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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 October 24 - 30  > JCP is capable of pushing for fundamental change: JCP Shii
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2007 October 24 - 30 [POLITICS]

JCP is capable of pushing for fundamental change: JCP Shii

October 25, 2007
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on October 21 gave a speech on the present political situation in an inner-party exchange meeting in Nagasaki City. The summary of his speech is as follows:

Collapse of pro-Yasukuni Abe cabinet and JCP’s role in producing positive changes

The collapse of the pro-Yasukuni Shrine Abe cabinet was undoubtedly the most significant change in the recent political situation.

The JCP Central Committee 5th Plenum on September 9 pointed out that the Abe Liberal Democratic-Komei parties’ government had politically been in terminal decline. It was only three days later that this analysis was proven to be correct by then Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s abrupt resignation.

The fact that the Abe government collapsed in such a miserable manner dealt a major blow to the pro-Yasukuni forces. It came as such a great shock to them that a well-known pro-Yasukuni pundit grieved over the collapse of the Abe government by saying, “We will have a decade-long winter from now. A period of political reaction has begun.”

The JCP has played a significant role in bringing about this new situation. The JCP worked to get to the bottom of the Yasukuni Shrine issue and thoroughly carried out struggles against the adverse current that appeared concerning historical issues under the Koizumi and Abe governments.

When the Abe cabinet took office and began calling for a “breakaway from the postwar regime” and building “a beautiful Japan,” the JCP revealed that the government was determined to deny the pacific and democratic system as defined in the Constitution and to revive the prewar militarism. The JCP’s struggle took the lead in the public criticism of the Abe government and led to its collapse. The analysis based on truth and justice changed politics.

With the collapse of the pro-Yasukuni Abe government, the adverse current trying to glorify Japan’s past war of aggression has suffered a major setback. This development also imposes a restraint on moves by the pro-constitutional revision forces, although we should not underestimate their strength.

Let us have confidence in the JCP’s role in creating such positive changes in the situation and continue to struggle to remove the Abe cabinet’s “negative legacy,” including the distorted textbook screening policy concerning the Battle of Okinawa and the wartime sex slavery issue, and to root out the reactionary current in the historical issues. With respect to the Constitution, the pro-constitutional revision forces of course have not given up their goal. They will make a fresh start. So, now is the time for us to further strengthen public opinion and struggles in defense of Article 9 in order to win a majority of public support.

JCP will squarely confront Fukuda government

After former Prime Minister Abe stepped down, the Fukuda government was formed. We must note that with this change of government some new characteristics have emerged in the moves towards the establishment of a “two-major party system.”

The JCP has a firm foothold to confront whoever our opponent may be. On an Asahi Newstar TV program aired on October 20, I had a chance to debate with former LDP Secretary General Kato Koichi. Kato first said to me, “[Compared to former Prime Minister Abe,] you have found it difficult to deal with Prime Minister Fukuda, haven’t you?” I said, “Not at all. Mr. Fukuda invented the slogan, ‘Building a Japan in which the young have hope for the future and the elderly have a sense of security.’ So, in the House of Representatives plenary session I asked him some questions about his policies on social welfare programs for the elderly and working conditions for the young. His answers, however, showed that there is no change in the basic policies of ‘structural reform’ based on the law of the jungle as well as the basic policy of doing whatever the U.S. says.” I said to Mr. Kato the JCP will squarely confront the Fukuda government.

Whoever may become the prime minister, the JCP will maintain its stance of calling for drastic changes in policies, and adhering to our principle of undertaking democratic reforms to rectify the three aberrations of the LDP policies. Pressed by public opinion, the Fukuda government has had to make small adjustments to its structural reform policies in various fields. The JCP will further drive the government into a corner in order to actually achieve further demands of the public.

This change of government may bring about positive changes in policies on the North Korean issue as well as other diplomatic issues with Asia, and in fact some signs of change have already appeared. Concerning these questions, the JCP will not pursue party politics but will work to further promote such changes. Efforts to put an end to the policies of the pro-Yasukuni forces are welcome regardless of who makes them.

Today, we are facing a new situation in which public opinion can actually change policies. Seizing this opportunity, we will seek changes in the actual policies. At the same time, the JCP will make utmost efforts to gain support for a new policy framework to replace the LDP policy.

Sending SDF overseas in any form is unconstitutional

Let us turn to the question of the Democratic Party. Claiming to be “in opposition to the Abe Liberal Democratic-Komei parties’ government,” the DPJ took a stance of “confronting” the former Abe government. As long as the DPJ dealt with the Abe government as the opponent, it was not so hard for the DPJ to adopt such “confrontation” tactics because former Prime Minister Abe is considered the most rightist among LDP politicians. Compared to such an ultra-rightist prime minister, even the DPJ led by Mr. Ozawa Ichiro appears to be “left”. So, it was rather easy for the DPJ to “confront” the government.

This time, however, Prime Minister Fukuda is an “ordinary LDP politician,” so to speak, and different from the ultra-rightist like Mr. Abe. Faced with the “ordinary LDP prime minister,” differences between the LDP and the DPJ have faded away because Mr. Ozawa, after all, is a politician who once served as LDP secretary general.

The DPJ still tries to maintain the “confrontation” tactics. In the present situation, however, the DPJ efforts to dare to show the differences from the government may cause absurd problems. For instance, in relation to questions of the new anti-terrorism special measures bill, Mr. Ozawa proposed to send the Self-Defense Forces to Afghanistan to take part in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Although established by a United Nations Security Council resolution, the ISAF is commanded by NATO forces. The ISAF in fact is waging a war with the U.S. forces. Obviously, SDF participation in the ISAF goes against the Constitution.

It is said that while the ruling parties are willing to send the Maritime SDF, the DPJ is willing to send the Ground SDF. These parties are competing whether to send the SDF to missions on the sea or on the land. Commenting on this situation, a newscaster on a TV news program said, “Now, it is difficult to tell which is more hawkish.” Thus, it has become clear that there is little differences between the LDP and the DPJ as regards their unconstitutional policies of sending the SDF abroad.

Recently, I made a speech in a meeting to discuss Japan’s future organized by a JCP branch in Funabashi City in Chiba Prefecture. A participant said, “I’ve counted on the DPJ, but from now on I will support the JCP.” I asked him, “Why?” He said, “The DPJ has become the same as the LDP. Both parties are saying they will send the SDF abroad. I am disappointed with the DPJ.” I felt that the public follows political developments very well. The developments are shedding more light on the JCP, the party that defends the Constitution.

The JCP will of course cooperate with the DPJ based on the single agreed point of opposing the new special measures bill. At the same time, we will frankly criticize the DPJ. The JCP will assert that sending the SDF abroad is wrong and violates the Constitution, whatever form it may take.

Revenue source to support social welfare services, crucial issue in the upcoming discussions on economy

The moves towards consumption tax hikes are afoot within the government and ruling parties. In a recent Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy meeting, four private-sector members were blatant in pushing the demands of business circles. They came up with an estimate and asserted that unless deep cuts are made in the social welfare budgets, a large-scale consumption tax hike will become inevitable. This estimate took into account budget reductions only in social welfare programs and tax hikes only in the consumption tax in order to compel the public to accept consumption tax hikes. This proposal is outrageous in itself, but we must take it seriously because various arguments in favor of consumption tax hikes are put forward.

While sticking to the basic policy line of the “structural reform,” the Fukuda government and ruling parties have begun modifying their policies, including imposing a freeze on part of the increase in burdens on the public. The JCP in the Diet demanded that the government end its policy of cutting 220 billion yen in the natural increase in social welfare spending due to the aging of the population, a measure the government has implemented every year since 2001. In response, Welfare Minister Masuzoe Yoichi admitted that that policy has failed, stating, “It is no longer possible to maintain the 220 billion yen reduction ceiling.” At the same time, he said, “A consumption tax hike needs to be considered as an option.” While speaking as if they put the brakes on the “structural reform” policy line, the government and ruling parties are in fact saying, “Why not increase the consumption tax rate, then?”

The JCP has a strong argument to counter such calls in favor of regressive tax increases. The JCP is demanding a thorough review of excessive tax breaks for large corporations and the wealthy and of military expenditures, so that financial sources to support people’s livelihoods can be created without depending on an increase in the consumption tax rate. Using concrete data, the JCP squarely confronts arguments that regard consumption tax hikes as inevitable. Such discussions are in line with the JCP Program that calls for remaking the current political framework that defends the interests of large corporations and promotes further military buildup. Thus, these discussions are unique to the JCP.

In contrast, the DPJ has a serious weakness in its argument concerning financial resources. The DPJ says it will cut wasteful spending. Wasteful spending, needless to say, must be eradicated. However, if you are to look for stable resources to finance social welfare programs, you will not come up with a prospect unless you demand fundamental changes in policies such as drastically reviewing tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthy as well as the military budget. Whether or not a party can demand this has become a touchstone for the party. If the party fails to demand this, it will be driven into a corner and be compelled to accept consumption tax hikes as inevitable. The DPJ will not call for an end to excessive tax breaks for large corporations and the wealthy, and for cuts in military expenditure. Moreover, the DPJ has been from the beginning in favor of regressive tax hikes. The DPJ is simply saying it will not raise the consumption tax rate for the moment. This will turn out to be a great weakness for them. Whether the DPJ’s ability to secure the financial resources is feasible will soon be severely called into question.

Then, how can we financially support the social welfare programs? Whether a party can confront the government argument to resort to consumption tax hikes will become the focal point in the discussions leading to an upcoming general election. The JCP has a firm foothold to confront the government stance. In contrast, the DPJ lacks such a stance, although they say they will confront the government.

Time for the JCP to take the offensive

With the replacement of the Abe cabinet with the Fukuda cabinet, new characteristics are emerging in the move to establish a “two major party system.” While maintaining the basic LDP policies, the Fukuda cabinet is trying to distance itself from the pro-Yasukuni forces. Faced with severe public criticism, the Fukuda cabinet is attempting to gloss over problems in order to prolong the life of the LDP government. The DPJ, on the other hand, is trying to maintain its tactical “confrontation” with the LDP government, but this strategy is fraying and causing contradictions. In contrast, the JCP is capable of demanding fundamental changes based on the JCP Program and policies for remaking Japan, no matter who becomes our opponent.

Now is the time for the JCP to take the offensive. Let us put into practice the JCP Central Committee 5th Plenum decisions.

It is necessary to complete what needs to be done within a limited timeframe based on the assumption that a general election will be held by next spring. Making use of the lessons learned from the recent House of Councilors election, the JCP has a chance to achieve a major victory in the general election.
- Akahata, October 25, 2007
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