View from Japan: Be alert to Japan’s creeping communist party

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Editor’s note: this analysis was originally published by the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and is reposted here with its permission.

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Campaigns have started in Japan for the October 31 general election of the House of Representatives. A remark by Secretary General Akira Amari of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) got to the bottom of the importance of the coming election: “The election amounts to a choice between a liberal democratic government and a regime that would embrace communism for the first time.”

Seeing the coming election as having potential to allow the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) to take part in a ruling coalition, the party has made great concessions to the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party by coordinating candidates and abandoning its goal of collecting 8.5 million votes for proportional representation in a last-ditch effort to join a coalition government. CDP leader Yukio Edano has been vague whether the JCP could be included into a CDP-led coalition government, but has not denied the possibility of treating the JCP as an ally without inviting any JCP member to participate in the cabinet. The JCP might have bet its fate on the coming election, departing from its reiterated stance that it would seek only mutually beneficial election cooperation with any other political party.

Why? As approval ratings for the administration led by new Liberal Democratic Party President and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida are not very high, the JCP might have pulled out a wild card to cooperate with the CDP to win power from the LDP and its junior coalition partner, the Komeito Party.

Japan’s Communist Party has yet to rule out violent revolution

There might be reasons for the JCP to renounce violence now.  As the JCP will mark its centennial next year, it may not want to remain stagnant any longer. Ichiro Ozawa, a CDP member who is the longest serving member of the House and known for his back-room influence, might have played a role in engineering cooperation between the two parties.

At its convention in January 2020, the JCP deleted its favorable view of the Chinese Communist Party as an ally from its platform because of the Japanese public’s strong anti-China sentiment. At the end of the year, the JCP protested against the Public Security Intelligence Agency’s designation of the party as subjected to investigations under the Subversive Activities Prevention Act, collaborating even with the moderate Democratic Party for the People.

This year, the JCP began to deny its theory that the choice between a violent revolution or a pursuit of parliamentary majority depends on the enemy’s attitude, claiming that the JCP of today has nothing to do with such theory. That is a lie. Post-war Japanese Communist Party JCP leaders Kenji Miyamoto and Tetsuzo Fuwa denied parliamentary democracy and expelled Shojiro Kasuga and other parliamentarists (those who believe in the parliamentary system of government) when drafting a party platform in 1961. They also harshly criticized the then Japan Socialist Party’s parliamentarism.

Miyamoto led the Japanese Communist Party from 1958-1977 and died in 2007.  He once told a JCP meeting that the choice between a violent revolution or a pursuit of parliamentary majority would depend on the enemy’s attitude and that specific measures for the choice did not have to be written in any document, as noted by Vladimir Lenin.  Fuwa, age 91, amplified the Miyamoto approach, calling it “people’s parliamentarism.” His paper released on April 29, 1967, detailed the approach, becoming a must-read for JCP members.

Incumbent JCP Chairman Kazuo Shii began this year by claiming that the party would not mention the “enemy’s attitude” theory. If so, he should apologize to the public and admit that the Miyamoto-Fuwa approach was wrong. In fact, the JCP is refraining from revealing its strategy. If the strategy is revealed, the JCP may come under some action based on the Subversive Activities Prevention Act. The Public Security Intelligence Agency has subjected the JCP as well as right wing and extremist groups to investigations under the act because the agency has judged that the JCP has yet to abandon the “enemy’s attitude” theory. The JCP has been desperate to break down the barrier of the act.

The Japan-U.S. security partnership could collapse

If a CDP-led coalition government is realized, irrespective of whether the JCP would join in a coalition cabinet, the government would first seek to relieve the JCP from the Subversive Activities Prevention Act and then abolish it. It also would modify or terminate the Public Security Intelligence Agency. If the JCP takes part in a cabinet, the Japan-U.S. security partnership also would not be maintained. The CDP-led government would abolish the peace and security law and cancel the construction of a U.S. military base in Henoko, Okinawa Prefecture, as specified in an agreement between opposition parties for their election cooperation. We should not allow such a dangerous government takeover.

Prime Minister Kishida has said politics is about preparing for emergencies. It would be dangerous if we do not prepare for the creeping Japanese Communist Party.

Shohei Umezawa is Chairman of the Council of the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and Professor Emeritus at Shobi Gakuen University in Kawagoe, Japan.

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