establishment of a coalition government with other parties in mind is actually the first proposal we have made in our party history.
Q: You say you will call on individuals to cooperate as well. Who is your target?
Shii: We’d like to cooperate with all the people and organizations who opposed or expressed concern about the war bills. We are also ready to work together with those who have just started to feel a sense of danger after witnessing the government’s tyrannical handling of the Diet during the passage of the bill into law.
Q: Do you think opposition parties will respond to your proposal?
Shii: I know there are many difficult challenges to meet, but I believe it will be possible.
The key to whether our proposal is accepted is the response generated by public opinion and citizen movements.
The recent popular opposition movement encouraged us to put forth this proposal. We’ve heard a lot of voices raised to push us forward since we began taking part in the citizens’ protest actions, and we came to understand that we have to take their voices really seriously.
They came up to us and said, “We want you to work to scrap the war bills,” or “Please overturn the Abe government,” and to this end, some even said, “We want opposition parties to come together.” These were their voices and we listened.
If we, opposition parties, fail to respond to these compelling demands, it will mean that we betray the people’s expectations.
The JCP will do everything in its power to hold discussions with other opposition parties with the aim of reaching positive agreements.
Q: Your proposal states that a general election comes before a House of Councilors election. Why is that?
Shii: The JCP is looking to push the government into dissolution before the House of Councilors election takes place next July.
We think that the unconstitutional war legislation should be buried as soon as possible. To achieve this, the majority of seats in both Upper and Lower Houses are necessary. This is why we are intending to force the present government into calling for a general election.