The Japanese Communist Party held its New Year Assembly on January 4 at the JCP head office in Tokyo, attended by Central Committee members, including Fuwa Tetsuzo, Central Committee chair, Shii Kazuo, Executive Committee chair, and Ichida Tadayoshi, Secretariat head. Shii made the following speech:
Japan should play an active role in the relief efforts for Sumatra quake and tsunami victims
Happy New Year. I wish you all the best for 2005. My greetings also go to everyone who is watching this assembly throughout Japan via the communication satellite broadcast system.
Let me begin by speaking about the tsunamis generated by the major earthquake off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra Island late last year. In this major disaster without parallel in history, more than 140,000 people have been confirmed dead. I want to express my condolences to the victims and my sympathy for the governments and people concerned.
The urgent global task is to offer relief and aid to evacuees and to make every effort to prevent epidemics and other secondary damage. Japan is called upon to offer relief to the victims with first-aid supplies and medical assistance in cooperation with the United Nations, international humanitarian aid organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
As part of its longer-term response, Japan, which has frequently been hit by earthquakes and tsunamis, is called upon to utilize the expertise it has acquired in disaster prevention and provide necessary funds, technology, and experts to establish a tsunami and other disaster alarm system in the Asia-Pacific-Indian Ocean.
I want to emphasize that Japan's true international contribution should be carrying out these tasks in solidarity with the suffering people.
Oppose any argument to justify the war of aggression
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. I think the task is for the Japanese people to clearly understand the basis on which the present world order is built and to stop any attempts to reverse history. From this point of view, I will point out three urgent tasks facing Japan.
First, we must not allow any attempts to justify Japanese militarism's past war of aggression by distortions of history.
By rejecting the present-day world order, Japan will lose its place in Asia
Last year, some political leaders visited Yasukuni Shrine and made many statements eulogizing the Japanese war of aggression and colonization. Some prefectural boards of education decided to force some schools to use the history textbook with distorted facts. No wonder that these actions stirred up criticism in many Asian countries. This explains why Japan's past war is not an internal matter of Japan but a serious international question.
The world order was built after the war based on the worldwide denunciation of the war of aggression carried out by Japan, Germany, and Italy. All provisions of the United Nations Charter signed 60 years ago are based on the determination to never again allow the recurrence of wars of aggression.
If Japan's attempt to continue to justify the past war as a just war comes to represent the mainstream, Japan will lose its standing in Asia and the rest of the world because it will be regarded as a country that rejects the present world order. I want to urge the government and the ruling parties, and in particular Prime Minister Koizumi, to keep this in mind.
Germany has regained European confidence
Germany, like Japan, acted as an aggressor nation in the Second World War. After the war, Germany thoroughly criticized the war crimes Nazi Germany had committed. It has made continuous efforts so that future generations will remember the mistake. Germany has earned the respect of Europe from these efforts.
Gerhard Schroder was the fist German chancellor to attend the ceremony to mark the 60th D-Day anniversary, together with leaders of the former Allied countries. At the first ever joint French-German commemoration of the storming of the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944, he stated: "We in Germany know who caused the war. We know our responsibility for history and we take it seriously."
The French people and the Germans may have differing memories of D-Day, but it has certainly become a common historical understanding of the peoples of Germany and France that the operation gave the momentum to liberate the whole Europe and Germany from the Nazis. The German chancellor's statement was received favorably as a move taken with strong sympathy that will help ensure national reconciliation and lasting peace in Europe.
We will work to establish relations with Asian countries sharing common historical view and striving for peace
Isn't it necessary for Japan to establish relations with Asian countries as Germany has done with other European countries? Japan is called upon to clearly accept its responsibility for the war of aggression and share this understanding of history with other Asian countries so that all Asian countries can together develop their relations in pursuit of a peaceful future.
Since its founding 83 years ago, the Japanese Communist Party has opposed the war of aggression at the cost of the lives of many of its members. I want to stress at the beginning of the new year that the JCP is prepared to make every effort to develop peaceful relations.
Oppose every attempt to destroy Article 9 in defense of its principle of peace
The second issue is opposition to every attempt to destroy Article 9 in defense of our proud principles of peace.
Article 9 embraces Japanese people's two determinations
I think it important to reaffirm the two determinations that the Japanese people made when they established Article 9.
One is the commitment Japan affirmed internationally that it will never be a war-fighting nation. We must not forget that this renunciation of war was established at the enormous human cost of Japan's war of aggression that killed 20 million Asian people and more than three million Japanese people.
The other is determination to take on a pioneering role in defense of world peace by being the fist country to renounce war and ban possessing any war potential. "Story of the New Constitution" published by the Education Ministry following the establishment of the Constitution explained Article 9 as follows: "Japan stepped ahead of the rest of the world in doing the right thing. In this world, nothing is mightier than right."
Revising Article 9 amounts to throwing 'No war pledge' away in contravention of Japan's 'international commitment'
Remember the principles Japan established after the war and you will realize how dangerous it is for the Liberal Democratic and Democratic parties to compete for an adverse revision of Article 9.
First of all, the attempt goes against Japan's "international pledge" by throwing the "no war pledge" away.
When the LDP published its draft revision of the Constitution late last year, revealing its intention to turn Japan into a war-fighting nation, a cross-party group of South Korean parliamentarians criticized it and said, "It threatens the existence of our race." Chinese and Southeast Asian media described the move as a "return of Japanese militarism." I think all this indicates that many Asian peoples regard Article 9 not just as part of the Japanese Constitution but as an asset acquired at the human cost of war and shared by other Asian countries.
Realities of international politics call for Article 9's ideal of peace
Secondly, let us take a look at the leading role Article 9 has played. At the time when the Japanese Constitution was enacted, Japan was a "special nation" that declared the "right thing" ahead of the rest of the world. The early part of the 21st century has seen the biggest ever groundswell of calls for a world without war. In this circumstance, Article 9 is now an international focus of attention as a provision of universal significance. The U.N. Millennium Forum stated in its report that each country should have a war-renouncing article in their Constitution like Japan's Article 9.
Sixty years after the end of WW II, realities of international politics are calling for the ideal set out in Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. At a time when Article 9 shines the brightest in its own history, it will be folly for Japan to abandon this treasure.
Increase the national struggle to isolate moves to adversely revise the Constitution
Last year, nine major public figures established the Article 9 Association. Grassroots struggles to defend the Constitution increased throughout the country. They represent the people's wish and strong energy for peace.
Let us use our knowledge and power this year to develop the moves into a nationwide movement and to surround the force attempting to revise the Constitution.
Increase cooperation in the effort to defend rules for peace established in UN Charter
Thirdly, we must increase joint efforts in Japan and elsewhere to "defend rules for peace established in the United Nations Charter."
Lawless war deepened U.S. isolation
The past year saw that the forces for the lawless war on Iraq were further isolated internationally, making their failure apparent.
What they used to justify the war has proved to be based on false allegations. The massacre in Fallujah has given rise to condemnations throughout the world. The war coalition, which the U.S. calls the "Coalition of the Willing," began to break up. Of the 37 countries which dispatched troops to Iraq in support of the U.S., 9 countries, including Spain withdrew forces, and 7 countries, including the Netherlands, have decided to withdraw. Thus, only 21 countries remain in the "Coalition of the Willing" and continue to keep troops deployed.
Opinion polls throughout the world show how isolated the U.S. is.
In a Eurobarometer survey of 29 EC countries and in one region in December 2004, 58 percent of the respondents said, "the U.S. plays a negative role as regard to world peace."
In a Latino Barometro survey of 18 countries in October 2004, 85 percent of the respondents answered they "do not support U.S. actions in Iraq," apparently in association with the groundswell of calls for independence and democracy in Latin America.
In Japan a Yomiuri Shimbun/Gallup poll in December 2004 found that 53 percent answered that they do not trust the U.S. The figure has kept rising for three straight years.
In the United States, a Washington Post/ABC News survey in December 2004 showed that 56 percent of those questioned agreed that the cost of the war "is not worth it." Thus, even in the U.S. the Bush administration failed to get majority support for the first time since it began the war of aggression.
Structural changes that have taken place in the world during the last 60 years and a groundswell of calls for peace
Behind the global trend toward peace lie major structural changes that have taken place in the world during the last 60 years since the end of WWII.
When the United Nations was established sixty years ago, the world had high expectations for the five major countries which played a major role in the war against fascism to achieve a "world without war."
In this early part of the 21st century, it is not a handful of major powers that support the unprecedentedly gigantic wave calling for a "warless world." It is all countries and peoples, in particular those which achieved national independence during the last 60 years.
Forces that believe that the superpower United States can manipulate the world are unable to see this sea change.
Historic changes taking place in Asia in favor of peace; Japan must establish its independent diplomacy to back this current
It is important to note that the movement calling for the establishment of a continent without war is increasing in Asia, which used to be a region of hostility and division.
The call for a peaceful international order based on the United Nations Charter was embraced by the Beijing Declaration adopted at the Third International Conference of Asian Political Parties in September 2004.
Also, Papua New Guinea, China, India, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, and Russia have joined the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) which is often referred to ASEAN's "peace constitution." The TAC now covers a total population of 3.3 billion, more than half of the world's population, a massive tide toward peace.
All this is taking place in the world and Asia in the 21st century. The United Nations framework of peace has revived 60 years after the end of WWII, giving full play to its role. Japan, as a country in Asia, is called upon to carry out an independent foreign policy in line with Asia's efforts for peace, and to settle all pending issues, including the North Korea question, through peaceful negotiations based on reason.
The New Year sees a big current flowing toward a "warless world" both in Japan and the world. The JCP will make further efforts for peace through opposition party diplomacy and domestic struggles.
Stop the tax increase that will ruin lives and the economy
This year's biggest issue in domestic politics concerning people's living conditions will be whether or not to accept the major tax increase plan.
Late last year, the draft government budget and the ruling parties' reform plan were reported by major newspapers with such headlines as: Major tax increase policy set in motion (Mainichi Shimbun); Sizable tax increase policy takes shape (Tokyo Shimbun); Heavier burdens to be shifted on to everyone, young or old (Asahi Shimbun); Government puts emphasis on the need for tax increase (Yomiuri Shimbun); and A major step toward tax increase (Nikkei Shimbun). Warning against the tax increase, a Tokyo Shimbun editorial pointed out that the tax plan would cause serious problems among the public, saying, "The people may lose patience with 'pain' before long."
Shifting an extra burden of 7 trillion yen onto the people in the next 2 years
How many extra burdens is the government planning to impose on the household economy?
The parliament has already enacted a 3-trillion yen increase in the amount of burdens to be shouldered by people in FY 2005 and FY 2006. This includes an increase in the pension premiums, abolition of special tax deductions for spouses, and the introduction of a lower consumption tax exemption limit.
In addition, the government plans to force the people to pay an extra 4 trillion yen in the next two years, including 3.3 trillion yen from the phased abolition of fixed-rate cuts in income and residential taxes as well as increases in user fees and premiums in the nursing care insurance.
As a result, the people will be forced to pay an extra 7 trillion yen in the next two years. What's more, the ruling parties and the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan are pushing for a consumption tax rate increase to more than 10 percent in FY 2007.
Repeating the Hashimoto government's mistake will deal a severe blow to Japan's economy
In the face of these outrageous plans, some government and ruling party officials as well as businesspeople and economists are concerned that these plans may lead to the same mistake the Hashimoto government made. In 1997, Prime Minister Hashimoto Ryutaro's Cabinet forced through a 9 trillion yen increase in the people's burden by increasing the consumption tax rate. His misgovernment, in the end, not only slowed down the nation's economy, which was recovering at a slow pace, but damaged fiscal conditions.
If the present massive tax increase plan comes into effect, it will have more negative impacts on the Japanese economy than the 1999 tax increases. At that time, household income was growing 5-6 trillion yen a year. The extra burden imposed by Hashimoto was more than the household income growth, thus destroying the nation's economy.
During the last few years, household income has decreased by 3-6 trillion yen a year. The 7 trillion yen extra burden will cause immeasurable damage to the nation's economy as well as people's livelihoods.
JCP is called upon to play its part
It is unacceptable that the government is going to shift a huge amount of extra burden onto taxpayers while continuing with large public works projects, including the second phase of construction at Kansai International Airport and generous tax breaks for large companies and high-income earners.
The JCP will make every effort to stop these plans that will force the people to pay more. This year, the JCP will take part in various activities to defend people's livelihoods, and will launch and develop campaigns throughout the country in opposition to the plan to impose the extra 7 trillion yen burdens and the move to increase the consumption tax rate. We will be in the forefront these movements.
Let's devote our energy to increasing JCP's capabilities
Finally, I want to talk about how we should improve party activity to build a stronger JCP this year.
We all know the importance of getting prepared for a dissolution of the House of Representatives and a general election. However, it is highly probable that no major parliamentary election will be held this year.
In this circumstance, we will put the most energy in the work to increase the party's capabilities in order to steadily achieve victories in this year's by-elections, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, the Kitakyushu City Assembly election, and other elections to establish new local assemblies following municipality mergers. This is important for a JCP advance in the next parliamentary elections. I want to use this speech to call on every party member to make clear their objectives and goals at the start of this year's work, keeping in mind that we should take this year as an historic opportunity to devote our energy to efforts to build a party capable of waging struggles for 21st century tasks and that the JCP's future hinges on our success in accomplishing this task.
Let me touch upon three most important points.
JCP activity based on the principle that the 'JCP will be present wherever people have hardships'
First, we need to develop JCP activity in every field based on the principle that the "JCP will be present wherever people have hardships".
It is important to note in this regard the party's disaster relief activities for victims of the major earthquake in Niigata and of typhoons and heavy rains in various parts of the country. The JCP collected more than 200 billion yen (about 1.9 billion US dollars) by the end of last year. A total of 12 thousand people took part in volunteer work in support of these disaster victims. We delivered supplies in more than 8,000 boxes to these disaster areas. JCP Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi and I visited victims and listened to them. In every disaster area I visited I found many JCP members, who were themselves victims, who were in the front line of relief activities. JCP volunteers from all over the country were working hard sharing the difficulties with victims. Their activities contributed to nurturing the sense of solidarity with the JCP among many local residents. This was a very moving experience. That reminded me of the principle that made our predecessors establish the JCP.
Need to build firm theoretical and organizational foundation
The second point is the need to make efforts to build a firm theoretical and organizational foundation for the party.
Building the theoretical foundation of the party means first of all reading the new JCP Program so that every party member can talk about the JCP in their own way. Last year, after the House of Councilors election, more than 5,000 JCP branches held study meetings on the JCP Program. This is an important development that shows that the learning spirit is increasing in many party organizations. I would like to call on all party members to make this tendency a nationwide movement that will help ensure that every JCP member will have conviction in the party's theory and policies throughout any political turmoils.
I also want to emphasize one thing in connection with the effort to build a strong organizational foundation. That is the effort to establish a party in which all party members implement the three basic principles: attend regular branch meetings; pay party dues; and read the daily Akahata. Implementing these three principles is not just a technical matter. It has to do with the foundation and quality of the party. In fact, branches that are implementing these three principles are developing activities in which branch members help each other.
Toward a 500,000-strong JCP, we will improve Akahata and increase its readership
Thirdly, we must fulfill our goal of building a 500,000-strong JCP by the end of this year. In particular, we attach importance to party activity among young people who are building on the achievements we made last year. We will also put greater emphasis on work to expand party ranks so as to be able to achieve a 30-percent increase in Akahata readership from the previous Diet election.
In this context, we will put great energy in the work to improve Akahata's quality and increase readership. We are determined to offer readers quality articles in order to keep attracting new subscribers.
In this year that marks the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, the JCP must display its real value as a party that is carrying out the varied tasks of defending peace and social justice in the world and of frustrating the moves toward establishing a "two party system". We must make every effort to become strong enough to fulfill these tasks.
With this I conclude my New Year speech. (end)