The Japanese Communist Party Central Committee held its 2002 New Year Meeting on January 4 at the JCP head office in Tokyo. Executive Committee Chair Shii Kazuo made the following speech:
Happy New Year to those in the JCP head office, and to people at JCP branches and organizations throughout the country viewing via satellite communication.
The second year of the 21st century has opened amid a cataclysm.
I believe that in such a historic period it is important to clearly distinguish the mainstream of history from currents against history.
If we limit our view to a cross-section of things at a time when adverse currents appear to be preponderant, but in a historic perspective, the main stream can be clearly distinguished from adverse currents.
Let me analyze a couple of questions from this viewpoint.
Simultaneous terrorist attacks took place, followed by a retaliatory war.
In describing the U.S. retaliatory war against Afghanistan, someone used a metaphor of several thousand vigorous elephants fighting against a handful of exhausted ants. It really was a war that shows off the overwhelming military power of the United States.
The retaliatory war has brought down the Taliban rule and helped to establish an interim government. We know from reports that Afghan people are rejoicing over the downfall of the repressive Taliban rule, but we must not overlook the enormous human sacrifice.
First, the war took the lives of several thousand innocent Afghan citizens. A U.S. researcher estimates that at least 3,767 people were killed in air strikes as of December 6, 2001. The death toll has increased since then.
Yesterday, I heard on the phone from Takeshita Takeshi, Akahata's Kabul correspondent, saying that those who have lost their family members in the air raids suffer from deep trauma and also face economic difficulty due to the loss of breadwinners. He said they are demanding that the U.S. apologize and compensate for the damage.
These claims by the Afghan people are modest and reasonable.
Second, the war jeopardized the international rules of peace. The U.S. retaliatory war violently damaged or destroyed the order of world peace which humanity won in the 20th century at the great cost of two world wars, including outlawing wars, quest for the peaceful settlement of international disputes, respect for the right of national self-determination, and legal settlement of international terrorist attacks.
The world is now facing lawlessness that would allow any action to be tolerable as long as it has a label of "anti-terrorist."
The immediate task before the international community is to examine the number of civilian casualties and how international law and peace rules were violated, establish the responsibility, and draw lessons from it.
Has the war succeeded in eliminating terrorism, despite the fact that so many sacrifices have been made? Bin Laden is still missing, and even if he is arrested, it is absolutely impossible to destroy the worldwide terrorist network by means of war. Overconfident in its "victory," the United States has declared that it will fight wars across the world.
I would like to call your attention to two outrageous remarks U.S. President Bush made late last year.
One was during an interview by news organizations, including Reuters, on December 21. Bush said, "Next year will be a war year." He said that terrorist organizations are spread across the world and that 2002 will be a year of war to capture all those who are hiding in countries other than Afghanistan.
Another statement was on December 11, when he said that those countries that are highly likely to provide terrorists with nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons are rogue states, and that they should be held responsible for this.
By unilaterally labeling "rogue states" and treating them as "threats," the United States is identifying them as targets of military attacks. Under the Clinton administration, the U.S. has had to review its strategy and stopped using the label of "rogue state," and replaced it with "concerned states." Now, U.S. President Bush has openly changed this policy by declaring that they might be considered as targets of military attacks. This is very serious.
Which countries are the U.S. going to attack? The U.S. has referred to Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, and other countries as possible targets. Once the U.S. unilaterally judges some country as "supporting terrorists" and "developing weapons of mass destruction," it eventually means launching unilateral attacks---No country can be allowed to commit such unlawful actions.
A new type of hegemonism under the pretext of the need to "counter terrorism" seems to be rampant throughout the world. We must block it now. The year 2002 must not be made a year of war, but a year of a "start toward peace." I want to call on the world to strengthen international solidarity toward this end.
The simultaneous terrorist attacks that took citizens' lives indiscriminately were the worst kind of historical adverse current rejecting humanity. These attacks were retaliated by means of war. Historically, that also constitutes a reversal of history in that it goes against the peace order established by humankind throughout the 20th century.
I think that the recent U.S. call for expansion of the war is in natural consequence of resorting to a retaliatory war.
Clinging to military retaliation will mean an endless escalation of war, reproducing hatred and helping to create more hotbeds of terrorism. Strong opposition to the expansion of war is now growing even among NATO countries, and the United States will not be able to escape its isolation. I believe that this indicates contradictions and failures pertaining to wars of retaliation. The future does not belong to those who are going against the peace order of the world.
Late last year, the Japanese edition of Newsweek magazine ran a feature story entitled, "Can dependent country Japan break from inertia in submission to the United States?" The article stated that Japanese diplomats have spent 50 years to try to hold down troubles in its relations with the United States and paid little attention to affairs of the rest of the world. It pointed out that Japan will not be able to earn respect from other countries unless it becomes independent on foreign affairs. I was very interested in the severe criticism of Japan's being a dependent country, although Newsweek's fundamental stance is different from ours.
Urged by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to show Japan's national flag and troops as a gesture of Japan's visible support for the U.S. war, Japan rushed to send troops abroad in violation of the Constitution without trying to activate critical thinking ability. At a time when Britain and other U.S. allies are opposed to the idea of expanding the war to Iraq and other countries, Japan remains the only major country that tries hard to avoid causing troubles to its relations with the United States. Isn't this exactly what Japan must break with?
At this international historical juncture, the JCP twice sent letters to government leaders throughout the world, calling for the problem to be solved through non-military measures by bringing the perpetrators to justice in conformity with international law.
We sent a JCP team to Pakistan and have made known to the public in Japan and abroad the present state of starving Afghan people who fled the war-torn country. This precisely represents efforts to achieve peace and is what Japan should do as a responsible consequence of a country guided by Article 9 of the Constitution. We are firmly convinced that this is also the path that Japan should follow in the 21st century, standing for the main current of history.
In Japan, the Koizumi Cabinet took office in April 2001, and a political boom called the "Koizumi whirlwind" raged, giving rise to an illusion that this mood can help change Japan at its roots.
The fact is that the Liberal Democratic Party president was obliged to say he would reject the LDP, using such violent language as "bust the LDP." I think that this is an expression that the no-way-out position of the LDP has reached a historic limit. The Koizumi Cabinet is a product of such an impasse of LDP politics.
And now, the product of that impasse is further boxed up.
Now eight months since its start, the Koizumi Cabinet is still enjoying high support rates ranging from 60 to 70 percent. In an NHK poll in December 2001 on the government and the ruling parties' plan to make insured patients pay 30 percent of their medical costs instead of the present 20 percent, 61 percent of respondents expressed disapproval of the plan. The percentage is far greater than the 31 percent who approve the plan. People's concerns about medical service costs are really deep-seated. As to the government policy of abolishing the Housing Loan Bank within five years, 46 percent were against the plan, while 36 percent were in favor.
The cabinet approval rating in general may be still high, but support seems to be eroding at its base.
The JCP is now carrying on a united effort to build a strong JCP by increasing the JCP membership and Akahata readership. Through this effort, people whom the JCP talked with on such specific questions such as medical services, corporate restructuring, and small- and medium-sized businesses wanted to be heard. I hear many examples from everywhere that the value of the JCP has become clearer through these dialogues.
My view is that the kind of tightrope-walking politics in which the LDP president cries for busting the LDP and gives a false appearance of a hopeful future to the old politics by resorting to his popularity alone won't last long.
The most noticeable failure of the Liberal Democratic Party government under Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro is that it can't find any way out of the economic crisis.
The Japanese economy is in crisis, characterized by a deflationary spiral, or a vicious circle of deflation, in which a business slump and price reductions are going on simultaneously, capitalist countries is experiencing. Japan is thus entering the most serious postwar economic crisis that may have no parallel in any other developed capitalist country.
Recent price falls are not necessarily helping people to improve their living conditions. Workers now have lowered income, and less income leads to a decline in personal consumption. In other words, price falls are taking place at a time when demand is shrinking in the whole of society.
The fall in personal consumption has caused a contraction of corporate production, which in turn has decreased personal income. In this way, the present Japanese economy is experiencing a continuous fall of income, consumption, and production.
Obviously, the most effective way to overcome the present crisis is to increase demand. But, the LDP government has long gone the other way round by squandering enormous amounts of taxpayers money on public works projects under the pretext of boosting the economy. But it clearly failed. "Effective steps" must include measures to secure and increase employment, improve social welfare, and directly encourage the household consumption that makes up 60 percent of Japan's total demand. A "good stimulus policy" will help rehabilitate the Japanese economy by supporting the people's daily earnings.
In this way, the economic policy of the Japanese Communist Party will make the people's living conditions healthier, and also help overcome the economic crisis.
The opposite of this is the Koizumi Cabinet's "restructuring policy." When it became clearer that an adverse "stimulus policy" has only helped to spend wasteful money for public works projects, the government began to deny the need for measures to give the economy a jump start. It is now only focusing on strengthening the "supply" side of Japan's major corporations.
The government is determined to destroy everything that stands in the way to carry out this policy. The government has been calling for "creative destruction," but the present government policies will only help undermine the people's livelihoods.
The government measures include an early "disposal of bad loans" which means scrapping smaller companies facing fierce crisis; supporting restructuring by major corporations by introducing a holding company system, and reducing their taxes; and urging people to pay more for social welfare in the name of "self-help" and "financial restructuring policy."
All these measures lead to increases in bankruptcies, and unemployment and heavier burdens on the public which directly hit the household economy. These are all adding to the shortage of demand.
A famous economist has described the "Koizumi reform" as a perilous action that can be likened to "diving in the dark." True, the present economic policy is tantamount to throwing the Japanese economy into a "deflationary spiral," a suicidal economic policy.
No grandiose slogan used by Prime Minister Koizumi can help to stop the exacerbation of Japan's economic crisis. The government is at a loss in its economic policy.
A strange thing happened late last year. The government approved two draft budgets with disparate contents on the same day. One was next year's draft budget, which includes a one-trillion yen cut in public works projects to meet the need of compiling an "austere budget." Another was a draft for the second supplementary budget for the current fiscal year which calls for an additional expenditure of 2.5 trillion yen for public works projects, following an old model.
A one trillion yen reduction on one side, and a 2.5 trillion yen increase on the other; the cabinet has completely lost sight of the way to overcome the deadlock.
I must say that the Koizumi Cabinet is incapable of managing the Japanese economy. There is no future for both his cabinet and LDP politics.
Let's launch a full-fledged action to counter mis-government by Koizumi. Let's organize a popular struggle that will help rehabilitate both the people's living conditions and Japan's economy, based on the JCP proposal for remaking Japan.
But, let me remind you that a political impasse reached by the old ruling forces will not automatically pave the way for new politics. The need is for forces with a capacity to lead new politics to grow and replace the existing regime. But, if forces striving for change are weak, that will not happen because the existing ruling forces, even at an impasse, will find a way to survive within the present ruling framework.
That is why our present united effort to build a stronger JCP, along with our call for the JCP to play an activist role in organizing struggles everywhere, has important national significance.
I recently learned that a person who is in the political nerve center commented on Koizumi politics and the Japanese Communist Party as follows:
"If the Koizumi Cabinet reaches a deadlock leading to a collapse of the conservative LDP government, we will fear the Communist Party more than any other political party. The LDP must not fail to pay attention to the organization and the presence of the Communist Party, which has built up an organization-based party."
This is how LDP officials are predicting that the Koizumi government will fail, that the failure will signal a crisis of the conservative LDP government, and that at that point, the JCP will be the biggest threat to them particularly because of its efforts to strengthen its grassroots connections.
But the same LDP official also said, "Fortunately, the JCP is not a people's party yet."
The task now is for us to strengthen our ties with the people to the point where the ruling circles see the JCP strength as a real threat and the people see the JCP as a reliable party. I want to emphasize that this is a key to achieving a breakthrough in the present political situation on our own initiative.
In the half year of the United Effort for the buildup of the JCP which was proposed by the JCP 3rd Central Committee Plenum, the party has made the first steps to make a major advance through its efforts in November and December.
In December, about 3,700 people joined the JCP, totaling some 5,900 new members since its start in late October. I want to give my heartfelt welcome to all those who made up their minds to lend their support to social progress as JCP members.
As regards the Akahata readership drive, strenuous efforts till the last day of December resulted in a net increase of 2,419 (Daily and Sunday Akahata) in readership. Thirty-five prefectural committees and 268 district committees have increased Akahata subscribers, totaling 8,207 in November and December.
These two months faced rather difficult conditions for launching the extra party drive, because regular conferences of prefectural and district committees were held simultaneously and a year-end fund raising campaign was taking place.
Strenuous efforts and the wisdom of the whole party, however, enabled it to mark its first step in the major JCP build-up campaign. I want to offer my deep respect to all party members.
Especially, I want to note that efforts are being made at various localities to develop new party activities through "interactive and circular relationships" between the Central Committee, prefectural and district committees, and branches, and within branches.
This suggests that the on-going party membership drive began to base itself on a "new motive power fitted to the 21st century," which guarantees party members to grow by deeply communicating with each other.
Our two-month drive tells us that we have the conditions to make a success of the great JCP campaign. Now, let's make this a whole party conviction.
Also, the gains in these months are still small and far from the goals of respective party organizations. In December, only one-fifth of JCP branches moved to win new party members, though they are on the increase, and nearly a half of the 26,000 branches got their readership increased.
How can we make the present United Effort a whole-party campaign in which JCP branches play the key role? We have established a basic policy for the drive in the 3rd JCP Central Committee Plenum. No detailed manual is available, but we will try to find concrete ways through discussions and practices between party bodies and branches, using interactive or circular approaches.
I am going to discuss two important things regarding lessons we have drawn and what we have felt in the last two months. We have visited many localities to carry out the United Efforts together with branches.
First, I want to underline the need for prefectural and district committees and branches to discuss the importance of carrying out their own political tasks for the United Efforts, establish an appropriate plan with an adequate target, and begin to act. A key to the success of the drive is that all JCP committees and branches establish their own plans and put them into practice.
Responding to the call of the 3rd CC Plenum for the JCP to play an activist role in organizing struggles, many JCP branches in workplaces are making vigorous efforts. We are delighted that in many workplaces throughout Japan they are making efforts to make the JCP stronger in order to improve their workplaces.
In the JCP Southern Kawasaki District Committee in Kanagawa Prefecture, which covers a district with many workplace branches, more than 80 percent of the branches succeeded in increasing JCP membership and Akahata readership last December. In the discussion before making a start, JCP members in the area reached a conclusion that it was time for them to fight against restructuring and build stronger JCP organizations in workplaces in order to protect workers' rights.
In workplaces, residential areas, and schools, let's carry out the drive with the ambition to be a powerful JCP as the base of the people's struggles, as a group of the majority of the public, and as a party which can play a major role in a democratic government.
The second important thing is that we should put equal emphasis on both quantity and quality.
In order to develop the JCP membership drive, we need not only to swiftly process applications and help them learn about the JCP, but also to improve branch activities so that new members can feel happy about their joining the JCP.
Only 20 percent of all JCP branches regularly hold a weekly branch meeting. This is the biggest weakness that must be overcome whatever difficulties there may be.
To spend just two of 168 hours or seven days of the week for a branch meeting is what anyone can do if they wish. To have a regular weekly meeting and consolidate a JCP branch into a group of warmhearted people, which can be a support for its members' lives and spirits, seems to be a small step but is actually a great job.
If all branches do this job, the whole party will be able to show a completely new capacity. I want to call on all party branches to hold a meeting every week as part of their efforts to carry out the drive.
What's important in developing the Akahata readership drive is that branches ensure that readers get the paper and are visited for collection of subscriptions regularly on time and that a warmhearted and friendly relation is established with readers. Some of the branches had the number of their readers decreased last December because they had failed to collect subscriptions from them for a long period of time. We must take such a problem seriously and make efforts to get it solved.
We need to improve our activities in many aspects so that we can provide readers with Akahata and a warm relationship, and make them feel satisfied reading Akahata.
Let's learn from the lessons and have confidence in what we have achieved in November and December and dash for the monthly goal from the beginning of this January with a determination never to fail to reach the goal. Let's take more steps forward in the next three months until April so that all our targets of the drive will be completely achieved.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Japanese Communist Party. We take pride in the JCP history characterized by its policy based on promoting peace, democracy, independence, and social progress, and unyielding struggles to achieve these objectives.
The JCP has established a network of JCP organizations linked with people at the grassroots all over Japan so that JCP policies can be put into practice. This is another reason for our taking pride in JCP history.
The JCP pledges to give its true value, politically and theoretically, as the party standing for the mainstream of history in the period of turmoil, and achieve a success in the JCP United Effort to make the JCP bigger and stronger, and win the next election. Thank you.