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Former newspaper sales agent employees join JCP

Three former newspaper sales agent employees joined the Japanese Communist Party in January in Matsudo City, Chiba Prefecture. They had run away from the manager's violence, low wages, and other harsh working conditions, when they discovered the JCP. They are now actively involved in party activities.

Last November, Saito Kota (pseudonym), 28, found a job as a newspaper sales and delivery agent. The help-wanted ad said that it would pay him 5,000 yen a day in addition to a base salary. But he was actually paid a commission of 1,500 yen per three-month subscriber. He used to walk 12 to 13 hours visiting 500 to 600 houses every day only to win three new subscribers at best.

Although Saito had the best score among sales persons there by getting about 30 new subscribers a month, he did not have the money to even buy food after dorm-related expenses were deducted from his monthly wages. "It was impossible for me to save money," he said.

He walked in order to save the 1,600 yen for train fare. Many of his colleagues were resorting to shoplifting and riding on trains without paying the fares. In two months he lost 10 kg and suffered hair loss. His manager frequently punched and kicked sales persons with poor sales performances. He recalled, "I really wanted to punch him for my colleagues."

Saito could not stand any longer. One day in January, he turned off his cellphone and got on a train, leaving his belongings at his office in order to prevent his colleagues from noticing that he ran away. After arriving in Matsudo City, he met with his 33-year-old colleague Matsuno Yosuke (pseudonym).

They both had lost touch with their parents due to having troubles with them. With only 1,000 yen in their pockets, they went to an Internet caf? and looked for and called the phone number of the temporary "tent village" that was built in Tokyo's Hibiya Park as a shelter for dismissed temporary workers. However, it was too late. The relief center for homeless had already been closed at the end of the New Year holidays.

When suicide crossed their minds, a "tent village" staff member gave them the phone number of a Japanese Communist Party district committee.

JCP Chiba Prefectural Assembly member Miwa Yoshimi rushed to pick them up right after receiving a call from them and took them to a JCP party gathering, where JCP local branch members donated food and clothes and offered them a place to sleep.

Okano, who studied art history in college, said, "I used to hear bad rumors about the JCP, but I've found that it is working for a better society. I've never imagined that it was an organization that helps someone like me." Saito with short brown hair said, "Since I didn't know anything about politics, I had no idea how great the JCP was." They immediately decided to join the JCP.

Both Saito and Okano were working as temporary workers all the time. "It has been my only choice since I graduated from college. No matter how hard I tried, nothing worked," said Okano.

On the next day, their 55-year-old colleague Yamamoto Osamu (pseudonym) joined them. He was sleeping at a station for a few days after running away from the newspaper sales agent.

Yamamoto was walking 50 km a day, drinking only a bottle of water a day. Hurting his foot and spinal cord, he had to take painkillers in order to sleep every night in his small dormitory room. He also followed his young colleagues to join the JCP.

A few days later, Okano took part in a street drive organized by a local JCP branch. Smiling, he said, "I don't feel any anti-communist sentiment from the public. Many take out our flyers." On January 31, after watching JCP Chair Shii Kazuo's questioning session in the Diet on TV, he said, "I was so impressed that I had goose pimples when I realized Shii cares about persons who are in a state of homelessness."

Interviewed by a French magazine reporter, Saito said, "I am proud of being a JCP member. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I want to help those who are experiencing similar hardships. Many temporary workers are being dismissed, and many are enduring severe hardships. Only the JCP is acting to help them."

- Akahata, February 4, 2009

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