Commemorative speech for the 98th Anniversary of the founding of the JCP
Let Us Get over the COVID-19 Crisis, and Bring forth a New Japan and the World -- Based on the Revised JCP Program
Japanese Communist Party Chair
July 15, 2020
Good evening, everyone here and across the internet. I am Shii Kazuo, Chair the Japanese Communist Party. Thank you very much for coming today for our memorial speech, both online and in person.
I would like to begin with stating my utmost condolences to those we lost in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and solidarity towards those who are still battling on. I also would like to extend my gratitude to the healthcare workers on the front lines.
In addition, I would like to state my heartfelt condolences to the lives we have lost in the recent torrential storms in Japan and express my sympathy to all who were affected by the destruction. It is my intention to express our determination to do our best in the relief and reconstruction for those who affected by both crises, the coronavirus outbreaks and the heavily rain disaster.
Firstly -- A Proposal for a New Society, Based on Our Experience with COVID-19
We, the Japanese Communist Party is celebrating our 98th anniversary of our founding, in the middle of this global COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, we in Japan are faced with a grave crisis of re-expansion of cases of COVID-19, especially around Tokyo areas. It is of utmost importance for the government to provide a safety net for economic hardships, order lockdowns in specific regions and fields of work, increase both funding for medical institutions but also expand availability of PCR testing across the nation.
In the world, the infection is growing rapidly, especially in North and South America, South Asia, and furthermore, we are concerned about its spread in the African regions.
We the Japanese Communist Party, have reflected on our “spirit of the party founding” -- to fight to relieve the pain and suffering of the citizens. Based on this, we have acted alongside popular opinion and social movements, and taken concrete actions both on the local and national political organs, to come up with new policy to alleviate the effects of the worst global pandemic since the end of the Second World War. Subsequently, I would like to express our continued determination to keep fighting to protect the livelihoods of our citizens, to our fullest extent.
COVID-19 and the entailing crisis has shown us the weaknesses and contradictions in Japanese and the global societies. Through this experience, we are searching for a new social structure. We are hearing more questions along the lines of “Is this how politics is supposed to work?” and “Is this the society that we signed up for?” I believe that the current talk regarding a “post-COVID-19 society” being held both inside Japan and elsewhere is based on the wishes of the people, such that “we need to come up with a better, more functional society, after this crisis.”
What kinds of societies will we build, in the post-COVID-19 world? Today, I will be speaking about these topics from 4 different perspectives, based on the revised party program formalized at the 28th Congress of the Japanese Communist Party, held in January this year. I hope you can stay to the end.
I. The Collapse of Neo-liberalism -- Let Us Set Forth into Our Futures, Based Not on Individual Responsibility, but Rather, on the Power of Collective Action
The first perspective is that the failure of neo-liberalism has become completely clear.
It entrusted all to the market principle, ridded it of any regulation, for the only goal of maximizing short-term profits. It strived to end all social security and other safety nets, and instead forced individual responsibility upon the citizens. With the United States of America as the epicenter of this disease, neo-liberalism has permeated global society for the last 40 years.
Isn’t it clear that this sheer fact has weakened society into its brittle form we see today? I believe that the COVID-19 crisis has been able to exemplify the nature of this weakness.
International -- Critiques of Neo-Liberalism rises in Europe and the United States of America
Let us look at what is happening across the world.
Across developed nations, we see that the countries with the highest tolls amidst this crisis include: the United States, Italy, Spain, France, and the United Kingdom. Although the factors vary from country to country, a common theme across all countries is the downfall of neo-liberal policies.
<The United States -- “Neo-liberalism has caused a myriad of dire consequences”>
The US has seen, by far, the highest number of infections and deaths across the world. While there are a number of issues that have been raised -- the lack of a nationalized health insurance regime, systemic racism, failures of leadership, etc -- I believe that the root of all these problems lays in the failures of neo-liberal policies, especially the weakening of social safety nets.
Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in Economics and Professor at Columbia University, stated the following:
That “While the U.S. is supposedly the wealthiest nation across the world, what became evident was that it failed to prepare for this crisis. This is evident through looking at the sheer lack of ventilators, PPE, masks and testing supplies.” He continues, “All of this is rooted in the fact that over the years, the central government has become weakened.” “This process began with the election of President Reagan in 1980. In the year before, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was born in the UK... The common ideology between them was neo-liberalism, which promoted market principles, deregulation, reduction of social programs, and austerity, i.e. ‘Small government.’ Their logic was that deregulation should lead to corporate profits, and that, in turn, leads to increased market activity, and trickle-down economics. This scheme continues to this day, evident in the election of President Trump. This has been a terrible mistake. Neo-liberalism merely increased the wealth of the greedy wealthy classes through the guise of national policy.” (From "Yomiuri” April 26th)
“A terrible mistake” -- What a strongly worded, but accurate characterization.
<Europe -- "We mustn’t go back to a failed formula">
We are seeing similar criticisms raised in Europe. On April 13, the mayors of Milan (Italy), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Barcelona (Spain), and Paris (France), made a collective statement regarding the rapidly rising death toll in their cities:
"First of all, we believe that the 2008 crisis (Editor Note: The Lehman Crisis) and the austerity-based response has to be a learning process. The lack of a commitment towards a social solution to the crisis at that time weakened our public services, delayed economic growth and generated social inequality that we are still paying the price for. The cities have experienced first-hand the consequences of those policies, caring for the most vulnerable people and facing the suffering that they caused. Today, with the public services responding heroically to the pandemic, we miss the resources that did not reach us due to the cutback policies. We mustn’t go back to a failed formula. Secondly, understanding everything that is at stake in these negotiations, we request that the principles of solidarity and cooperation prevail.”
The statement that “we mustn’t go back to a failed formula” is extremely important.
How have the developed nations acted in terms of hospital beds, as we entered the 21st century? The following data is based on information from the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), comparing the year 2000 with present day. For every 100,000 people, available beds have decreased roughly 30 to 40 percent: US went from 349 to 277, Italy from 471 to 318, UK from 408to 254, and France from 797 to 598.
Neo-liberalism, in particular the austerity measures caused by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, caused the weakening of the medical institutions in various European nations, and this, in turn, has become even more evident in the ways that the medical system collapses manifested themselves amidst this current COVID-19 crisis.
<"Society Exists" -- Self-reflections by Neo-liberalists>
Should we continue such a policy? There are increasingly more voices raised from even within the neo-liberalist circles.
It is still fresh in our memories when Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of UK and himself a recovery from COVID-19, stated that “COVID-19 has reminded us that ‘societies actually exist.’” and to “Protect our national health insurance system.” His statements directly went against what Prime Minister Thatcher and former leader of the Conservative party had promoted: “small government” and individual responsibilities, both based on Neo-liberal ideologies, along with her statement that “societies don’t exist.”
I believe that, symbolically, Prime Minister Johnson’s statements reflect the fact that neo-liberalism isn't welcomed anywhere anymore, especially in times of crisis.
All Aspects of Japanese Society Has Become Vulnerable - the Time to Move from Neo-Liberalism Is Now
What about Japan?
We can see today the problems that have been caused by the adoption of neo-liberal policies in Japan from the 1980s, which ridded Japanese society of any humanity and accommodation capacity in various aspects. This is especially so as we battle this COVID-19 crisis. I would like to examine this through the problems we see in the medical and public health fields.
<"Medical Systems on the Brink of Collapse" -- a result of reducing medical funding over the years>
As COVID-19 spread dramatically through April and May, there were numerous voices raised regarding the depletion of empty ICU beds across Japan, and that the medical system was on the “brink of collapse.” The significant number of bed and PCR test shortages across Japan, there were numerous cases of ambulances not being able to adequately take emergency suspected patients with COVID-19 to hospitals, and furthermore, there were several cases where suspected patients had succumbed due to a lack of open beds. Regional hospitals were struck hard by the crisis as well, with over 200 hospitals and medical facilities recording in-hospital infections of medical personnel and patients.
A thing of concern is that the Japanese medical system was on the “brink of collapse” on May 10, when we had 15,000 cases of infection. This is when France and Germany both had 10 times more cases, and Italy and Spain had 15 times more cases comparatively to Japan.
Per every 100,000 citizens, Japan only has 5 ICU beds. Germany has 6 times this amount, and even Italy, which is seemed to have suffered medical collapse, had twice as many as Japan. This is a rather horrific number. The number of doctors in Japan is similarly horrific, with only 2.4 doctors per 1,000 citizens. This places Japan at 32nd in all 36 OECD nations, and based on OECD data, we are lacking as many as 140,000 doctors in Japan. I believe that if Japan indeed had a few more infections in April to May, we could have seen widespread deaths, akin to what happened to our European friends. This is something we need to tackle moving forward.
I was able to meet with Mr. Henmi Kimio once. He is the chair of the National Federation of Public and Private Medical Institutions, which oversees over 1600 member organizations. When we met, he told me “Theoretically, hospitals are required to prepare for emergency situations with extra capacity. However, that was not the case in Japan, and the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated this.” Chair Henmi said the following in an Akahata interview:
“In reality, there need to be extra beds prepared in medical institutions, as they need to be prepared for emergency situations. However, the Japanese government has taken the stance of ‘efficiency superiority,’ which has led to hospitals being forced to maximize their patient intake in order to maximize their medical funding...... In particular, the government has been keen on trying to reduce funding towards regional hospitals through their initiatives, stating gibberish such as ‘sending tax money to regional medical institutions is a waste of money.’ Whenever there come times of emergency, the phrase that often gets tossed around is ‘Gambare (you can do it),’ but in reality, our hands are already tied due to the aforementioned factors. The national policy of ‘efficiency superiority’ is seen most acutely in the sheer lack of medical personnel across the nation. As the government has turned a blind eye towards fostering greater medical initiatives, especially for infectious disease mitigation, Japan sees a diminishing number of infectious disease personnel and specialists. All of the above have undeniably led to what we see today during this COVID-19 crisis.”
The vulnerabilities we see in the Japanese medical system amidst this crisis is undeniably the fruit of forcefully reducing funding to the medical fields that the Japanese government has pursued over the years.
The origins of this mess were one of the first neo-liberal policy changes we endured in the 1980s led by the Ad Hoc Commission on Administrative Reform. In 1983, the Ministry of Health and Welfare at the time, decided abruptly that "If you continue increasing state medical expenses, the state will collapse,” and proclaimed that medical austerity is the “right thing to do.” As a result, as revealed in the current pandemic, we have a sheer lack of beds, doctors, and nurses, leading to medical system to a “brink of collapse,” and furthermore, is putting a lot of economic strain on hospitals and clinics across the nation.
I strongly believe that to prepare for the “2nd wave” as well as the future of Japan as a whole, it is of utmost importance to stop with the austerity measures forced upon the medical community, and instead, support them to our fullest extent.
<Severely weakened Public Health Centers -- Caused by neo-liberal restructuring policies>
In regards to public health, the public health centers, which are responsible for infectious disease control in the forefront, has been considerably weakened.
All employees of the public health centers across the nation are working day and night amidst this COVID-19 crisis. I had the opportunity to talk with one of the employees recently regarding the harsh realities of their workplace. Day in day out, employees are working on PCR test counseling, coordinating inpatient activities, and the transporting of laboratory specimens. During the evenings, they are working on contact tracing. There were numerous instances of the “phone line dying” and that they could not “administer the PCR tests in a timely manner,” which both exacerbated the situation.
These are some of the results of neo-liberal restructuring that occurred in the past. By the 1990s the Community Health Law and the "operational efficiency,” along with “decentralization" initiatives of the 2000s, the number of public health centers fell from 850 locations in 1990 to 472 places in 2019.
Originally, public health centers were established to fight tuberculosis epidemics which Japan suffered from nationally. The fact that the public health centers existed, even in its dwindling numbers, has undeniably assisted in the government’s initiatives to contain COVID-19 clusters as much as possible.
I believe strongly that public health centers need to be bolstered in numbers across the nation, if we were to prepare for the “2nd wave” of COVID-19, or, any future global pandemics that may arise.
<Making the way for an opposition coalition government based on the transition away from neo-liberalism>
We have discussed the issues pertaining to medical and public health. However, the failures of neo-liberalism and the weakening effects it has on society span a number of other fields as well, including senior care facilities, welfare for handicapped citizens, childcare, employment, economy, and education. What the COVID-19 crisis has done is that it has allowed for an even greater number of people from all walks of life raise their voices of concern and critique against neo-liberalism and the need for a transition away from this.
On May 28, I held a conversation with the head of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Mr. Edano, at an online event titled “How should the younger generation view post-COVID-19 politics?” At the event, I stated that “amidst the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen the failure of neo-liberalism. And people are starting to feel that. We would like to propose a humane vision for the post-COVID-19 future ahead of us, where we are able to live in a society of mutual cooperation, and not forced individualism.”
Mr. Edano stated that the “Japanese Communist Party has always raised the alarm from the very beginning” regarding the austerity measures against the medical communities. And furthermore, he voiced in the strongest manner his critique of neo-liberalism, stating that “it is necessary for us to transcend this current scheme of individual responsibility, and move towards a society and political system where we can mutually cooperate for a better future and that carries out appropriate reallocation.” I believe that we made progress, in that we both agreed that we need to oppose neo-liberalism, and guide ourselves towards a future of cooperation and solidarity.
Based on the experience of the new coronavirus crisis, with the banner of the transition from neo-liberalism, I sincerely hope that we will further develop the joint struggle between concerned citizens and the opposition parties and open the way to forming an opposition coalition government.
What Kind of Japan Should We Build After Overcoming the Corona Crisis--Seven Proposals
<Let us create a better future after COVID-19 rather than return to the previous “norm”>
What kind of Japan will we build after putting an end to neo-liberalism?
I think many citizens, in light of this shared experience of the corona crisis, are desperately wishing to “make a better future post-corona instead of going back to the way society was.” I would like to take this opportunity to propose establishing a new Japanese society after overcoming the corona crisis in the following ways.
--The first is to make a society that strongly supports care for otheres. The corona crisis has made it clear that people cannot live their lives alone and without mutual caring, life with dignity cannot be guaranteed. Despite this in Japan, care work—professions that protect lives, such as medical care, elderly care, care for those with disabilities, and childcare—have been undervalued.
Those working in the medical field have always been forced to work extremely long hours. In elderly care, care for those with disabilities, and childcare, wages are lower than that of the average workers’ by 100,000 yen per month, and a “lack of workers” caused by the low wages is a serious problem.
As a whole, Japan’s social expenditure ratio against the GDP is 22.7%, and stands at 80% of Germany’s 27.0% or Sweden’s 26.7%, and 70% of France’s 32.2%. Under such financially tight conditions we are unable to respond to crises, and this is something that we’re now painfully aware of. Let us create a society that properly supports life-saving care work.
--The second is to need to create labor regulations that will allow us to work with dignity. The corona crisis has led to several million people being laid off from work, but half of them are non-regular workers such as dispatched workers, temporary workers, and part-time workers without adequate labor law protection. Many who’ve lost their jobs were also non-regular employees. Many who work on a freelance basis have been dealt a massive blow.
The 1990s gave way to neo-liberalism, and the deregulation of labor laws it pursued cornered many workers into positions that are vulnerable to crises. Let us thoroughly reconsider such policies, and create work rules that protect workers’ rights, and force large companies to take responsibility. Now more than ever, let us create a society where eight hours of work is enough to life comfortably.
--The third is to create a society which guarantees each person’s right to education. The corona crisis exposed the problems associated with a “40-student class” system. In order to guarantee quality education, psychological care, and safety for our children, we must urgently realize smaller class sizes of about 20 students. Let us drastically increase the number of teachers and school staff and give our children, who have suffered the pain of long-term school closures, the gift of smaller classrooms.
The corona crisis has severely threatened university and college campus life, and we strongly demand a move towards halving college tuition fees. Japan’s public expenditure on education relative to GDP is 2.9%, ranking at the bottom of the 35 member countries of the OECD. If we can raise this to an average of 4.0%, we can easily increase the number of teachers and halve tuition fees.
--The fourth is to build a strong economy that has enough leeway to respond to times of crisis. The corona crisis halted the movement of people and goods, and this exposed the vulnerabilities of an economy that continued to sacrifice domestic demand and household finances while “depending on foreign demand” and “depending on inbound revenue (foreign tourists visiting Japan)”. I believe this is the opportunity to rethink the economic model that has relied on other countries for goods necessary for care work, such as medical masks and personal protection equipment, food, and energy.
Placing domestic demand and household finances and the needs of small and medium-sized companies at the core of economic measures, producing goods that are necessary for human life domestically as much as possible, and a transformation into a truly strong economy that can protect citizens from crisis is needed.
--The fifth is to establish a government that respects science and gains public trust and respect. During the corona crisis, the harmful influences of political leaders who disregard the scientific consensus, such as U.S. President Trump who suggested the treatment of “injecting disinfectant”, have become gravely apparent.
Prime Minister Abe does not fall far behind in this. The scientific conclusions such as the need of strengthening organizations and staff to countermeasure infectious diseases and of the expansion of PCR testing capabilities highlighted in the government’s “Report of the Review Meeting on Measures against Pandemic Influenza (A/H1N1)“ published in 2010, were ignored. His spontaneous measures such as the nation-wide closure of schools and “Abenomask” folly ignored scientific insights and resulted in confusion and distrust. I believe the corona crisis has taught us the importance of establishing a government that respects science and is trusted by the people.
--The sixth is to create a country that values culture and arts. Those in the industries related to various cultural events have suffered losses of 690 billion yen, while making a massive contribution to society by helping to prevent the movement of an estimated 200 million people. Despite this, the support they’re receiving remains low.
At the root of this problem is the cultural budget, which is one tenth of France and one ninth of South Korea. What’s more, there is an “ideological poverty in regards to culture”, which is in stark contrast with the position of German Minister of Culture, who stated that “culture and arts are not luxuries, but rather, are a necessity for human life” and declared “unlimited support”. Let us create a country that protects and cultivates culture and the arts as an indispensable addition to human life.
--The seventh is to create a gender-equal society. The corona crisis has uncovered Japan’s reality of being a “backwards country in gender equality”. More hardships and sacrifices were forced on women, who make up the majority of the care-giving workforce and non-regular workforce. As people were encouraged to stay indoors, domestic violence and abuse took a turn for the worse.
One serious problem in the government’s response was that they made the “head of the household” the recipients of the 100,000-yen benefit. The JCP takes this opportunity to strongly demand the abolishment of the “head of household” rule, which derives from the pre-war feudalistic concept of the “householder” in the “family system”, has no legal basis, and also contradicts the principles of the Japanese Constitution. Let us work hard to incorporate a perspective of gender in all aspects of the measures taken against the corona crisis and create a gender-equal society after the crisis.
A common thread in all of these seven proposals is to transform politics from one that only prioritizes economic efficiency to one that prioritizes areas that are absolutely necessary for humans to live, such as human care, employment, education, food, energy, and culture and arts. It is to create a society that values collaboration and people supporting one another rather than one enforcing self-responsibility which creates division among the people. It is also to create a Japan that is strong enough to stand up against infectious diseases and various natural disasters.
I call upon you from the bottom of my heart to share these ideas with concerned citizens and opposition parties, and after overcoming the corona crisis create a new Japan in which everybody can live with hope and dignity.
<Correcting politics that “centers around financial circles” and is “subordinate to the U.S.”, and fundamentally transforming Japanese politics>
The seven proposals I just shared with you are deeply connected to two distortions in Japanese politics.
The distorted politics which “centers around financial circles” created a “capitalism without rules” in which rules that protect the citizens’ livelihoods are non-existent or not enforced, and this is what fundamentally caused the cuts made in social welfare, destroyed humane employment, and weakened the Japanese economy into one that can’t handle crises. Let us correct this distortion through social solidarity and create an “economy governed by rules”.
Neo-liberalism originated in the U.S., and the repeated deregulations to meet the U.S. request for the sake of the further profit of multinational corporations and global finance have resulted in today’s crisis. Even during the corona crisis, the new U.S. military base in Henoko continues to be constructed, the binge buying of extremely expensive U.S. weapons continues, and U.S. military bases are concealed in a black box in terms of infectious disease countermeasures as the Japanese government is unable to interfere—I believe it is time to correct politics that centers around the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and blindly follows the U.S..
It is the JCP Program’s major goal to reform Japan by correcting the abnormal politics which “centers around financial circles” and is “subordinate to the U.S”, and to create a Japan in which the "people are sovereign". Let us overcome the corona crisis, and work for the fundamental transformation of Japanese politics with the power of collaboration of the people.
II. Capitalism is being questioned
The second angle is regarding the contradictions in global capitalism.
The revised program specifies the two points of concentration of the contradictions of global capitalism: “the unprecedented worldwide expansion of the gap between rich and poor” and “climate change, which is causing various disasters on a global scale”.
Under the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear how serious the two contradictions of global capitalism, the widening of the gap between rich and poor and the destruction of the global environment, which the revised program particularly highlights, truly are. The pandemic poses a serious question to humanity as to whether the capitalist system should continue as it is.
Expansion of the Gap Between Rich and Poor Is Accelerating Rapidly Under the Pandemic
The expansion of the gap between rich and poor is accelerating rapidly under the pandemic. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.
<The poor are the hardest hit victims while the wealth of the richest people rapidly increased>
The biggest victims are those who are in poverty.
The fact that income inequality directly affects inequality in life expectancy is a major issue worldwide. In the U.S., systemic racism further aggravates income inequality. Commencing with income, employment, housing and health, the various social inequalities faced by blacks and minorities increase the risk of infection and death. According to the Brookings Institution in the United States, mortality rates among Black and Hispanic/Latino people between the ages of 45 and 54 are more than six times higher than for white people in that age group.
Similarly in Japan, the more vulnerable people are particularly hard hit and have fallen into distress. The coronavirus crisis has forced “Internet cafe refugees” to live on the streets, and deprives jobs and incomes from non-regular workers, freelance workers, and single-parent households.
On the other hand, the wealthy were temporarily hit by the sharp drop in stock prices at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, but the stock prices recovered rapidly due to the monetary easing of governments and central banks, and the wealth of the richest people rapidly increased.
Calculating from the “World’s Billionaires List” in the U.S. magazine “Forbes”, the total assets of billionaires who own more than 1 billion dollars totaled 8 trillion dollars as of March 18 and has increased to 10.2 trillion dollars as of July 10. In just four months, the total assets have increased by 2.2 trillion dollars (about 230 trillion yen). While many ordinary people in the world suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic, the wealthy quickly recovered and are increasing their fortunes.
On July 13, 83 millionaires from around the world issued an open letter that they would “ask their governments to raise taxes on people like us.” Isn’t it only natural to move in this direction?
<Developing countries suffer from other infectious diseases, poverty and food crisis>
The contradiction of the widening the gap between developed and developing countries is also erupting under the pandemic.
In many developing countries, including Africa, they are still suffering from the three major infectious diseases of malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. However, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the situation and creates more serious consequences. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that lockdowns to contain the coronavirus will increase the death toll from the three major infections by hundreds of thousands each.
There are strong concerns about exacerbating poverty and the food crisis. The World Bank warns that approximately 40 to 60 million people can fall into extreme poverty, with sub-Saharan Africa suffering the most followed by South Asia. The World Food Program (WFP) fears that 265 million people will face critical levels of hunger leading to starvation unless swift action is taken.
Professor Nahoko Shindo, who is a World Health Organization (WHO) senior adviser, stated the following by indicating that the crisis would accelerate unless the world and Japan looks squarely at what’s happening in Africa:
“If international cooperation continues to go wrong, the novel coronavirus may spread in Africa. A spread in Africa means that the world is at risk. I can say that even if the people don’t come to Japan directly from Africa, infectious diseases will be transmitted to people through various relay points, so as long as there is a possibility of spread of infection in Africa, Japan is always exposed to the risk of infection.” (In an interview with “NHK Special” aired on June 27, -- “Novel coronavirus. Will crisis be repeated? Where is the pandemic going?)
This is a dire warning.
I strongly emphasize that international support for developing countries suffering from other infectious diseases, poverty, and starvation is an urgent task that needs to be taken.
Occurrence of New Infectious Disease and Global Environmental Destruction: “Disturbance of Substance Metabolism” by Capitalism
Another serious manifestation of the systematic contradiction of capitalism, which is the destruction of the environment on a global scale, is deeply associated with the pandemic of infectious diseases.
<New infectious diseases: Human-induced ecological disorder may promote viral hosts switching from animals to humans>
It is said that human civilization has faced epidemics of infectious diseases since the beginning of human settlement.
In this regard, however, new infectious diseases have appeared one after another in the last half century, including HIV/AIDS, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Avian influenza, Nipah virus infection, Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coil infection, West Nile fever, Lassa fever, and currently COVID-19. According to the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, at least 30 new infectious diseases have emerged over the last 30 years. The frequency of new infectious diseases outbreaks is too high – this is what experts point out.
What is the cause of this phenomenon? Many experts point out that human disorderly encroachment into natural ecosystems, tropical forest destruction, and global warming leads to shrinking wildlife habitats, and with the distance between humans and animals shortened viruses have jumped from animal hosts into the human population, which leads to a new infection emerging.
<World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)‘s report and call for incorporating a One Health approach>
Then, how is the virus transferred from wildlife to humans?
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), an NGO working in over 100 countries around the world, published a report on June 17 calling for global action to prevent the next pandemic. The following three points are indicated in the report as the main causes of zoonotic diseases.
-- The First is contact with new pathogens caused by deforestation. The WWF report states regarding the origin of Ebola, “Many researchers have directly linked the rates of deforestation in West and Central Africa to an increased likelihood of Ebola outbreaks. …… In the Guinean forests, which span West Africa, the cultivation of crops including cacao, palm oil and rubber is driving extensive forest clearance and widespread fragmentation. The Congo Basin, which contains 20 percent of the world’s tropical forests, is losing over 1 million hectares of tree cover per year, driven by increasing smallholder forest clearance for agriculture as well as large-scale commercial logging. …… Researchers believe that the extensive deforestation in these regions increases contact between humans and potential Ebola host species, such as fruit bats and primates, leading to greater potential for transmission from hosts to humans.”
--The second is intensification of agricultural production and animal husbandry that lacks harmony with nature. The WWF report describes the 1998 Nipah virus outbreak -- an infectious disease that causes severe encephalitis --in Malaysia: “Between the 1970s and the 1990s, both pig and mango production tripled in Malaysia, encroaching into natural ecosystems. Farmers typically planted mango trees alongside pig enclosures, which attracted fruit bats (known carriers of the virus) to the area. Scientists believe that pigs may have consumed fruit contaminated with bat saliva or urine, leading to the spillover of the virus.” In this way, the transmission from pigs to humans spread on the farms where thousands of pigs were bred.
-- The third is the wildlife trade that may spread pathogens. The WWF report points out the following regarding the SARS outbreak spread from China in 2002: “Although the evidence is not conclusive, the initial disease outbreak is likely attributed to human contact with infected palm civets and raccoon dogs in a wildlife market in Guangdong province. …… Studies have also linked the SARS outbreak with the illegal wildlife trade in small carnivorous mammals through unregulated handling practices.”
These points suggest that humanity’s disorderly interventions on ecosystems and the ensuing environmental destruction bring about new infectious diseases. The origin of Covid-19 has not yet been identified but it is thought that the virus emerged from a severely damaged environment. It shows the harmful effects of capitalism pursuing maximum profits without any consideration of its devastating impact on ecosystems.
In order to prevent the emergence of yet another pandemic, the WWF advocates a “One Health” approach in its report, underlining the bond of the health of people along with that of animals living in a shared environment. To be specific, they point out that we must curb the high risk trade and consumption of wildlife, halt deforestation and land conversion, and manage food production sustainably.
This “One Health Approach” is an essential idea to ensure a sustainable future for our planet and the survival of the human species. I call on the international community to take immediate actions to contain a further spread of Covid-19 based on valuable international practices being used to fight the new coronavirus pandemic.
< Profit-first principle under capitalism devastated relations between viruses and human beings >
Karl Marx in his work “Capital”, identified economic activities as the “Metabolism” between humanity and nature. At the same time, he stated that capitalist relations and forces of production basing industrial activities on the profit-first principle fundamentally disturbs the metabolic interaction between human beings and the planet.
In regard to the disrupted metabolism between humans and nature with capitalism production, both global climate change and emerging new plagues have a common origin.
The impacts of climate change have taken decades before being recognized but the impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic have been discerned within months. However, they have the same root, environmental disruption caused by profit-first principle under capitalism. Additionally, the report issues a warning that climate change distorts the geographical distribution of animals which increases the risk of an outbreak of a new plague.
Taro Yamamoto, professor at Nagasaki University Institute of Tropical Medicine, talks about the link between viruses and human beings and points out that most of viruses coexist with human beings. Some endogenous retroviruses work to protect against the original virus. Endogenous retroviruses are fragments for an infectious virus that was already present in an animal host. Additionally, some recent studies show that viruses may protect mammal fetuses. In the oceans worldwide, a massive number of viruses have been found. Research shows that some viruses work to create circulation of CO2 and clouds. By trial and error, viruses have built complicated and solid networks in the ecosystem for billions years, which is one of the fundamental structures supporting all creatures on the earth. (World, July edition).
This is an important perspective to capture the features of viruses. Viruses have created an enriched circle of the ecosystem for several billions of years and have coexisted with human beings. However, profit-first approaches under capitalism have distorted this circle and new plagues have emerged which leads to the emergence of new viruses one after another.
The pandemic of Covid-19 is a significant warning to the human race. In other words, if we continue the same capitalist means of production, we will face another, more devastating virus outbreak. This is the time to reconsider whether maintaining the capitalist system pursuing only profits leading invariably to environmental devastation is sustainable.
The limitations of Capitalism, Spreading hopes for Socialism
Now it should be noted that, the pandemic of Covid-19 highlighted two major issues, economic disparity and environmental devastation, which are harmful effects of global capitalism and becoming worse than ever. From various perspectives, a broad range of people are pointing to the limitations of capitalism and the need for socialism.
< Everybody Thinks Capitalism has its Limits”by President of Kyoto University, Juichi Yamagiwa >
A profile pioneer of Primatology Juichi Yamagiwa, President of Kyoto University and President of the Science Council of Japan, in an interview in Newspaper Akahata, said that “the origin of the current plague is emerging from developments associated with the exploitation of resources by human beings negatively impacting stable ecosystems. We should question the fundamental principle of capitalism, pursuing profits for further financial investments. Capitalism doesn’t take into consideration negative aspects in the destruction of nature. As natural environments “say nothing”, capitalism continue to exploit it. Some developed countries have been trying to make use of nature resources in developing countries to make their profits. Our planet cannot remain healthy and sustainable if human beings are not determined to change the way in which the natural environment is being destroyed. Under the continuing fight against Covid-19, I think, everybody has come to realize that capitalism has its limits”.
This comment by Prof. Yamagiwa who repeatedly visited Africa for Primatology research, “everybody thinks capitalism has its limits”, is something truly significant.
<More young people in the U.S favor “Socialism” over “Capitalism”>
I’d like to introduce an article from “Forbes” (May 26th) about change in consciousness of young people in the U.S.. This article proclaims, “The world is transforming at a pace unlike any experienced since World War II. In a matter of weeks, seismic, permanent shifts have occurred in how we work, learn and transact. The most significant shift is taking place in our economic system itself.”
“Capitalism, the greatest engine for prosperity and innovation ever created, was already under strain before the coronavirus pandemic・・・a plurality of Americans still reported feeling as though the system was rigged, that hard work and playing by the rules no longer ensured success.・・・Those feelings have only accelerated this spring, particularly among the young. At the end of February, during the last week of the pre-Covid era, Forbes surveyed 1,000 American adults under age 30 about capitalism and socialism. Half approved of the former; 43% regarded the latter positively. Ten weeks, 80,000 deaths and 20 million unemployment claims later, we repeated the exercise, and those already dismal results had flipped: 47% now approve of socialism, 46% of capitalism. You can see those changing sentiments playing out in public, as ideas such as universal basic income, rent amnesties and job guarantees move rapidly from the fringe to the mainstream.”
With states of emergency imposed due to the new coronavirus, more young people in the U.S have started to support “socialism” over “capitalism”. A progressive future society beyond the framework of capitalism, and public turn toward “socialism” have immediately become part of “mainstream” ideology. Forbes pointed to this trend as a “dismal result”, but for us, this is a hopeful opportunity to work to establish a progressive society.
<Advancing the Direction in Socialism is a Prospect of Fundamental Solution for Current Disasters>
The grotesque widening of wealth gaps and the increasing pace of environmental destruction require governments to take immediate action for the very survival of humanity. The advanced capitalist countries in particular must make every efforts to overcome this existential crisis from within the framework of capitalism.
Additionally, progressive future society overcoming capitalism, advancing socialism or capitalism is a path to fundamentally resolve various harmful effects of capitalism. As Marx stated in “Capital”, advancing in a direction toward a progressive future offers a bright prospect for abolishing disparities in income and wealth, and a balanced relationship between human beings and nature.
Setsu Kobayashi, professor emeritus at Keio University, sent a message of solidarity to our memorial ceremony saying, “this is the time that communism should be evaluated properly, without prejudgments”. Let’s share our hopeful appeal to advance in the direction of socialism or communism, which will offer the prospect of overcoming major problems we see in the world around us.
III. The international community's responsiveness is being tested
Overcoming the crisis through solidarity of governments and civil society
The third angle is the question of how the international community should respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Systemic contradictions both in the U.S. and China have erupted and differences between the two have become more serious
What is critical now is that the systemic contradictions both in the U.S. and China have erupted in the midst of the pandemic, and the confrontation between the two is becoming more serious.
<The "America First” Trump administration turns its back on international cooperation>
Meanwhile, the world's most powerful capitalist power under the U.S. Trump administration has taken the position of "America First” and is turning its back on efforts to overcome the pandemic through international cooperation. In particular, the US notice of withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO) has become a major impediment to international cooperation, and US credibility is being further diminished. Though the WHO’s response to the COVID-19 has problems that need to be addressed, a review of the organization’s response should be done from the perspective of strengthening international cooperation. The choice to leave the body is nothing short of foolish.
In addition, structural discrimination against blacks has become a major issue in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. There has been widespread outrage in the United States and abroad over the assault and death of George Floyd by police officers. The attitude of President Trump, instead of working to eradicate discrimination and promote social cohesion, is one of stirring up division and conflict.
The April 2 UN General Assembly resolution on the pandemic “emphasizes the need for full respect for human rights, and stresses that there is no place for any form of discrimination, racism and xenophobia in the response to the pandemic.” It must be said that the attitude of the U.S. government is contrary to the spirit of this U.N. General Assembly resolution and is a serious obstacle to international cooperation.
I urge the Trump administration to reverse its decision to withdraw from the WHO.
<China-- The systemic problems of human rights abuses and hegemonism have been laid bare>
On the other hand, as the world's second largest economy, China's systemic problems of human rights abuses and hegemonism have been laid bare with the pandemic.
The initial delay in the COVID-19 response was deeply tied to the regime's problems concerning human rights. By early January, an institution in Wuhan had sequenced the gene and submitted a report, but the central government banned the publication of the information. A number of doctors and journalists who courageously sounded the alarm were suppressed as "demagogues." In mid-January, a big event was held for tens of thousands of people in Wuhan, and the authority allowed the movement of people through the Chinese New Year holidays. It is clear that these decisions have resulted in the spread of the infection both domestically and transnationally, and the responsibility of the authority for this is grave. In 2003, when the SARS epidemic broke out, then President Hu Jintao at a post-APEC summit press conference candidly stated, “[W]e would even feel responsible to the people of the whole world […] if we sat idly by and saw the spread of this dangerous diseases to other parts of the world.” Now, however, Chinese leader Xi Jinping is just bragging about his regime's response, and is reluctant in sharing experiences and lessons learned.
In addition, China's forcible enactment of the "Hong Kong National Security Law" is a significant milestone in the rampant suppressing of Hong Kong's civil and political rights and democracy. It is in direct contradiction to China’s international commitment of "one country, two systems” and nothing more than an obstacle to international cooperation in resolving the pandemic. The Japanese Communist Party strongly protests this move and demands its withdrawal.
It is also unacceptable that China is escalating, rather than curbing, even under the pandemic, its hegemonic actions to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas by force.
In my report on the partial revision of the Party Program to the 28th Party Congress in January, I stated, "Though the CCP calls itself 'socialist' and 'communist,' its actions are ones of great power chauvinism and hegemonism. They do not deserve the name 'Communist Party.'” In light of China's lawlessness and outrageousness under the COVID-19 crisis, I reiterate this point here as well.
Calling for solidarity and cooperation of the international community for curbing the pandemic
<The international community's solidarity and cooperation is moving forward, step by step>
Is there no hope for international cooperation under such circumstances? I don't think so. It is noteworthy that the solidarity and cooperation of the international community in resolving the pandemic is moving forward step by step despite the various obstacles brought to bear by the antagonism between the United States and China.
On April 2, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus the resolution "Global solidarity to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).” On May 19, the WHO General Assembly unanimously adopted the resolution "COVID-19 response." Furthermore, on July 1, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling for an immediate global ceasefire. Scientific organizations such as scientific councils and academies in 15 nations jointly called for an immediate action for international cooperation.
It is important to note that even though obstacles have been brought in by the United States and China, progress is being made, thanks to the efforts of European countries, Oceanian nations, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and other Asian countries, and most importantly, thanks to the voices of the peoples of the world who are suffering from the epidemic.
<International cooperation to end the pandemic-- the Four Calls of the JCP>
On May 21, the Japanese Communist Party issued a statement entitled "solidarity and cooperation of the international community to end the pandemic” and shared the statement with the United Nations and countries around the world. I am calling for a concerted international effort to move forward in the following four directions.
The first is establishing comprehensive cooperation in medical and health care. The content of the cooperation that should be undertaken now is based on the resolution of the WHO General Assembly adopted unanimously on May 19, including the United States and China. Strengthening collaboration at all levels to contain the pandemic, working on a vaccine and providing affordable medical supplies and information in an equitable manner, strengthening humanitarian assistance to developing countries and people in vulnerable situations, and conducting impartial and independent investigation into the WHO's response should be included. The nature of the cooperation that needs to be undertaken is clear, and the question to be asked is if governments are willing to implement these measures, especially the United States and China.
The second is international support for developing countries. Nearly half of low-income countries in Africa, Asia, and other parts of the world are in dire straits due to external debt, and budgeting for the COVID-19 response has thus been constrained. The G20 nations have agreed to defer the poorest countries' external debt repayments, but the UN and African Union are calling for more support. U.S. Senator Sanders sent a letter to the president of the World Bank and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) calling for the cancelation of the debt of the poorest countries. The letter has been endorsed by more than 300 parliamentarians from more than 20 countries around the world, and I myself recently sent a letter of support to Senator Sanders. I would like to emphasize that along with debt forgiveness, food assistance is also urgently needed.
Third, we will focus our efforts on countermeasures against the COVID-19 by implementing an immediate ceasefire in the world's conflict zones and disarmament, including the abolition of nuclear weapons. The pandemic made it clear that armed conflicts make the COVID-19 crisis even more catastrophic and that the military buildup is completely useless in fighting against the virus. Even a huge nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has been left immobilized due to the outbreak of the disease among its crew members. It brought to light how vulnerable aircraft carriers, submarines and other closed and crowded spaces in military vessels really are. The Japanese Communist Party is calling for the strict implementation of the UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate global ceasefire worldwide.
South Korea is postponing some of its weapons purchases from the U.S. and is cutting military spending as measures to counter the pandemic. In Japan, too, the government should cut harmful and unnecessary military spending, such as the construction of a new base at Henoko, and use the money to fight the virus. Let us demand the government do so. In this year of the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing, we urge the international community to make further progress toward the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Fourth, we should aim for a fairer world by taxing the wealthy and others to create a source of funding for the fight against the pandemic. International organizations, including the WHO, have called on companies to contribute to help bring the pandemic to an end. Seven French researchers, including economist Thomas Piketty, have advocated higher taxes on large corporations and the wealthy. We should take measures including the introduction of an international financial transactions tax and higher corporate taxes through international cooperation to aim at a fairer tax system. We believe that the post-COVID-19 world should not be just a return to the old world, but an entry to a new fairer world working to attain the Sustainable Development Goals promoted by the UN General Assembly.
<A history of international collaborative efforts to combat infectious diseases--Now is the time to develop this further>
The international community has a history of international cooperation in combating infectious diseases by putting aside differences in political positions.
Even under the U.S.-Soviet Cold War era, the U.S. and the Soviet Union worked together in the 1950s to combat polio to bring the vaccine to market. In the 1960s and 1970s, they also worked together on the smallpox containment program, which led to the eradication of smallpox in the 1980s. In the Ebola epidemic in 2014 the U.S. Obama administration played an active role resulting in the creation of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, which helped contain the virus through international cooperation.
Viruses can easily cross borders. Individual responses from different countries will not be enough to control the spread of new diseases. With this in mind, humanity has a history of overcoming political conflicts to develop international cooperation.
Now is the time to develop this history further. We sincerely call for cooperation between governments and civil society throughout the world to bring the COVID-19 pandemic to an end.
Ⅳ. Looking at Pandemics in human history
Pandemics can be opportunity to change history – plague in 14th century
Finally, as the fourth angle I would like to now turn our attention to human history.
Throughout their history, human beings have experienced many infectious diseases pandemics, which have caused tremendous sufferings and death. However, pandemics can sometimes present an opportunity to change history by revealing and intensifying the contradictions in society.
<Plague became a catalyst for downfall of serfdom in medieval Europe>
One such pandemic was the plague (black death) pandemic in the 14th century. It emerged in central Asia, crossed the Eurasian continent and covered the whole of Europe. It is estimated that one-third to one-quarter of the European population died.
The plague had a great impact on European society. Europe at that time was in the process of developing a monetary economy under the serf system with serfs becoming liberated from their lords to become peasants and free farmers. Due to the plague, populations of farm villages dramatically decreased. While the lack of labor forces was emerging, agricultural workers’ status improved and their wages soared. With more serfs becoming free farmers, the institution of serfdom was greatly weakened by the end of the 14th century and eventually collapsed completely. This was how the institution of European serfdom fell, leading to the end of the Middle Ages and opening of the door to capitalism.
It would be an exaggeration to conclude that the plague was the cause of the downfall of serfdom. A pathogen does not have the power to transform a society. At the same time, we can say undoubtedly that the plague became one of the catalysts hastening the downfall of serfdom and that it accelerated the transition from serfdom to capitalism. As Tokyo University Professor Emeritus Murakami Yoichiro wrote in his book “Pest dairyuko - Europe chusei no hokai (Outbreak of plague - Collapse of medieval Europe)”, “The black death was a decisive gear in the rise of capitalism.”
A pandemic is a tragedy that takes a huge toll on people, but it sometimes can be an opportunity to change history.
<“Centuries of struggle between capitalist and labourer” starting with “Statute of Labourers” (Marx) >
In Karl Marx’s “Capital,” accounts on the plague appear in “The Working Day” in its Chapter 8 of Volume 1. The first “Statute of Labourers” was created in 1349 in Britain during the era of Edward III. With the plague dramatically decreasing the population and agricultural workers’ wages skyrocketing, it became necessary to curb the wage increase by force. Therefore, the “Statute of Labourers” was established for the first time in history. However, a single law was not enough to stop this trend, and similar regulatory laws were repeatedly enacted.
In this Chapter, Marx described two historical periods of “the struggle for a normal working day.”
The first period was “from the middle of the 14th to the end of the 17th century” when capitalists imposed compulsory laws for extending working days (working hours) on workers. Marx recognized the 1349 “Statute of Labourers” in England as the first of this kind.
The second period was “the English Factory Acts, 1833 to 1864” when, contrary to the first period, working days (working hours) became compulsorily limited by law. The ten-hour workday established between 1848 and 1850 in Britain was a landmark achievement of worker’s long struggles.
In “Capital,” Marx wrote, “The establishment of a normal working day is the result of centuries of struggle between capitalist and labourer”.
The “Statute of Labourers” created in the 14th century in the wake of the plague pandemic was a historical event that marked the beginning of “centuries of struggle between capitalist and labourer”. As a result of the centuries-long fight following this event, the law that was initially designed to oppress workers was transformed into the one protecting their rights. The establishment of the ten-hour workday system has led to our present struggle to further shorten working hours. In this sense, the plague pandemic of the 14th century is related to the ongoing movement in Japan to create “a society where people can live a decent life with an eight-hour workday”.
Novel coronavirus pandemic – ongoing move accelerating change of history
<Killing of Black people in U.S. - movement calling for historical review of colonialism and slavery>
I said earlier that an infectious disease pandemic can sometimes be an opportunity to transform history and accelerate its development. I think the same thing can be said for the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
Protests against the killing of George Floyd by police in the U.S. quickly spread across the nation, Europe, and the rest of the world. They have taken place at more than 2,000 locations in the U.S. as well as in more than 200 cities in 72 countries and regions, including several cities in Japan.
What is important is that these protests have erupted from outrage over structural racial discrimination to a call for a critical assessment of the history of colonialism and the slave trade.
In the U.S., statues of Robert E.Lee, commander of the Confederate States Army promoting slavery in the Civil War, have been removed. In the U.K., a statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader who sent more than 80,000 men, women, and children from Africa to the Americas as slaves in the 17th century, was pulled down. In Belgium, statues of King Leopold II, an atrocious colonizer who turned Congo into a giant concentration camp and cut off the hands of black workers who were not able to meet their work quotas in the late 19th century, were removed.
On June 30th, Belgium’s King Philippe expressed the following apology in his letter to President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo:
“During the period of the Congo Free State (under the regime of King Leopold II), acts of violence and cruelty were committed, which still weigh on our collective memory. The colonial period which followed also caused suffering and humiliation. I would like to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past, the pain of which is now revived by the discrimination still too present in our societies.”
This is the first time that Belgium has expressed its apology to the Congo.
<U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for implementation of “Durban Declaration” – accelerating development of history>
The struggle to end the structural discrimination against Black people in the U.S. has continued persistently for so long. Why has it this time spread across the country and the rest of the world all at once? I think the reason may be due to the common experiences we are living through under the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Under the coronavirus crisis, all kinds of discrimination and injustice along with racial discrimination have become apparent in the U.S. and, many White, Hispanic, Asian, and indigenous people, especially those in their 20s and 30s, have joined in the protests. Similar moves have spread across Europe and the rest of the world.
The U.N. made a move too. On June 19, the U.N. Human Rights Council called an urgent conference and adopted the resolution calling for “the promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and of the people of African descent against excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers.”
The U.N. resolution calls for the implementation of the “Durban Declaration”, which was adopted at the “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance” in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.
The “Durban Declaration” acknowledges that “slavery and the slave trade, including the transatlantic slave trade” are “a crime against humanity.” It also states, “We acknowledge the suffering caused by colonialism and affirm that, wherever and whenever it occurred, it must be condemned and its reoccurrence prevented.”
While the implementation of the landmark “Durban Declaration” was called for, statues related to the abominable past were removed around the world, and Belgium’s King apologized for the country’s colonial rule. I would say that the change of world structure and the collapse of colonialist systems have played a vital role in the emergence of current events. This upheaval of the world shows that the novel coronavirus pandemic has become a major opportunity to change history and has accelerated its progress.
In terms of colonial rule, Japan also needs to face its past as colonizer. I strongly demand that the Japanese government should recognize this ongoing major world trend and reflect on its colonial rule on the Korean Peninsula and other areas.
Overcoming coronavirus crisis and creating new Japan and world with revised JCP Program
Japan is also at a major turning point in history.
<Through experiences of the coronavirus crisis, a major positive change is emerging in public awareness>
As the novel coronavirus crisis has affected everyone, many people realize that medical care, education, and public safety have been neglected. They are becoming aware of how dangerous the politics imposing “self-responsibility” on people is while their livelihoods and businesses are driven into difficulties. People thinking politics as not touching their lives are coming to realize that politics has very close relationship to their lives.
I believe that through the experience of surviving the coronavirus crisis, a major positive change, which is not temporary but more like a deep swell, is emerging in public awareness.
Let us gather together such positive changes and build a new Japan and world with the power of people’s solidarity after overcoming the coronavirus crisis.
<People’s struggle can open a hopeful future-We sincerely hope you decide to join the JCP>
As I have emphasized today, I am confident that the revised JCP Program serves as a solid compass in making such efforts.
What kind of Japan will we create after overcoming neoliberalism? How do we confront global capitalism which involves severe contradictions under the pandemic? How can we develop solidarity and cooperation in international politics? On every issue, the vitality of the revised Program is highlighted with under the crisis.
A pandemic sometimes can be an opportunity to change history. However, it is no more than an opportunity. People’s struggle always makes history. It is only through their struggle that people can open a hopeful future beyond the crisis.
Finally, I would like to make a heartfelt appeal. I sincerely hope that those of you who agree with my message today will become a JCP member and join us in our endeavor to build a new society.
At a time when many citizens are experiencing anxiety and agony due to the coronavirus crisis, JCP members and organizations feel sympathy for them and are working hard to alleviate their hardships at the grassroots level throughout Japan, demonstrating the “spirit of the party’s foundation” we are proud to have maintained throughout our 98-year history.
During the crisis and associated social upheaval, let us walk together to move history forward in a progressive direction. With this, I conclude my speech to celebrate this memorable day, the 98th anniversary of the Japanese Communist Party.
Thank you for listening.