Shii answers foreign reporters’ questions about JCP proposal to form ‘national coalition gov’t to repeal war legislation’

October 17, 2015
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on October 15 at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan gave a luncheon talk regarding the JCP proposal to work to form a “national coalition government to repeal the war legislation” and answered questions from foreign journalists about the proposal. Following is the gist of the question-answer session.

Q: How can the JCP build cooperation with other opposition parties? Is it possible to reach agreement with them?

Shii: The JCP has held a series of talks with leaders of other opposition parties.

In talks with Democratic Party of Japan President Okada Katsuya, he showed his respect for the JCP proposal and asked serious and passionate questions about the JCP initiative. Okada and I agreed to continue holding talks on this issue which is a good start.

Social Democratic Party leader Yoshida Tadatomo in our talks said that the JCP proposal is wide in scope with depth. He showed his intention to respond to what we call for in a positive manner and to move ahead to realize active cooperation in upcoming elections. He also agreed with the proposal’s goal to establish a coalition government.

In talks with People’s Life Party head Ozawa Ichiro, he praised the JCP for making the decision to break away from the previous policy. He also said that he will work hard together with the JCP to achieve a goal to win elections and establish a government. We could thus share the same goal.

The JCP will possibly hold talks with Japan Innovation Party leader Matsuno Yorihisa as well.

DPJ leader Okada in his blog regarded cooperation in line with the JCP proposal as a high hurdle to jump, but he said that coordination of candidates in elections is important. In addition, he said that he as a politician puts trust in me. I also place trust in him. So, it is highly probable that the JCP and the DPJ will reach an agreement if the two parties negotiate in a sincere manner based on mutual trust. I understand the difficulty of reaching an agreement, but the talks with the DPJ have just begun.

Q: What do you think a real democracy to be?

Shii: In protest actions in front of the Diet building, young activists shouted a call, “Tell me what real democracy looks like?” They are thinking about this issue deeply.

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo insists that a majority government can decide anything with the use of its majority force despite public opposition and that this is their idea of democracy. But, it is wrong. Even though a political party may succeed in becoming a majority in the Diet, it should listen to the voices from opponents and criticisms of its politics and make sincere efforts to establish a consensus. To make this tireless effort is what democracy really should be about. The Abe administration lacks this viewpoint. Although the Liberal Democratic Party obtained only 17% of the total vote in the 2014 general election, it occupied the majority of the Diet thanks to the single-seat constituency election system. The LDP’s intent to infringe on the voices of the majority by using its “fictitious majority” force is tantamount to destroying democracy which guarantees people the right to exercise their sovereign power.

Young people are criticizing PM Abe’s ways of carrying out politics for not only destroying pacifism and constitutionalism under the Constitution but also undermining democracy. This is an insightful criticism that cannot be brushed aside. The JCP believes that to create a “national coalition government” will be the first step toward restoring real democracy to Japan.

Q: How to deal with difference in views on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty?

Shii: Regarding the Japan-U.S. military treaty, to respect different stances and to put aside differences is a realistic way to find points of agreement, I think. To stick to emphasizing the differences makes it impossible to reach consensus.

The five opposition parties have different positions in regard to the bilateral military treaty. However, the five parties together fought to block the enactment of the security-related legislation (war legislation), which included the submission of the no-confidence motion against the Abe Cabinet. At a five-party summit meeting on September 18 where the submission of the no-confidence motion was decided upon, the five leaders confirmed that the five parties will continue making joint efforts to protect pacifism, constitutionalism, and democracy under the Constitution. The JCP made its proposal based on these joint efforts. Therefore, I believe, it is possible for the five parties to unite in line with the JCP proposal despite differences in opinions on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

Q: Could you come up with a timetable for creating a coalition government?

Shii: The JCP proposal aims to put pressure on the Abe government to dissolve the Diet and hold a general election without delay. However, if it is difficult to achieve this aim, the House of Councilors election slated for next July will provide an important opportunity. The JCP seeks to form a consensus with other opposition parties on policies, a coalition government, and electoral cooperation in the direction of the proposal before entering into campaigns for the Upper House election.

As for the Upper House election, the JCP attaches particular importance on gaining success in all the 32 single-seat constituencies. The party determines to win all these constituencies through electoral cooperation among opposition parties. If this is achieved, the LDP and the Komei Party will lose their majority in the Upper House. This will pave the way for pushing the Abe government toward the general election.

Q: Will the JCP demand a cabinet post in the proposed coalition government?

Shii: The JCP proposal does not make it a precondition to obtain a cabinet post in forming a national coalition government. It depends on the situation whether the JCP will support a new cabinet from inside or outside. There will be various options. We will choose the best option at that time.

Q: DPJ leader Okada states that it is somewhat difficult to form a coalition government with the JCP while not denying the cooperation needed for national elections. What do you think the DPJ has concerns about?

Shii: I guess the main concerns the DPJ has are the issue of the emperor system of Japan and how to deal with Japan’s Self-Defense Forces as well as the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. However, if we carefully explain our positions on these issues, they should not be obstacles to forming a coalition government.

It is said that there is a kind of “allergy to communists” among people and politicians. Of course, we have to continue our efforts to eliminate such an allergy. At the same time, I want to emphasize that now is the time for opposition parties to overcome this allergy and stand together for the sake of the general public and the future of Japan.

Q: How will the coalition government address issues related to national security? Will it mobilize the SDF in cases of emergency?

Shii: In dealing with security issues, our national coalition government will “freeze” matters concerning the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. This means that the new government will address security issues within the scope of the conventional treaty and laws, on condition that the war legislation will be repealed. In the capacity of a national coalition government, it will not implement measures to abrogate the security pact with the United States.

In a case of imminent and unlawful violation of Japan’s sovereignty, it is natural that the new government use the SDF to repel it based on the former SDF Law.

Does the JCP maintain its democratic centralism?

Shii: The JCP’s principle of democratic centralism is not that special. To put it plainly, it means that party members debate democratically and carry out together what they decide to do. I think this is an ordinary principle to modern political parties.

After all, how to run a political party is a matter of autonomy. This kind of matter should not be an obstacle in the way of establishing a national coalition government.

In the Upper House election next summer, will the JCP refrain from fielding its candidates in the 32 single-seat constituencies?

Shii: An election partnership is built on mutual cooperation. In a single-member constituency, for instance, the JCP would support another opposition party’s candidate. In another electoral district, other opposition parties may back a JCP candidate. And in yet another case, opposition forces, including the JCP, might jointly recommend an independent candidate.

You admitted to the possibility of using the SDF in an emergency. In that case, will the new government also ask the U.S. forces in Japan to go into action?

Shii: As I have stated earlier, a national coalition government will cope with security issues within the bounds of the present treaty, on condition that the enacted security legislation will be revoked.

Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Pact stipulates that when Japan comes under armed attack, the two allies “would act to meet the common danger”. In that case, the national coalition government would take necessary measures in accordance with this provision.

The JCP will continue to work to achieve its goal to abrogate the security pact after gaining a national consensus and conclude an equal, friendly treaty with the U.S. Meanwhile, we have no intent to force the new coalition government to take steps to revoke the present treaty. This is what the “freeze” means.

The Central Committee of the Japanese Communist Party
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