Talking About the 100-Year History and Program of the Japanese Communist Party
Commemorative speech on
the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the JCP
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo
September 17, 2022
Table of contents
- I: Indomitable nature to stick to the cause of social progress without betraying the people under any difficulties
- II: Efforts toward self-reform based on scientific socialism
- The 1950 Question and the establishment of policy line of sovereign independence
- Theoretical and political developments of the programmatic line based on the policy line of sovereign independence
- Party activities and organizational structure-development of the principle of democracy and unity of action
- III: Maintaining stance of collaborating with people in pursuing united front to change politics
- Advance from late 1960s to 1970s - anti-communist campaign and "Socialist Party of Japan-Komei Agreement"
- Advance in late 1990s - anti-communist conspiracy and "choosing from two major parties"
- Advance in mid-2010s - increase in joint struggles between citizens and opposition parties
- Each step of anti-communist and reactionary attempts widens contradictions and makes ruling system fragile and weak
- Building bigger and stronger JCP - how to grasp party's historical development and outlook
- Conclusion - toward next 100 years.
This is an English translation of a speech which Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo gave in Tokyo on September 17, 2022 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the JCP foundation. The speech was titled, "Talking About the 100-Year History and Program of the Japanese Communist Party".
Good afternoon to everyone across the country. I am Shii Kazuo of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP). Thank you for coming for our commemorative speech today.
This year, 2022, marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the JCP on July 15, 1922. The past century has been marked by enormous progress, both in the world and in Japan, as well as by a number of tragedies.
The 100-year history of our party has been supported by the struggles of many of our predecessors who have walked the path of social progress together with the JCP, and by the many people who have supported the JCP in various ways. I would like to express my sincere respect and gratitude to all of them.
Today's talk is entitled "Talking About the 100-Year History and Program of the Japanese Communist Party".
Recently, several media outlets asked us, "How has the JCP lasted for 100 years?" Indeed, I think it is significant that a political party has maintained its vitality for a century and is looking to the future. I would like to answer this question by pointing out three characteristics that have been the hallmark of the JCP over its 100 years of existence. I would also like to express my determination to carry on and develop these characteristics in the "next 100 years".
Today's speech will be somewhat longer than in previous years, but the "centenary" only comes once every 100 years. Please allow me to speak until the end.
I: Indomitable nature to stick to the cause of social progress without betraying the people under any difficulties
The first characteristic of the JCP throughout the party's history is the indomitable nature to stick to the cause of social progress without betraying the people in the face of any difficulties.
When I speak of an indomitable nature, I do not mean just working hard blindly. Indomitable nature combined with the pioneering spirit of clarifying the future prospects for social development from the standpoint of science is the special characteristic of the JCP.
Prewar period-- the JCP took on a head-on challenge of transforming the absolute Tenno (Emperor) system of despotic politics
This challenge required literally life-threatening courage
The indomitable nature of the JCP's prewar history was, above all, an integral part of its commitment to tackle head-on the need for transformation of the absolute Tenno system of despotic politics.
The prewar and wartime Tenno system was completely different from today's Tenno system. It was a despotic state in which the Tenno had all the power to rule the country in his hands, leaving the people without rights, and a warfare state in which the Tenno urged the people to wars of aggression by just giving the order.
Even before the birth of the JCP, various movements seeking freedom and democracy emerged, including the Movement for Freedom and People's Rights (Jiyu Minken Undo), and among its most pioneering people, the notion of "people's sovereignty" appeared. Unfortunately, however, no movement ever went so far as to address squarely the issue of the Tenno system.
The founding of the JCP was historically significant because for the first time in Japan a political party based on scientific socialism had emerged that would squarely tackle the need for transformation of the absolute Tenno system of despotic politics, the greatest obstacle to the development of Japanese society. It also had national significance because it was the first time a political party had emerged to seriously tackle the issues of peace and democracy, such as opposition to the war of aggression and the realization of people's sovereignty.
Attitudes towards the Tenno system were the biggest touchstone of whether or not a position of social progress could be maintained. In prewar Japan, the JCP was outlawed from the outset, but political parties that generally called themselves "socialist", such as the Social Popular Party (Shakai Minshuto) and the Social Masses Party (Shakai Taishuto), were recognized as legitimate parties. They advocated "socialism" and the "dissolution of financial combines (Zaibatsu)", but were supportive of the Tenno system. What path did those parties take? In the run-up to the Pacific War, they fell into the path of joining the Imperial Rule Assistance Association (Taisei Yokusankai) and promoting a war of aggression together with the conservative parties.
The notorious Public Order Maintenance Law was revised for the worse in 1928 to establish the death penalty as the severest punishment for those who committed an act contributing to the accomplishment of the objective of "changing the national polity" -- the absolute Tenno system of despotic politics. On the other hand, the severest punishment for those who reject the "private property" system -- those who advocate socialism -- was left at the pre-revision level of penal servitude or imprisonment not exceeding ten years. This was a clear indication of what the ruling elite feared most. The challenge of changing the policy embracing the Tenno as the absolute ruler was one that required literally life-threatening courage.
Pioneering struggles against harsh suppression -- Its social influence was significant
Many predecessors lost their lives due to the crackdown and persecution by the Public Order Maintenance Law and the network of Special Political Police (tokko). Among the JCP predecessors who lost their lives were Kawai Yoshitora, Watanabe Masanosuke, Ueda Shigeki, Iwata Yoshimichi, Kobayashi Takiji, Noro Eitaro, Kokuryo Goichiro and Ichikawa Shoichi.
The history of the JCP records the struggles of many young female party members who fought tirelessly and lost their lives through their indomitable struggle. Ito Chiyoko, Takashima Mato, Tanaka Sagayo and Iijima Kimi -- these four comrades lost their lives at the young age of 24. It is widely known that tanka poet Tsuchiya Bunmei, who was Ito Chiyoko's teacher at the girls' school, composed a tanka poem in mourning for her death, who had cherished her faith at the cost of her life:
A young woman, who fell halfway
before achieving the lofty aim,
will be remembered in the light of a new era.
Having such predecessors is a source of great pride not only for the JCP, but also for the Japanese people. (Applause)
I would like to emphasize that the JCP was the party that pioneered and uncompromisingly raised the banner of women's liberation at the time. How pioneering was that struggle? The Public Security Preservation Law, the repressive law of the time, prohibited women from joining political parties. Public opinion and movements allowed women to participate in political rallies, but membership in political parties remained prohibited until after the war, when the Public Security Preservation Law was repealed. In other words, all political parties that were legal at the time consisted exclusively of men. Today, the issue of women's participation in politics has become an important pillar of gender equality. At that time, the JCP was the only political party with many female party members and the proud struggle of its female members was engraved in the party's history.
The JCP was able to stand before the Japanese people under the banner "Here is the JCP" for seven years from inauguration of "Sekki" (Red Flag) as a central organ paper in February 1928 until the JCP Central Committee was forced to suspend its activities due to crackdowns in March 1935. However, its social influence was significant.
The circulation of Sekki reached 7,000 copies at its highest, which were passed around and read by tens of thousands of readers. Literary works of Kobayashi Takiji and Miyamoto Yuriko were competitively published by 'Chuo Koron' and 'Kaizo', two popular magazines that were considered top-notch at the time. The "Lectures on the Development of Japanese Capitalism"(Nihon Shihon-shugi Hattatsu-shi Kouza), published under the leadership of Noro Eitaro, from the [major] publishing house Iwanami Shoten, was highly evaluated by the general public and it was widely read also by officials of the then Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and Ministry of Commerce and Industry.. Even by today's perspective, it is a scientific and monumental achievement in history and economics.
Critic Tsurumi Shunsuke, who later became one of the founders of the Article 9 Association, compared the existence of the JCP in the eyes of the intellectuals of the time to the Big Dipper. This shows how significant the existence and role of the JCP was in that period.
Rich work to prepare for a new postwar society -- 12 years of Miyamoto Kenji and Miyamoto Yuriko
In 1935, harsh suppression forced the JCP Central Committee to suspend its activities. Some take this as a reason to declare that the JCP was destroyed. However, I would like to emphasize that the JCP's activities continued, and amongst them were born the rich work to prepare for a new postwar society.
Here, I would like to introduce the 12-year struggle of Miyamoto Kenji, who made a great mark as a leader of the JCP before and after the war, and his wife Miyamoto Yuriko, the well-known revolutionary and democratic writer. The twelve years here refers to the period from December 1933, when Miyamoto Kenji was arrested, to October 1945, when he was liberated as a result of the defeat of the war.
A collection of letters by Miyamoto Kenji and Yuriko, entitled "Twelve Years of Letters," was published between 1950 and 1952 and was widely read. Although the collection of letters at that time consisted of extracts, almost all of letters of Kenji and Yuriko can now be read. I read the book again in preparation for my speech, and was deeply impressed by the record of the indomitable spiritual exchange between Kenji, who fought through the prison struggle as a member of the JCP without conversion, and Yuriko, who was constantly persecuted for her non-cooperation in the war, including arrests, imprisonment, and a writing ban, but struggled as the people's writer belonging to the JCP.
Assistance and advice were often given to Yuriko by Kenji in prison. Some of these included what Yuriko, in a letter to Kenji in prison in 1938, called "hasty criticism" -- "surprise criticism", that is a harsh criticism of the problems of Yuriko's life and literature. In a letter written by Kenji to Yuriko in 1943, he reiterated how important it was for her not to have any connection with the collection of works planned by the "Patriotic Association for Japanese Literature" (Bungaku Hokokukai), an organization set up during the war to compel literary figures to cooperate in the war effort. "When solitude is seemingly unavoidable in order to live conscientiously, it is the true literary person who accepts it gracefully. For such solitude is ......actually not isolation." Kenji encouraged Yuriko by saying this. Their correspondence records that Kenji's assistance and advice, and Yuriko's efforts to respond to it faithfully with all her might, helped her to grow and make great strides during the 12-year period.
In a letter to Kenji immediately after the war, Yuriko, who characterized herself with the word "childishness" during the first of these twelve years, said that she had "lived a life of no shame" as a writer, and expressed her gratitude to him, saying that she was able to do so because she "had an innocent life beside me". I believe that Yuriko's great growth over the previous twelve years and her emergence as a master of Japanese literature after the war was the result of Kenji's support and advice, and Yuriko's sincere efforts to respond to them.
At the same time, it must be stressed that Kenji's struggles in prison and in court would not have been possible without Yuriko's support and participation. In 1951, shortly after Yuriko's sudden death, Kenji reminisced about her in articles such as "Yuriko Reminiscence" (Yuriko Tsuisou) and "Yuriko fragmentary impression" (Yuriko Dansou). In 1937, when Kenji's intestinal tuberculosis was worsening and his death was thought to be only a matter of time, the preliminary judge said to Kenji, "If I can only get your statement, I will let you die in an outside hospital". Kenji recalls that Yuriko took the following attitude towards Kenji, who rejected the invitation and fought hard.
"Yuriko herself never once encouraged me to compromise in order to 'die like a human being', but encouraged my struggle with death with her gentle courage, and did not try to make me avoid the inevitable consequences of living properly by cowardly deception."
"When I appeared in the visitation room at the Sugamo Detention Center, where I was thought to be close to death from illness, and could barely walk due to bleeding in the intestines and general physical debilitation, she always smiled at me with kindness and strength, and never stopped smiling at me sincerely, asking 'How are you?'"
Despite her deteriorating health and financial difficulties due to her imprisonment, Yuriko created all the records related to Kenji's trial at her own expense and prepared all the materials necessary for Kenji to debunk the fabrications of the government in the trial. Regarding this situation, Kenji recalled with deep gratitude that "behind the defeat of the government's falsehoods and the defense of the truth......lay Yuriko's own great sacrificial efforts due to poverty and hardship".
The two thus greeted the defeat of Japanese militarism with solid preparations in a state of growth and maturity. This also appeared in her literature, such as "Banshu Heiya" (Banshu plain) and "Fuchiso" (Japanese forest grass), which were written soon after the war and which Yuriko herself called "works written overflowing like an overflowing river", and her masterpiece "Douhyou" (guidepost), which she herself called "a work in the middle".
Their correspondence over a period of 12 years, a record of their indomitable spiritual exchanges, are engraved with the image of Kenji who respects Yuriko as a woman, her talents, individuality and personality, and devotes himself to her growth. Also engraved on it is the image of Yuriko, who supports Kenji's struggle as a joint work at all costs and takes his advice wholeheartedly and grows.
The two figures who respect each other's personality and support each other are outstanding under the conditions of their time. It is a boundless encouragement for those of us living in the present on how to face the challenges and prepare for the next era in the most difficult times. (Applause)
Claims put forward by the JCP at the risk of its life bore fruit at the central content of the Japanese Constitution
There were immaturity, mistakes and failures in the prewar struggle of the JCP. There were also betrayals and defections. However, I believe that the 23-year prewar history of the JCP to be one of the proudest in the world's modern and contemporary history.
And history has proved the rightness of that undaunted struggles of the JCP. The claims of people's sovereignty and opposition to wars of aggression, which the JCP put forward, was written in to the Constitution of Japan. Critic Kato Shuichi, who later became one of the founders of the Article 9 association, stated in an article entitled "The Image of the World of the Japanese" (Nihonjin-no Sekai-zou) as follows:
"The abolition of the sovereignty of Tenno, the abolition of the large landlord system, the abolition of the House of Peers and the Privy Council, the abolition of standing armies, the implementation of universal suffrage, freedom of speech, assembly and association, an eight-hour work day, the minimum wage system, social security insurance, and legal recognition of trade unions are what the Japanese Constitution promises today. In this context, a political party formed in 1922 with a program that only replaced the abolition of the large landlord system with "free confiscation and state ownership of large private estates" could only exist as an illegal political party. That political party was the Japanese Communist Party."
It is an evaluation that the claims that the JCP -- and only the JCP -- put forward at the risk of its life before and during the war have borne fruit in the central content of the Constitution of Japan.
When Miyamoto Kenji passed away in 2007, Kato Shuichi sent his heartfelt condolences, saying that Miyamoto's consistent pacifism "had saved the honor of the Japanese people", which is unforgettable. I believe that these words are an evaluation that applies to the whole of the existence and activities of the JCP. It can be said that the unyielding struggle of the JCP and all participants in the JCP struggle before the war saved the honor of the Japanese people, became a principle of the Japanese Constitution, and an asset for the Japanese people as a whole. (Applause)
Postwar period-- the JCP has set the breaking of U.S. domination over Japan as a strategic task
Two focal points in dispute on the JCP Program (1957-61) and adoption of the 1961 Program
A milestone in the JCP's indomitable postwar progress was the establishment of the programmatic line at the Eighth Party Congress in 1961 -- a line that seeks to achieve democratic revolution first and then advance towards socialist transformation. The JCP debated its Party Program between 1957 and 1961, and adopted its 1961 Program, which formed the basis for the current Program.
There were two focal points in dispute in the Party Program at that time.
One was the issue of whether to position the task of "anti-imperialism and independence" to break U.S. domination over Japan as a strategic task of the revolution. Opponents of the draft program argued that the current various forms subordination to the U.S. are remnants of the occupation period and it would dissolve once Japan's economic development advances since Japan became a sovereign state under the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Therefore, they opposed to set the breaking of U.S. domination over Japan as a strategic task for the revolution.
Another issue was whether the struggle to break down the tyrannical rule of large corporations and business circles -- monopoly capitalism -- should be seen as a democratic revolution of "anti-monopoly" or as a socialist revolution. The argument against the draft program was that the socialist revolution could be the only answer to "anti-monopoly".
After the experience of the historic nationwide struggles against the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty in 1960, and the Mitsui Miike Coal Mine Struggle against the mass dismissal of nominated workers, in 1961 the entire party reached a unanimous conclusion at the Eighth Party Congress. The conclusion was that the immediate strategic task of the JCP should be a democratic revolution of "anti-imperialism and anti-monopoly" -- in the words of the current Program, a democratic revolution that puts an end to Japan's extraordinary subordination to the United States and the tyrannical rule of large corporations and business circles. It was an extremely pioneering and unique line that overturned the national and international "common sense" of the time.
In particular, the fact that the JCP firmly set the overthrow of U.S. domination over Japan as a strategic task of the revolution was the greatest support for the JCP's indomitable unyielding struggle thereafter.
Subsequent history has proved the correctness of the JCP's 1961 Program. With Japan's economic development, rather than being freed of its subordination to the U.S., Japan became more and more deeply integrated into the U.S. global strategy and its subordination became more and more serious. Moves to revive militarism and overseas deployments of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) went hand in hand with Japan's deepening subordination to the U.S.. It is now so clear that it is not necessary to argue that the struggle against monopoly capitalism -- the tyrannical rule of large corporations and business circles -- is not a socialist task but a democratic task.
Okinawa's indomitable struggle -- the pioneering role played by the Okinawa People's Party and Senaga Kamejiro
What I would like to talk about here in particular is the history of Okinawa's indomitable struggle.
First of all, I would like to rejoice with everyone that Governor Tamaki Denny of the "All-Okinawa" group won an overwhelming victory in the Okinawa gubernatorial election held on September 11. (Applause) The JCP strongly demands that the Kishida government take seriously the election results in which the Okinawan people expressed their unwavering determination to "not allow the construction of a new base in Henoko" and "immediately close and remove the U.S. Futenma base."
After the war, Okinawa was placed under the direct rule of the U.S. military, cut off from the mainland Japan by Article 3 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1952, and placed under the harsh colonial-like rule of the U.S. military. Under this violent oppression, defying severe crackdowns by the U.S. military, the Okinawa People's Party, which was founded in July 1947, continued to take the lead in the movement for the reversion of Okinawa to Japan.
Next year, 2023, will mark the 50th anniversary of the Okinawa People's Party joining the JCP. I took this opportunity to re-read the writings of Senaga Kamejiro, who spearheaded the movement to return Okinawa to the homeland as leader of the Okinawa People's Party. He later served as the Vice-Chairperson of the JCP and still enjoys deep respect in Okinawa across party lines: "National Tragedy" (Minzoku-no Higeki), "National Rage" (Minzoku-no Ikari) and "The Heart of Okinawa: Memories of Senaga Kamejiro" (Okinawa-no Kokoro -- Senaga Kamejiro Kaisou-roku).
Senaga Kamejiro is a politician who truly embodies the "indomitable" spirit. Reading his works entirely, I was deeply moved by the unyielding struggle of the Okinawa People's Party and Senaga Kamejiro throughout the period of struggle against oppression in the 1950s, the explosion of "national rage" in the 1960s and early 1970s, and the building of the huge swell for the reversion to Japan.
I strongly felt two points in particular as consistent stances of the Okinawa People's Party and Senaga Kamejiro.
The first point is the strong belief that this current situation will be definitely changed if the people of Okinawa unite as an entire island. In 1950, during Okinawa's first gubernatorial election -- the Gunto (archipelago) gubernatorial election -- Senaga Kamejiro delivered a speech to crowd of more than 40,000 Okinawans at a rally, in which he shouted, "Let us win Okinawa's return to the homeland!," and concluded his speech with the following famous line.
"If I shout alone, it could be heard up to fifty meters away. If all the people gathered here shout in unison, all the citizens of Naha City could hear it. If the 900,000 people of Okinawa shout in unison, they can overcome the stormy waves of the Pacific Ocean and move the government in Washington."
It was a famous speech in which he made a magnanimous appeal for the importance of island-wide solidarity, an appeal that still has fresh vitality today.
The second point is that Senaga said, "The Okinawa People's Party has great pride in its foresight in its history of struggle", stressing that the ability to foresee the future of Japan and Okinawa with a scientific eye provided the party with the foundation for its indomitable struggle.
It is said that at the time of the 1950 gubernatorial election of the archipelago, calling for "Okinawa reversion to Japan" was taboo. Despite such a circumstance, the Okinawa People's Party and Senaga openly championed for the reversion and adopted the slogan, "Let us ride on Mr. Turtle to go back to our homeland". ["kame" in "Senaga Kamejiro" means a turtle in Japanese] Gradually, the reversion to Japan became a shared demand of all people in Okinawa.
Another issue that arose was Article 3 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty which took effect on April 28, 1952. It was a traitorous provision separating Okinawa permanently from Japan. The Okinawa People's Party immediately demanded the cancellation of Article 3, but it did not initially obtain much support from the general public or even from other progressive parties. However, in April 1960, amid a growing nationwide popular movement to oppose the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, the Council for Okinawa Prefecture Reversion, an epoch-making united front organization dubbed Fukkikyo, included the abolition of Article 3 of the San Francisco Treaty in its action program for the first time. Thus, this demand became the firm agreement of the united front.
There was another problem. It was about the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. The Okinawa People's Party opposed the original 1952 Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. As a move to revise the treaty began in 1960 and a popular movement to oppose the revision was growing across Japan in an unprecedented scale, the Okinawa People's Party worked tenaciously to build a prefectural consensus on the abolition of Article 3 of the San Francisco Treaty and the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty concluded in line with provisions of Article 6 of the San Francisco Treaty. The party's effort is based on the recognition that the instruments are the two supporting pillars of the regime subordinate to the U.S..
The Okinawa People's Party and Senaga repeatedly said to the general public, "People in mainland Japan are under quasi-occupation because of the Security Treaty. We are Japanese, too. As fellow Japanese nationals, we are ready to fight for genuine national independence in solidarity with them," and "Even if Okinawa is reverted to Japan, it will still be under occupation as long as the Security Treaty exists. The abolition of the Security Treaty is necessary also for the future of Okinawa."
Initially, in a discussion on the abolition of the security treaty, many members of the Council for Okinawa Prefecture Reversion said, "The treaty has little to do with Okinawa" and "We don't know much about the treaty so we cannot oppose it." As a result, the council's initial agreement is to launch a campaign to make known the true nature of the Security Treaty by encouraging people to learn about the Security Treaty. Over time, however, the Council set a clear goal of the abolition of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
Pro-reversion forces won historic victories in three major elections of Ryukyu [an old name for Okinawa] government chief, legislative council, and Naha City mayor held in November 1968. With this decisive tailwind, the administrative authority was returned in 1972. Struggles by all Okinawans overcame a seemingly-insurmountable legal hurdle and achieved the Okinawa reversion. A proposal the Ryukyu government sent to the Japanese government on the occasion of the reversion stated that Okinawa strongly wants to return to Japan as a peaceful island without military bases and that it has to oppose the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty necessitating U.S. bases in Japan.
The whole process made it clear how important it was for the Okinawa People's Party to have set the goals of "the reversion to Japan", "the abolition of Article 3 of the San Francisco Treaty", and "the abolition of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty" and made them shared goals of the united front. Among the three objectives, the reversion to Japan came to reality and Article 3 of the San Francisco Treaty became a dead letter. Senaga stressed that the Okinawa People's Party's foresight was a great support for Okinawa's indomitable struggle. This teaches us an important lesson which is still relevant today.
The 1961 JCP Program-Mainland learned lessons from Okinawa's struggle and Okinawa received great deal of encouragement
Here is one more thing. I was deeply impressed by the fact that in playing such a pioneering role, the Okinawa People's Party had theoretical sympathy with the 1961 JCP Program. Recalling that time, Senaga said,
"In 1957, the JCP's draft Program was brought in to Okinawa. We read it earnestly and its notion about Japan's ruling regime was striking." "Secretariat Head Miyamoto's report on the draft Program in the JCP 8th Congress severely criticized opportunists who were unable to correctly interpret the rule of U.S. imperialism on mainland Japan. In this regard, liberal space was devoted to discuss Okinawans' struggle. When I read the report at that time, I was impressed by the positive recognition of the struggles by Okinawans including the Okinawa People's Party. And I was very glad that our struggles contributed to the establishment of the programmatic line."
Learning lessons from Okinawa's struggles, the JCP on the mainland established the 1961 Program and Okinawa received a great deal of encouragement from the 1961 Program.
In 1973, the Okinawa People's Party merged into the JCP. The Okinawa People's Party's evolution into a party of scientific socialism was an inevitable development of history based on solidarity in opposing Japan's ruling regime subordinate to the U.S.
In one of his works, Senaga wrote how Okinawans encountered JCP Dietmembers who were dispatched by the party to Okinawa in run up to the island's first national election. According to him, at that time, "JCP viewing meetings" were organized across Okinawa instead of JCP speech meetings. With reactionary forces describing the JCP as something akin to a gang or a demon, many curious people came to the meetings to see what the JCP members look like. Upon getting to know more about the JCP, those people came to think of JCP members as a trustworthy friends.
Let us celebrate a half a century after the historic merger of the two parties.
Today, the "All Okinawa" campaign [to oppose the Japanese government's plan to construct a new U.S. military base in Okinawa] has been steadily developing as a new epoch-making joint struggle involving a wide range of Okinawans regardless of whether they oppose or support the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. The JCP has worked and continues to work to help strengthen this campaign, crossing the boundaries between conservatives and progressives. At the same time, efforts by the JCP demanding the abolition of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty have supported Okinawans' struggles and contributed to the development of the "All Okinawa" campaign.
Everyone, on this occasion, let us renew our determination to keep working together until a peaceful and prosperous Okinawa free from U.S. bases is realized.
Responding to attackers of the Party Program who claim that the party should change its security policy to a realistic one
The programmatic line established in the 1961 Program is highly relevant for today's world. Currently, reactionary forces are taking advantage of [public anxiety about] Russia's invasion against Ukraine to make a case for the strengthening of deterrence of the Japan-U.S. alliance, massive military build-ups, and constitutional amendment. The JCP has squarely took a firm stand against them. I want to stress that the JCP's struggle against the adverse current is supported by the vital power of the programmatic line established 61 years ago.
As a focal point of attacks against the Party Program, some claim that the JCP should change its security policy to a realistic one, urging the party to approve the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. However, I want to ask them what a realistic policy is and what is an unrealistic policy?
The JCP's "diplomatic vision" proposes that Japan should pursue diplomacy making full use of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution in order to build a peace in East Asia. We believe that peace-building efforts through thorough dialogue is the most realistic path toward peace. The reality is that setting off a spiral of military tension is the most dangerous path. Some argue that Japan should develop a capacity to attack enemy bases, but attacking a hostile country will invite devastating counterattacks. As shown by this argument, depending on military capability is the least realistic way for peace.
In order to address the urgent issues of the abolition of the national security legislation and the adverse move to revise Article 9 of the Constitution, the JCP will further develop the joint struggle involving a wide range of citizens regardless of whether they oppose or support the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. In addition, the party will continue with its efforts to build a national consensus for the abolition of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. This is the categorical answer we give to attackers of the Program.
II: Efforts toward self-reform based on scientific socialism
The second characteristic is that, based on scientific socialism, the JCP has always made continuous efforts to reform itself, in terms of its political line and theory as well as in terms of its activities and organization.
There have been and continue to be those who attack the JCP by claiming that it is an "infallible party" - a party that never admits mistakes. However, there is no more untrue and off-the-mark attack than that.
Looking back on the JCP's history, the party made many errors, sometimes serious ones. Retrospectively, some were hard to avoid at the time. However, the JCP has sincerely and squarely confronted past errors based on facts and reason, continuously reforming itself. That is the biggest source of the party's vitality.
The 1950 Question and the establishment of policy line of sovereign independence
How the policy line of sovereign independence was established
The JCP faced its greatest crisis in its 100-year history in 1950 when it was split as Stalin of the Soviet Union and China interfered with the JCP, seeking to impose the policy of armed struggle on it. We call it the "1950 Question". Miyamoto Kenji, who at that time led efforts to oppose unlawful interference and restore the party unity, said in 1988;
"The 1950 Question was the most tragic event in JCP history. We have never made a more serious mistake than that and will never again do so in the future. I cannot help but hope so."
When I read this sentence, I once again acutely realized how serious the event was given that Miyamoto, who experienced fierce oppression under the absolute Tenno (emperor) system, ranked it as "the most tragic event".
Tokuda Kyuichi and Nosaka Sanzo, who created a faction in line with the will of the interferers, in 1950 unilaterally dissolved the Central Committee by taking advantage of the oppression of the occupation force. The faction brought the policy of armed struggle into Japan. At the same time, by overcoming this crisis, the party greatly reformed itself, with its understanding of the world greatly improving.
Some veteran members of the party frankly admitted that until a few years after the end of WWII, they had no doubt about the soundness of what the Soviet Union and China did or said. While fighting back against the violent interference and correcting the mistake of splitting the party, the party completely updated its outlook and established the policy line of sovereign independence, under which the Japanese Communist Party decides on the issues related to the party and movements in Japan on its own and on its sole responsibility and refuses any foreign interference.
How was the policy line of sovereign independence established? The Cominform, an international organization that Stalin created after the end of WWII as a tool to impose Moscow's hegemonistic policies on other countries in the world, openly interfered with the JCP in January 1950 and again in August 1951. Miyamoto Kenji said that by the second round of the interference, his view of the Cominform "inevitably changed drastically". Explaining the conclusion he reached, Miyamoto said:
"My judgment was that the intervention without knowing the actual situation pertaining to JCP internal affairs, which we were trying to resolve day by day, was unjust."
This understanding by Miyamoto influenced the entire party through the process of reviewing the 1950 Question. As the Question was due to the interference by the Soviet Union and other foreign forces, it was impossible to review the Question scientifically without criticizing the interference. Amid an intensive discussion of the review, the Central Committee in its plenum (the 15th CC extension plenum) held in October 1957 unanimously adopted the review document titled, "On the 1950 Question". The document criticized the second round of the Cominform interference as "closing the right path toward unity".
Soon after the CC Plenum, Khrushchev of the Soviet Union said to the JCP delegates visiting the Soviet Union and China, "There is no need to bring up an old and dirty thing again," opposing the reviewing. Defying opposition from Moscow, the JCP went on with the review and firmly established the policy line of sovereign independence in the 7th JCP Congress in 1958 in which the party's organizational unity was fully restored.
The whole picture of the foreign interference in the 1950 Question was obtained as confidential documents of the Soviet Union came to light in 1992-1993 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The scale of the intervention was far larger than what the JCP in the 1950s could imagine. In the 1950s, the JCP was unable to access such information, but managed to firmly establish the policy line of sovereign independence with limited access to facts and without full understanding. Many more facts about the Question are available now than at that time, and it is surprising how accurately the 1957 review document "On the 1950 Question" captures the basic points of the course and responsibility for the party split. I would like to express deep respect to the hard work our predecessors have done.
All-party efforts and struggle defeated interference by two hegemonic powers
Even after the policy line of sovereign independence was established, individual party leaders at that time differed in terms of how consciously they grasp the policy line. The JCP at that time did not fully understand the Soviet Union and China.
The policy line of sovereign independence was refined and grew strong roots in the entire party as the party waged struggles against violent interference by two hegemonic powers-the Soviet Union and the Mao group in China-and gained better understanding. It was a life-and-death battle against the two self-proclaimed socialist nations which used state power to recruit spies and overturn the leadership of the JCP.
The important point was that the Central Committee debated with not just interferers from overseas. There were opponents in this regard in Japan as well. A faction having secret communication with the interferers was created. A pseudo communist organization was established and led the assault on the JCP. Other political parties and media outlets in Japan followed or even supported the interferers. When the JCP started arguments with the Soviet Union, many media outlets labeled the party as "becoming a Chinese party". As the party began arguments with China, they ridiculed the JCP, saying, "The JCP says it is seeking sovereign independence, but isn't it seeking self-isolation instead?" Under such a situation, the entire party worked hard to grasp the central point of the arguments, defeating the interference.
At that time, the JCP official newspaper "Akahata" often carried long opinion articles on international issues. The September 2, 1964 issue of "Akahata" ran a Reply Letter to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which comprehensively refuted the Soviet interference. The entire space from page 1 to page 8 was spent to the Reply Letter. Page 9, 10, and part of page 11 were spent to letters from the Soviet Union. Ordinary articles used the rest of page 11. Page 12 was for TV and radio schedules. In addition, the reply letter was printed without any subheadings, leaving no space.
The April 29, 1967 issue of Akahata ran a long opinion article titled, "The Slander and Provocation by Ultra-Left Opportunists--Crushing Groundless Attacks against the Party Program by Blind Followers of Foreign Forces", which completely refuted the armed revolution theory, the core issue of China's interference. The front page of this Akahata issue carried ordinary articles, but pages 2 to 7 were spent to the five-and-a-half-page article.
Some may wonder how JCP members at that time read "the Reply Letter" and other articles of length. Regarding this point, JCP Vice Chair Hamano Tadao, who was then a full-time staffmember of the JCP Shiga Prefectural Committee, told me:
"At that time, party members in provincial areas had strong trust in the Soviet Union and China, viewing them as the two countries that accomplished revolutions. So, when the controversy began, they were very anxious about what would happen next. Therefore, when "the reply letter" and other articles were issued by the Central Committee, I did not feel right until finishing reading the documents. I read through them avidly because it was a matter of life or death for me as a JCP member. I and other members in the party organization discussed those documents repeatedly to deepen our understanding of them and became even more determined to maintain our trust in the Central Committee. No one in the party organization complained about the length of the reply letter and other documents."
Thanks to efforts and struggles by our predecessors at that time, the JCP defeated the interferers.
Each of the disputes with the Soviet Union and China ended with historic settlements. The JCP is the only political party in the world that successfully pushed the communist parties in the two major powers to express their reflections on their intervention. It is also the world's only party that in 1991 "gladly" welcomed the dissolution of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, describing it as an end to the colossal historical evil, great-power chauvinism and hegemonism
That was not just a historic achievement just the JCP can take pride in. Interfering with the JCP was also an attack on the independence of public movements in Japan, violation of Japan's sovereignty, and interference in the internal affairs of Japan. It is not too much to say that it was of national importance to have squarely fought against and defeated the interference. (Applause)
Theoretical and political developments of the programmatic line based on the policy line of sovereign independence
For more than 60 years, the JCP has developed its programmatic line theoretically and politically, building on the policy line of sovereign independence. The party made a number of breakthroughs, overturning what was thought to be internationally established-theories.
I want to stress that such breakthroughs were achieved through waging practical struggles. Among many theoretical and political developments achieved, I will talk about four of them that are still relevant today. In particular, I will explain in detail how those developments were gained.
The development of the theory on U.S. imperialism-through life-and-death struggle with Soviet hegemonism
The first one is the development in the theory of U.S. imperialism
In 1963-4, the Soviet Union launched another round of interference. Khrushchev, in line with his policy of U.S.-Soviet cooperation, started to urge Japanese activists to support the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty concluded in August 1963 between the United States, Soviet Union, and Britain, which was in reality a treaty to legalize underground nuclear tests.
In a bid to justify the U.S.-Soviet cooperation policy, Moscow claimed that as the Soviet Union now possesses the most powerful nuclear arsenal in the world, the U.S. imperialists have "lost the material basis for conducting their position-of-strength policy" and are compelled to agree to peaceful policies. It was an absurd theory painting a rosy picture of imperialism.
In response, the JCP in the 7th CC Plenum (the 8th Congress) held in October 1963 revealed that what was seen as the U.S.-Soviet cooperation did not mean that the U.S. assumed peaceful policies. The U.S., the JCP observed, intended to defeat smaller would-be-socialist countries and national liberation movements individually while avoiding confrontation with the Soviet Union and other major powers. Based on this analysis, the JCP named the U.S. new strategy as the "defeat enemy one-by-one policy".
Such an analysis was not found anywhere else in the world at that time. This conclusion was drawn from careful examination of diplomatic and military documents and what the U.S. actually had done. It was proven correct the next year, 1964, when the U.S. began its full-fledged invasion of Vietnam. This analysis greatly helped popular movements opposing the war of aggression.
Since then, the JCP has maintained and developed its stance of understanding the U.S. policy objectives based on examination of its policies and activities.
When the JCP amended the Program in its 23rd Congress in 2004, the party analyzed U.S. policies and activities and made it clear that the U.S. is an imperialist power without doubt, but it should not be viewed in a fixed manner, in other words, the possibility of changes in its aggressive policies and activities cannot be ruled out.
After that, the JCP further developed its theory about the U.S. which sees the country from multiple perspectives, not only taking into account the possibility of U.S. policy changes in the future, but also rejecting the notion that the U.S. does nothing but evil in present time.
In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama declared in a speech in Prague that the U.S. will set a national goal of achieving a "world without nuclear weapons". After hearing this speech, I felt that a new and important step was taken. So, I sent a letter to President Obama, "heartily welcoming" this declaration and requesting him to "initiate international negotiations for the conclusion of an international treaty for the abolition of nuclear weapons". And I received a reply letter. Although Obama's statement was later abandoned, it was important for the JCP to have responded to his speech in this way. Whenever such a positive change occurs, we will respond to it in a flexible manner.
The flexible theory of the U.S. is still relevant today, being incorporated into the JCP Program when it was amended in 2020 in the 28th Congress.
Thus, the JCP theory of U.S. imperialism, which views the U.S. based on its actual policies and actions, was formed in the life-and-death struggle against Soviet hegemony, and has been developed in response to the development of events. I would like to emphasize this point.
How the JCP developed its policy line of "revolution through gaining parliamentary majority"
The second was the policy line of revolution through gaining a parliamentary majority, which aims to promote social reforms peacefully by obtaining majority support of people in elections.
The most serious mistake stemming from the 1950 Question was that the faction splitting the party sought to impose an armed struggle policy on the entire party at the call of the interferers. Through the process of establishing the 1961 Program, the JCP examined the issue in detail and in conclusion categorically rejected the armed struggle policy. In addition, the 1961 Program stated that the basic direction of Japan's revolution is to peacefully promote social changes by gaining a parliamentary majority.
I did some fresh research on how the JCP at that time got there.
The important milestone was the June 1956 CC Plenum (6th National Conference, 7th CC Plenum). The Plenum adopted a resolution titled, "On a few problems regarding liberation struggles for independence and democracy", which states that in a number of countries including Japan, it is now possible to carry out a revolution through activities in parliament. The resolution also denied the 1951 Document, on which the faction's armed struggle policy was based, saying that the Document was not applicable to the current situations in Japan.
Following the adoption of the resolution, discussions on a party program officially began. After the 7th Party Congress in 1958, the programmatic line was established in the 8th Conference in 1961, and the 1961 Program explicitly stated that the party will pursue a revolution through obtaining a parliamentary majority. As such, the denial of the armed struggle policy was the starting point of the establishment of the 1961 Program.
The JCP further developed the policy line as it fought against the Chinese interference starting in 1966, in which the Mao group sought to impose an armed struggle policy on Japan. The Mao group of China, citing "The State and Revolution" written by Lenin in 1917, criticized the JCP's policy of seeking a revolution through gaining a parliamentary majority, saying that the JCP is enthusiastic particularly about election campaigning. They interfered with the JCP in order to impose the armed struggle policy. The JCP published the "April 29 article" and other documents to counterattack, revealing that to describe Marx's theory of revolution as all about armed struggle is an act of historical distortion. The JCP also made it clear that the JCP's policy of revolution through parliamentary majority is in line with the mainstream of the theory of revolution developed by Marx and Engels.
The theoretical examination was greatly refined in "Lenin and Das Kapital" in 1997-2001, a seven-volume book by Fuwa Tetsuzo, who served as the JCP Executive Committee Chair and later Central Committee Chairperson while writing the book. Fuwa did a thorough critique of Lenin's "The State and Revolution" and showed that the work by Lenin made a serious mistake in regard to the theories of states and revolutions by completely failing to take into account the possibility of a revolution through parliamentary majority, which Marx and Engels pursued and discussed for their entire lives. Although the book was written entirely by Fuwa, a part of the book regarding Lenin's "The State and Revolution" was confirmed at JCP Standing Executive Committee meetings because of its special significance.
Thus, the JCP's programmatic line was formed through all-out efforts to deny and defeat the armed struggle theory. I want to stress that the armed struggle theory has no room in the party's policies, no matter how paranoically the Public Security Investigation Agency attempts to prove otherwise. (Applause)
The development of the theory of the world through struggles and criticism against China's hegemonism
The third was a huge development in the theory of the world in the JCP Program.
The world theory of the 1961 Program was the "two camps" view of the world, which was the internationally-accepted "settled theory" at that time. According to the theory, one side was the "imperialist camp" led by the U.S. which pursued a policy of war and aggression. And the other was the "anti-imperialist camp," which fought for peace, independence, and social progress. That was the way the 1961 Program saw the world. The worldview was, at a first glance, easy to understand, but contained serious flaws.
In the 2004 revision to the JCP Program and the 2020 amendments to the Program, the JCP abandoned this schematic view and formulated a new world theory that envisages a 21st century world based on the historical developments achieved in the 20th century. The current Program notes, "The structural changes in the world which took place in the 20th century, i.e., the collapse of the outright colonial system and the creation of more than one hundred sovereign nations, has begun to demonstrate its vital power promoting peace and social progress in the 21st century".
I want to emphasize that this new world theory was based on not just theoretical contemplation but also struggles and criticism against hegemonism. The biggest flaw of the "two camp" theory was that the anti-imperialist camp included the great evil of Soviet hegemonism. Through life-and-death struggles against Soviet hegemonism as well as criticism against China's hegemonism and human rights violations, which recently became evident, the JCP got rid of the schematic view and established a new world theory observing the world as it is realistically and dynamically.
JCP diplomacy and the world theory-further developments in relationships with leftist and progressive parties in developed capitalist countries
Another point I want to stress is that the JCP's new world view was enriched through experiences of the party's diplomatic activities which went full swing in 1999.
As a political party of the world's only A-bombed country, the JCP has worked hard to realize a world free from nuclear weapons, taking part in U.N. conferences on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and Review Conferences of the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty. The JCP repeatedly sent a diplomatic mission to Southeast Asian nations to see firsthand the dynamic movements for peace there and learn its lessons, proposing a diplomatic vision for peace in East Asia.
By engaging in these activities, the JCP keenly realized that the world is no longer controlled by a handful of superpowers and that all countries in the world and civil society can now play a role in international politics. The JCP Program's worldview is based on and enriched by actual experiences of the party's diplomatic activities.
Here is a new direction the JCP's diplomacy will take. The JCP will forge and develop relationships and cooperation with left wing and progressive political parties in developed capitalist nations. Currently, some European left wing and progressive parties that have political influence and put up a good fight in recent national elections appear to be able to work together with us on issues such as efforts to create a world without military alliances and a world free from nuclear weapons.
The JCP wants to strengthen its relationship and cooperation with these political parties on issues of international solidarity while putting aside differences of opinion on theoretical issues. These parties and the JCP, both of which function in developed capitalist countries, need to share experiences, nurture friendships, and work together on issues of mutual concern. The JCP plans to develop its diplomatic ties in this way. (Applause)
The theory of socialism and capitalism-How epoch-making theoretical development was achieved
The fourth point was that the JCP greatly developed the theory of socialism and communism.
The theory of socialism and communism in the 1961 Program was mainly about the distribution of products, which was at that time an internationally accepted theory. The theory explained that in the phase of a socialist society, the principle of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution" is applied and in the phase of a communist society, the principle of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" is applied. This was a fixed theory based on Lenin's "The State and Revolution". Since I was a student, I have not been sure what "to each according to his needs" exactly means. I used to debate with fellows, saying, "Does it mean a society in which everyone can eat as much delicious food as they want?" But, what if the primary goal of an ideal society were the abundance of goods distributed throughout the society beyond human desire? It would be a very sad view that fails to capture the grand historical significance of socialism and communism-the realization of freedom and liberation of mankind.
In 2004, when amending the Program, the JCP entirely reviewed these provisions. While firmly setting the socialization of means of production at the cornerstone of the socialist transformation, the JCP discovered and included in the Program the true brilliance of Marx's theory of a future society, a society where all members have enough free time so that they are able to freely develop their capabilities and interests fully.
Then, how did the JCP achieve such epoch-making theoretical developments? In the June 2003 CC Plenum (the 22nd Congress, 7th CC Plenum), explaining the proposal on the Program revision, the then JCP Chairperson Fuwa Tetsuzo described the developments from two points of views.
First, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the JCP examined the actual situation facing the Soviet society and reached the conclusion that it was an oppressive society having nothing to do with socialism both in terms of its international relations and domestic policies.
Second, in parallel with the examination, the JCP made efforts to thoroughly review the theory of a future society under scientific socialism. The Soviet society had nothing to do with socialism. Then, what is genuine socialism? In the efforts to tackle this question, the JCP critically examined Lenin's "The State and Revolution", which was the basis of the former "fixed theory," and in detailed study of "Das Kapital" and its drafts, the JCP discovered Marx's original theory of a future society and incorporated its basic points into the 2004 Program. In this way, the thorough criticism of the Soviet system led to the rich development of Marx's theory of a future society.
In addition, when amending the Program in 2020, the JCP incorporated the thesis, "Social changes in a developed capitalist country are the high road to socialism or communism", based on the review of the history after the Russian Revolution. It revealed a grand vision of a future society that inherits and further develops advanced production capacity, systems to socially control and manage the economy, rules to protect people's rights and livelihoods, and institutions of freedom and democracy, and embrace diversity of humankind.
In today's 21st century world, capitalism has produced contradictions on a global scale, including growing poverty, widening inequality, and the deepening climate crisis, and various efforts are being made to overcome the present system [of capitalism]. Under this situation, the JCP Program's theory of a future society revived the original brilliance and appeal of scientific socialism's future society theory. In this regard, I believe, the JCP theory is epoch-making from an international point of view as well. (Applause)
The "renaissance" of scientific socialism, achievements by the all-party struggle against hegemonism
Fuwa Tetsuzo, who played a big role in achieving these theoretical and political developments, at a meeting commemorating the 90th anniversary of the JCP foundation said that the JCP's theoretical developments in the last 50 years "have wiped out the medieval shadow in the Stalin era, revived the true nature of the theory, and make full use of it in today's world. I think that this is an activity to realize the renaissance of scientific socialism." I, too, want to state with confidence that this deserves to be called a renaissance, which is materialized in the current Program.
I want to reiterate again that these theoretical and political achievements were won by all the JCP members who fought against all kinds of hegemonism from the position of sovereign independence. (Applause)
Party activities and organizational structure-development of the principle of democracy and unity of action
Formed and developed through the JCP's historical experiences
As the last topic concerning the JCP's characteristic of self-reform, I would like to explain how the JCP has continuously reformed itself in terms of its activities and organizational structure.
In this regard, too, a major self-reform was made through the review of the 1950 Question. Why did interference from the Soviet Union and China lead to the party split? One of the major reasons was that there was an anti-democratic temperament in the party at that time. In particular, the then Secretary General Tokuda Kyuichi dominated the Central Committee and made arbitrary decisions on a wide range of issues, including personnel issues, excluding those who did not follow his line. Democratic and collective discussions were not guaranteed. That situation was one of the main causes of the party split.
Based on this review, the JCP learned the lesson that it is most important to keep and develop the principles of democracy and unity of action: to maintain the unity of the party under any circumstances, especially of the Central Committee, to prioritize collective management by doing away with individualism, to cherish a democratic atmosphere in the party, and to never tolerate factionalism undermining the discipline.
The establishment of the organizational principle of democracy and unity of action enabled the party to establish the 1961 Program after five-year-long intensive democratic discussions in the party as well as to defeat the interference by the Soviet Union and the Mao group of China, whose pawns in Japan set up a faction in the JCP.
I want to stress that the principle of democracy and unity of action was not imported from a foreign country, but built and developed from the party's experiences in the past.
The 2000 amendment to the Party Constitution further developed the democratic nature of the party organization and management
In addition, the JCP in its 22nd Congress in 2000 amended its Constitution to further develop the democratic nature of the party organization and management in line with the new developments in the relationship between the JCP and the Japanese society.
In the Constitutional revision, the provision of "vanguard party" was deleted because the word "vanguard" itself could easily be misunderstood, while firmly maintaining the spirit the word represented, that is, an indomitable determination to play a progressive role.
Until then, the former Constitution used the expression "higher/lower party bodies" to describe the relationship between party organizations. However, there is no hierarchy among party bodies from the branch level to the Central Committee. There are different roles to play in achieving common goals. Based on this recognition, the expression "higher/lower" was removed from the Constitution as much as possible.
Until then, our principle was also called "democratic centralization of power", but this expression was completely removed. A report on the draft Constitutional amendment to the 22nd Congress made it clear what the principle of democracy and unity of action means, stating, "Democracy means inner-party democracy. Unity of action means the concentration of power of a unified party. Both are necessary requirements for a unified political party in the modern age."
The revision of the Party Constitution is another example of major self-reform in party organization and activities. In line with the provisions and spirit of the revised Constitution, the party has developed its activities.
Responding to criticism against our party principle-look at how the Party Congress is held
Since a half a century ago, there have been those who criticize the JCP for having democracy and unity of action as an organizational principle, claiming that the party is "top-down" and "closed" and that the principle should be abandoned. I want those people to look at how the JCP holds its Congress, a party body that plays a key role for the party's democracy and unity.
In the case of the 28th Congress held in 2020, draft resolutions were published two and a half months before the Congress and all branches, district committees, and prefectural committees held meetings to thoroughly discuss the documents and around 1,800 opinions and proposals by members were submitted in total. Letters of opinion from individuals were carried in special issues of Akahata and some of them appeared to be minority opinions which otherwise would not been taken up in the mainstream of discussions as they are difficult to win support in party meetings. Each of the opinions was carefully reviewed and the draft resolutions were amended and improved before being adopted.
Among the opinions submitted as part of the all-party discussion, regarding the revision to include gender equality in the Program, one proposed that the party should officially acknowledge a past mistake of stigmatizing homosexuality as a form of sexual perversion in opinion articles carried in Akahata in the 1970s. This opinion was mutually considered and the concluding remarks of the Congress expressed remorse for the stigmatization, stating, "It was a reflection of the party's position at that time, but the Congress declares that it was a mistake. "
The JCP corrects mistakes based on facts even if they were made nearly half a century ago. This is the party's main principle.
I must say the attackers of our party principle have a dogmatic bias, refusing to see these realities of the JCP's democratic management and its self-reform capability.
By the way, how does the Liberal Democratic Party hold its congress? This year's congress took place on March 13, with 1,200 people participating. It opened at 10 am and closed at 12 pm. According to the program of the congress, the two-hour ceremony included the national anthem, party anthem, guest speeches, reports of party affairs, campaigning plans, revisions on party rules, commendation of excellent party members, the president's speech, a special program of karate performance, introduction of planned candidates for the House of Councilors election, and cheers to show determination to win. Surprisingly, the program lacked a question and answer session and discussions on the reports and proposals. Is this a liberal and democratic party?
This comparison makes it clear again that the party with the principle of democracy and unity of action exerts utmost efforts at inner-party democratic discussions more than anything. (Applause)
I have explained the JCP history from the angle of self-reform and we will continue to take this stance. I am convinced that the JCP can overcome any difficulties if it keeps making sincere and serious efforts for self-reform on the basis of scientific socialism and the Program. (Applause)
III: Maintaining stance of collaborating with people in pursuing united front to change politics
The third characteristic is that the JCP has maintained its stance of collaborating with the people in pursuit of a united front to change politics.
How do we grasp the 60 years since the establishment of the 1961 Program? It cannot be said that once an accurate political course is set, we can proceed straight ahead. The last 60 years have been a series of fierce battles with the ruling power, which can be called the "dialectic of political confrontation".
During these years, there were three periods in which the JCP made major strides. Each time, the ruling forces responded with anti-communist campaigns and reactionary political realignments. Our party paved the way by confronting and overcoming each of these countermoves. We consistently developed the position of the 1961 Program, which is to change politics through a united front with the people, under any difficulties and in accordance with new conditions. I would like to look at the last 60 years as a living history of the political battles.
Advance from late 1960s to 1970s - anti-communist campaign and "Socialist Party of Japan-Komei Agreement"
JCP becoming second largest opposition party - reactionary offensive by ruling forces with growing sense of crisis
The first period of the party advance was from the late 1960s to the 1970s. In general elections, the JCP won 14 seats in December 1969 and then 39 seats in 1972 with 5.64 million votes, becoming the second largest opposition party. It is important to note that this breakthrough was achieved on the solid foundation of the dramatic development of party building that had persisted during the 1960s. The advance was therefore very robust and lasted until the late 1970s although it was not without slowdowns and setbacks due to the ruling force's countermoves. The main characteristic of the first electoral advance is that it was built on the solid foundation of an advance in party building efforts.
The breakthrough caught the ruling forces off guard. They were not prepared for this because they assumed that the JCP had suffered a devastating blow with the "1950 Question" and had no chance for revival. Many media outlets featured the JCP with almost no hesitation, welcoming the emergence of a new party in the political arena. The Weekly Sankei magazine even published an extra issue featuring the JCP from its beginning to end.
Progressive local governments spread throughout the country, with 43% of Japan's population living in such municipalities at the highest point. "Collusive politics" in the Diet, where it was rumored that Diet matters are determined in unofficial meetings at luxury restaurants in the Akasaka entertainment district, was completely transformed. Forming a progressive united front in national politics was placed on the agenda.
Having a sense of crisis in this radical change, the ruling forces established a full-scale reactionary offensive. They launched an anti-communist campaign, alleging that the Communist Party was a party of violence and dictatorship. In 1976, anti-communist disinformation attacks were carried out in the Diet, and Bungeishunju magazine started running anti-communist special features. We in response made a major counterattack.
Conducting such a major anti-communist campaign was not enough to hold us down. What followed was a massive reactionary political realignment. The "SPJ-Komei Agreement" made in January 1980, in which the Socialist Party of Japan and the Komei Party agreed to accept the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and to not include the JCP in any potential future coalition, marked a milestone in the process. It was an agreement to leave the JCP out of picture if the SPJ and the Komei Party form a coalition government in the future, but in reality, the JCP was excluded in all areas, including the operation of the Diet. The "wall" isolating the JCP was built, and the "all-are-ruling-parties system "excluding the JCP was created.
I was elected the post of Secretariat Head in 1990.At that time, the JCP was not invited to inter-party meetings in the Diet, including secretary general meetings and Diet affairs committee chair meetings. The ruling and opposition parties decided Diet affairs in closed-door discussions in the absence of the JCP. I remember an unfair "wall" was built in the Diet to marginalize the JCP.
New challenge to collaborate with nonpartisan people and new reactionary strategy of "LDP or non-LDP"
Undaunted by this major backlash, the JCP embarked on a new united front movement in collaboration with nonpartisan people.
Immediately after the "SPJ-Komei Agreement," the JCP at its 15th Congress in February 1980 called for national and local organizations for progressive unity to be established, and in 1981 the National Forum for Peace, Democracy and Progressive Unity (Kakushinkon) was founded. This was a courageous decision, unprecedented in the world, based on the united front principle of working together on common issues, not on party combination.
When the 15th Congress called for this policy, foreign guests to the Congress asked many questions such as "Does the JCP really think it is possible to form a united front without social democratic parties?" After hearing the explanations, some of them said, "I see. But such a policy decision must have needed tremendous courage." With gratitude to all those Kakushinkon activists who have worked side by side with the JCP for the past 40 years, I would like to emphasize that launching the Kakushinkon movement at that time truly had a historical significance with an eye to the future.
After nearly a decade of the "all-are-ruling-parties system," plutocracy resurfaced with a new version of "collusive politics." In 1989, we began to see changes in local politics throughout the country. In gubernatorial and mayoral elections, independent candidates backed solely by the JCP won more than 40% of the votes against incumbent candidates, which was described by the media as a sign of a "tectonic shift." However, with the Tiananmen Square incident in China in June 1989 and the surfacing of the collapse of regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, such a "tectonic shift" did not become a reality.
The series of events made the ruling power realize that a new reactionary strategy was needed to replace the "all-are-ruling-parties system." The system seemed strong, but it was fragile in reality: once the system collapses, the JCP would be the only party to receive support from those discontent with it.
The new reactionary strategy was to force the introduction of a single-seat constituency system and create a conservative "two-party system" while bringing media outlets over to their side.
In the 1993 general election, new conservative parties emerged and formed a "non-LDP coalition" with the Socialist Party, Democratic Socialist Party, and the Komei Party in a major campaign to force voters to choose "the LDP or the non-LDP."
That was the first general election in which I ran for a Diet seat while leading the party's campaign efforts as Secretariat Head. When I appeared in an interview on NHK during the campaign, the host first asked me, "The JCP will be out of the loop, won't it?" I remember answering it by saying, "What is inside the loop is the problem. It is the old, corrupt politics that is inside. We will never go into such a dirty loop even if we are asked to." It was a tough battle fought in a strong adverse wind as if we were trying to go up a down escalator.
The general election brought about the Hosokawa administration, but the hastily-prepared "non-LDP coalition" soon self-destructed. Expectations grew for the JCP which stuck to its principles, and a new phase opened up. At that time, I keenly realized once again that we were right to have stayed away from the loop.
Advance in late 1990s - anti-communist conspiracy and "choosing from two major parties"
Largest advance in party's history - fight with biggest and worst adverse wind
The second advance was made in the late 1990s. In the 1996 general election, the JCP obtained 7.27 million votes and 26 seats. In the 1998 House of Councilors election, it accomplished enormous progress, winning 8.2 million votes and 15 seats.
The peak was the highest in the party's history, but we also realized a huge task facing us: As the party's strength did not keep pace with the rapid growth of its political influence, it was unable to make organizational connections with a wide range of people who newly supported it.
The ruling power resorted to another anti-communist campaign, this time in a conspirational way. In the general election in 2000, a large number of unidentified anti-communist flyers were distributed. I remember the public atmosphere rapidly cooled down at the final stage of the election campaign period.
This was followed by a full-scale reactionary political realignment. It was to impose "the choice of a governing party from the two major parties": the Liberal Democratic Party or the Democratic Party of Japan. This realignment to drive the JCP out as a voters' choice worked as the biggest and worst adverse wind we have experienced.
During this period, the votes we received dropped to 3 million-4 million with our Diet seats decreasing to 8-9 in the House of Representatives and 6 in the House of Councilors. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to obtain positive results in national elections. But we analyzed the results of each election based on the Program, learned lessons, and united to fight the next battle.
Kakushinkon movement and development of "single-issue joint struggle" - foundation for joint struggle between citizens and opposition parties
Even during the most difficult period, we continued our efforts and explorations to develop a united front.
The Kakushinkon movement persistently continued at the grassroots level. Some social democrats who courageously took the position of developing a united front even under the "SPJ-Komei Agreement" played important roles in the movement, and they were joined by a prominent figure in the economic circles.
Shinagawa Masaji, permanent director of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, became a national coordinator of Kakushinkon during that time. Shinagawa, with his hellish experience of hand-to-hand combat in the former Japanese Army, had a strong passion for defending Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. With gratitude for him, I remember Shinagawa said, "In a time of clash when the question of war or peace is at stake, we already have an organization called Kakushinkon. I am grateful that we have Kakushinkon today.
Collaboration on each issue, which we called "single-issue joint struggle," developed in various fields. At the annual rally for defending the Constitution, the leaders of the JCP and the Social Democratic Party started in 2001 to appeal side by side. In 2004, nine distinguished figures from various fields initiated the creation of the "Article 9 Association". This movement has spread to every corner of the country, playing an important role in blocking the move to adversely revise the Constitution.
The joint struggle efforts, which were tenaciously continued at the grassroots during this difficult period, became the foundation for the establishment of the joint struggle between citizens and opposition parties. I would like to emphasize this point with gratitude to all those who supported the joint struggle during this period. (Applause)
Advance in mid-2010s - increase in joint struggles between citizens and opposition parties
Utilizing strides demand "democratic political reform based on public opinion"
The third party advance was made during the mid-2010s. When the Democratic Party of Japan became the ruling party in 2009, our initial response was to agree with what was good, oppose what was bad, and offer constructive proposals. However, the DPJ government soon fell into the same position as the LDP on the issues of U.S. base construction plan in Okinawa's Henoko district, raising the consumption tax, and supporting nuclear power generation, and ended in failure.
As the imposition of the "choice of a governing party from "the LDP or the DPJ" collapsed, new expectations grew for the JCP, which had been consistent in its commitment to peace and livelihood issues. We obtained 17 seats in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election in June 2013, up from the pre-election strength of 8. Shortly after that, we won 5.15 million votes and 8 seats in the July 2013 Upper House election and 6.06 million votes and 21 seats in the 2014 general election. In the 2016 Upper House election, we received 6.02 million votes and doubled the seats up for the election to six.
The breakthrough after this difficult period was a great joy for the entire party. But again, the party's strength was not commensurate with this breakthrough. We reassessed it as "a breakthrough that exceeded our strength" and continued to struggle throughout the country with a strong determination to fill this gap.
Gaining strength from this breakthrough, we embarked on an unprecedented challenge. In September 2015, the Abe administration forcibly enacted the security legislation, which is prohibited in the Constitution, and a nationwide civil movement dramatically developed against this outrageous move. Pushed by the national movement, we took on a new challenge unprecedented in the party's history: to develop a joint struggle between citizens and opposition parties.
The party's breakthroughs had been held back by ruling forces' reactionary political realignments. The endeavor to develop a joint struggle between citizens and opposition parties was to utilize the strides of the JCP as a force to take the proactive initiative in achieving a "democratic political reform based on public demand."
Fierce attacks against the joint struggle and the JCP, and the national struggle to push back countercurrent
The ruling forces were therefore extremely fierce in their attacks. In the 2017 general election, a sudden and massive countercurrent was started to divide the joint struggle of opposition parties. The Democratic Party (Minshinto), the largest opposition party at that time, was merged into the Hope Party and dismantled overnight. A complete dismantling of the largest opposition party had never happened in Japan's politics before. The JCP made an all-out effort to rebuild the joint struggle during this upheaval.
While the effort brought about an important outcome that maintained light on the importance of joint struggle, the number of JCP seats held dropped to 12. However, following new progress in the joint struggle in the Diet, we for the first time in our history tried to achieve a change in government in the 2021 general election when the opposition parties confirmed our common policies and reached an agreement for a coalition government. Even more intense attacks against the joint struggle and the JCP were then made. Although our joint struggle obtained solid results, the party's seats held fell back to 10.
The ruling forces' desperate attacks against the opposition parties' joint struggle and the JCP in the two general elections made us realize how much they were afraid of the joint struggle.
In the run-up to the House of Councilors election in July this year, such attacks intensified further. With a sense of crisis, the ruling forces tried to crush the joint struggle, determined to block at any cost their worst nightmare-- the creation of a coalition government which includes the JCP.
Party members, supporters' association members, and supporters throughout the country courageously fought against the double major countercurrents: attacks against the opposition parties' joint struggle and the JCP; and the attempt to propagate anti-communist ideas, adversely revise the Constitution, and conduct massive military expansion by taking advantage of the war in Ukraine. The 6th JCP Central Committee Plenum in August this year summarized the results of the Upper House election as "a cross section in the process of pushing back the double major countercurrents."
This fight is ongoing. Let us achieve a major counter offensive in the next round of the battle. (Applause)
Overcome difficulties and succeed joint struggle as party holding high united front in Program
Was it right for us to decide 7 years ago to pursue the joint struggle between citizens and opposition parties?
We are convinced that it was our due responsibility as a party of reform to step onto the path of joint struggle with the cause of overcoming the emergency situation in which the Abe administration attempted to destroy constitutionalism, democracy, and pacifism.
We believe that the joint struggle has created new friends and bonds of trust throughout the country that live on today and will continue into the future. We also believe that this decision undoubtedly changed how the public view the JCP and helped to introduce new expectations.
The only way to change Japan's politics is through the joint struggle. To initiate movements in all fields to respond to the people's wishes, to build a bigger and stronger Japanese Communist Party, and to win its political strides are the greatest driving force for rebuilding the joint struggle.
As a party that holds high the united front in its Program, let us overcome any difficulties and strive to make this path a success. (Applause)
Each step of anti-communist and reactionary attempts widens contradictions and makes ruling system fragile and weak
The JCP is not the only entity that suffered, the general public were greatest victims
In summarizing the "dialectic of political confrontation" over the last 60 years, what I would like to emphasize is that the anti-communist campaigns and reactionary political realignments were integral to establishing policies which led to destroying people's livelihood and endangering peace. It was not only the JCP that suffered. The people were the greatest victims.
In the 1980s and 1990s, politics centering on extraordinary subordination to the U.S. and business circles became rampant under the "all-are-ruling-parties system." In the economic field, under the name of "administrative reform" proposed by the Ad Hock Commission on Administrative Reform, neoliberal policies began to be introduced with the privatization of the public sector, including the Japanese National Railways, and cuts in social security services. In the diplomacy and security field, the focus until the 1970s was to enable U.S. military bases in Japan to be used for U.S. wars abroad. In the early 1980s, the focus shifted to how to use Japan's military force in the confrontation with the Soviet Union: increasing joint military operations by the U.S. forces and Japan's Self-Defense Forces.
In the 2000s, reckless neoliberal policies became more prominent. In the name of "structural reform," natural increases in social security spending were cut and labor laws were forcibly deregulated. Amid increasing poverty and social disparities, mass dismissals of temporary workers took place following the Lehman Shock in 2008, and the "tent villages" for laid-off workers became a major social problem. It was also this period when overseas deployments of the SDF began in earnest, such as to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Pre-dawn" period of new politics - it becomes reality with JCP advance
Since the 2010s, contradictions have become even more serious because of the rampage of neoliberalism and the building of a nation capable of waging war.
How much have the 10 years of the Abe, Suga, and Kishida administrations worsened Japan's politics, economy, and society? The "Abenomics" economic policy has made poverty and social disparities even more pronounced. Japan became a country where wages do not rise, which is exceptional in the world. Constitutionalism, democracy, and pacifism have continued to be weakened by the forcible enactment of the security legislation and other measures. With the "Moritomo Gakuen", "Kake Gakuen", and the cherry blossom-viewing party scandals, the corrupt and cozy relations between the Unification Church and the LDP, the forcible holding of a "state funeral" for former Prime Minister Abe in violation of the Constitution, political morals have become decadent to the extreme.
Each step of the anti-communist and reactionary attempts has widened the contradiction between the LDP and the people, making the impasse more serious. The contradiction with the people increases with each attempt, making LDP control over the public more fragile and weaker.
Therefore, from a broad and objective viewpoint, it is no exaggeration to say that Japan is now in the "pre-dawn" period of a new era of politics.
The "dawn" of society will not come naturally. I would like to stress that the "dawn" will become a reality only when the JCP, which in its Program calls for the present policies in abnormal favor of the U.S. and business circles to be fundamentally changed, makes a great stride. (Applause)
Building bigger and stronger JCP - how to grasp party's historical development and outlook
Recalling the original intention of 1960s and pursuing the development in line with the principle of "building a bigger and stronger party to win elections"
The biggest force and guarantee for realizing this is to build a bigger and stronger JCP.
Many hurdles, including the wall to isolate the JCP ever since the "SPJ-Komei Agreement" and anti-communist attacks taking advantage of the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries, have been major obstacles to the progress of party building. Despite the continued efforts of the whole party, we have not been able to shift the prolonged retreat into progress.
Currently, we have about 260,000 party members and about 900,000 Akahata subscribers. We have to frankly admit that our party's present strength is at the low level of 1965-1966.
I sincerely appeal to you to face up to this fact and make a party building effort based on our original intention of the 1960s, when we made progress in party building following the establishment of the 1961 Program. The success of party building in the 1960s was due to the unyielding struggles of our predecessors who engaged in activities that had never been done before in our history: to set numerical targets and deadlines to tackle the tasks in a purposeful and systematic manner.
The dramatic development of party building in the 1960s made the foundation for the first breakthrough in the 1970s. Under the new situation today, let us all work together to create the kind of development we made in the 1960s and 1970s, in which building a bigger and stronger party led to victories in elections and to building an even bigger and stronger party. (Applause)
Party's historical development stage and objective conditions - with confidence in four major changes
Is it possible? I would like to emphasize that there are enormous changes in the present stage of the party's historical development and objective conditions surrounding the party compared to the mid-1960s.
The first one is the development of the programmatic line. As I have already said, we have accomplished theoretical achievements which make full use of the original vitality and attractiveness of scientific socialism based on the 1961 Program. The fact that we have included present issues, such as climate crisis and gender equality, in the Program is resonating with young people.
The second is the deadlock in the LDP politics. In the mid-1960s, LDP policies realized rapid economic growth despite growing contradictions such as inflation and pollution. However, Japan now has become a country that cannot grow and is in a serious crisis with no way out. Such a present situation desperately needs the JCP's development.
The third is the scale of the JCP's political influence. In the mid-1960s, the number of votes the party received in national elections ranged from one million and a few hundred thousand to two million. It had little influence on national politics back then, but it now has a much larger presence. In local politics, the JCP had about 1,200 local assembly members and about 1.5% as its share in local assemblies. Today, it has 2,530 members and 7.8% as its share in local assemblies. It is significant that the grassroots power of local assembly members has been maintained thanks to the whole party's tireless efforts. With this as a firm conviction, let us grow this power in the upcoming simultaneous local elections next spring. (Applause)
The fourth is a change of key players occurring in international politics. In the mid-1960s, the collapse of colonial rules was almost complete, but a handful of major powers still ruled the world as they wished. It was not until the 1980s that newly independent countries began to exercise their power in international politics. Today, as shown by the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, governments of a majority of countries in the world and civil society have taken over leading roles in international politics from a handful of major powers. The JCP is walking at the heart of the mainstream of the new world.
Everyone, time was not wasted. On the 100th anniversary of the founding of the JCP, let us strengthen our determination to utilize these enormous changes and concentrate our efforts on building a bigger and stronger party that will open up the future. (Applause)
Conclusion - toward next 100 years
The JCP's Constitution states the party's characteristic as follows:
"Standing for the principle that "the people are sovereign" since its founding, the party is conscious of its responsibility for striving to realize the keen interests of the people, promote social progress, and play an enlightened and indomitable role in Japanese society. Its ultimate objective is to realize a community of truly equal and free human relations, free of exploitation of man by man, and free of any forms of oppression or war."
It stipulates that the JCP is a revolutionary party that aims for socialism and communism as its ultimate objective.
Today, I used the word "revolution" many times. Revolution is neither fear nor chaos. The type of revolution we are seeking is to promote fundamental social change in peaceful and reasonable ways.
That is why the JCP has always faced fierce attacks by the ruling forces as I have explained today. There has never been a period of smooth sailing for us during the last 100 years. It has been a century of pioneering and hardship when we have overcome constant attacks to make our way forward. However, the continuous attack by the ruling forces is proof that the JCP is a revolutionary party. From a broad view point of social development, it may be an honor to be harassed by the ruling forces.
Japan's politics is in the midst of an upheaval that can lead to a new political transition. Internationally, systemic contradictions of capitalism are erupting in every field, such as the growth in poverty and social disparities as well as the worsening climate crisis. These are the conditions that can make the next 100 years a century of great progress and development for the people of Japan as well as the peoples of the world.
We are living in a time when the name of the "Japanese Communist Party" becomes alive in a real way.
Let us develop the qualities demonstrated in our 100-year history - dauntless spirit against any difficulties, self-improvement from the standpoint of science, and collaboration with people in pursuit of a united front - in a form suitable for the new era, pass on our endeavors to younger generations, and strive together to create a hopeful future. (Applause)
If you sympathize with our history and Program after listening to my speech today, please join the JCP on this occasion of the 100th anniversary of the JCP foundation. I earnestly call on you to do so as it will align your precious life with the path toward social development.
Long live the Japanese Communist Party! Thank you. (Enthusiastic Applause)