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We look to a bright future by understanding the political direction in general historical context

General election results and the role of the JCP as opposition party of constructive engagement

Speech by

SHII Kazuo, JCP Chair

At Public Assembly Marking 87th Anniversary of the Japanese Communist Party

September 9, 2009


Good evening everyone! I am Shii Kazuo of the Japanese Communist Party. Thank you all for joining us in this assembly to commemorate the founding anniversary of the JCP.

Let me begin by expressing our gratitude to all those who voted for the JCP and to all JCP Supporters' Association members as well as party members for their participation in our campaign waged in the mid-summer heat.

Today, I will talk about the results of the House of Representatives general election and the JCP's role after the election under the title, "We look to a bright future gained by an understanding of the political direction within a general historical context." I will be focusing on the general election results and the role of the JCP as an opposition party constructively engaging with the new government.

Results of the House of Representatives general election
--JCP put up a good fight, opening a new page in history

In the general election, we called on voters to force the Liberal Democratic and Komei parties out of power. The LDP lost two-thirds of its previous seats and secured only 119. Its coalition partner, the Komei Party, also decreased its number of seats to 21 from the previous 31. We welcome this outcome of the election as a major step forward in Japanese politics that opens a new page in history.

I think that we should see two important things in assessing the results of the general election.

LDP policies featuring two major political ills are on the verge of collapse

One is that the election did not just put an end to the LDP-Komei government, but it marked the beginning of a political process leading to an end of the LDP policy of defending the interests of the financial circles and the military alliance with the United States, which we call the two ills. The LDP rule has come to the point where it is no longer tenable and has fallen onto a path of disintegration. I want to emphasize that this is precisely what makes the general election historic.

The catch phrase "national prosperity depends on large corporations' prosperity" has been used to justify the government policy to defend the key interests of large corporations for more than a half century. What have been the consequences of this policy? There has been a sharp increase in unstable employment. One out of three working people are working part-time or temporary jobs, and half of the working youth and women are contingent workers. The number of working poor has reached 10 million. Social services are in crisis in all areas, including health care, pensions, nursing care for the elderly, and welfare services for the disabled. Agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and small businesses are declining. Regional economies and communities are falling into decay. A handful of large corporations have made huge profits, but the general public has been deprived of any sense of security. The main features of present-day society are widening economic inequalities and an ever increasing poverty rate. While large corporations are prospering, the nation is falling apart. LDP policies are primarily to blame for these problems. Even the mainstream media have acknowledged that the public's will as expressed in the general election was a severe criticism of the authoritarian behavior of large corporations. I have here with me an Asahi Shimbun clipping. It is the first of a series featuring how public figures are viewing the incoming government. Its theme is "financial circles and politics".

Interviewing Ohashi Mitsuo, an executive of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), the paper states, "The business circles have been closely involved in government decision-making processes under the long LDP rule. Shouldn't the LDP's crushing defeat be taken as criticism of the business circles?"

Mr. Ohashi says, "This is going to be an opportunity for Nippon Keidanren to know that that is the public view of the business sector and to make an effort to change itself. It is the power of the public that has compelled the nation's business organization to make self-criticism.

The real cause of the defeat of the LDP is in its policies that heavily assisted the financial circles and large corporations in maximizing their profits in disregard of the interests of working people and even at the cost of the well-being of the general public. Such policies are no longer acceptable to anyone. The financial circles and large corporations should be aware of this.

In the changing world, the thinking that the Japan-U.S. military alliance is essential and that military responses are more important than anything else in dealing with various affairs is no longer acceptable. At the National Press Club-sponsored pre-election debate on August 17, attended by political party leaders, there was a moment that made me feel acutely that the present government "has come to an end." Asked if it wasn't appropriate for the Japanese government to support the launching of the Iraq War, Prime Minister Aso not only refused to admit the error but went so far as to defiantly state that the war "produced certain favorable results."

However, we all know that the world has changed completely as far as this issue is concerned. Former U.S. President George W. Bush admitted that his greatest regret in office was the failure in the Iraq War. Barack Obama, who opposed the Iraq War, came to power as U.S. president. In Britain, Tony Blair, who joined with the United States to invade Iraq, was forced to resign. In Australia, then Prime Minister John Howard's party suffered a crushing defeat in the general election and surrendered power to Kevin Rudd's Labor Party, who began to pull Australian forces out of Iraq. All the "comrades in war" have left the stage supporting war. Despite these significant changes taking place in the world, there are people who cannot see them. How close-minded they are! The 21st century is not an era in which the sole superpower can control the world as its will. Obviously, continuing the military-first policy based on the military alliance and putting the major emphasis on military responses to world affairs is not something that the world can continue to accept.

Era of searching for new politics

The other is that the public's verdict in the election was not only the rejection of the LDP-Komei government, but a qualified "Yes" vote for the DPJ.

In an Asahi Shimbun survey conducted immediately after the general election, 52 percent of the respondents said that they do not think people chose to vote for the DPJ mainly because of its policies while only 38 percent said they think so. For example, only 31 percent said they support the DPJ proposal for the creation of child allowances in tandem with tax increases, including the abolition of the spouse deduction on taxable income. Although this was the main feature of the DPJ's campaign platform, 49 percent in the poll opposed the proposal. The DPJ's proposal for making the nation's expressways toll-free by using tax money was supported by only 20 percent of the respondents and opposed by 65 percent. In an opinion survey conducted during the election campaign, 80 percent said they feel uncertain about the fiscal resources the DPJ might need to implement its policy proposals. In sum, a majority of the public, fed up with the LDP-Komei policies, tends to bet on a DPJ-led government despite a lot of reservations about it.

In this respect, I have noted the following remark made by DPJ President Hatoyama as an honest statement. He stated it when the election results came to be known.

He said, "I do not take the election results simply as a victory of the Democratic Party. I think that public distrust of politics as well as its despair of and anger at the dysfunction of politics and administration have led to the high voter turnout."

I would like to urge the DPJ, which will soon come to power, to be humble enough to listen to the public as it runs the government.

When the LDP and Komei suffered a major defeat, failing to retain their majority in the July 2007 House of Councilors election, we said that this would pave the way for a new political process in a new era in which the people search for new politics to replace the LDP-Komei rule. The recent general election results show that such an era has come at last.

People's exploration of a new political process may entail various twists and turns as well as trial and error, but an effort to solve various problems in defense of people's livelihoods and world peace will necessarily require Japan to break away from the two evils, subservience to the financial circles and maintenance of the military alliance, and establish a new situation, in which the people are the protagonists. Let us keep advancing with this conviction.

JCP put up a good fight in the general election

In this historic election, the JCP defended and maintained its nine seats in the proportional representation blocs. With voter turnout rising compared to four years ago, the JCP polled 4,944,000, up from 4,919,000, although its vote share fell to 7.03 percent from the previous 7.25 percent. After the DPJ, the JCP was the only party to increase the number of votes obtained in the proportional representation blocs compared to the previous general election.

In this House of Representatives general election that opened doors to a new history in Japan, the JCP had to undergo an ordeal of exclusionism. The fury that raged during the election campaign at the LDP-Komei government was the source of the energy to enable progress in Japanese politics. We shared this current. At the same time, there was a major campaign asserting that the election was about choosing between the "two major parties." This campaign tempted many voters into throwing support behind the largest opposition Democratic Party. This tendency worked as a device hampering a JCP advance.

We obtained 4,940,000 votes in this fierce election campaign not only by winning an extra 20,000 votes. Exit polls show that 12 percent of JCP supporters voted for the DPJ in the proportional representation blocs. I do not think that these people turned away from the JCP. I think they were prompted to do so by the desire to kick out the LDP-Komei government. I hope they will continue to have expectations for the JCP. At the same time, more than a million people for the first time are believed to have voted for the JCP. We have heard many people, including those from the conservative constituency, say that they decided to vote for the JCP for the first time. I want to underline that this fierce battle and the strenuous efforts by JCP members as well as members of the JCP Supporters' Association, have contributed to obtaining an extra 20,000 votes.

Many of the 4,940,000 people who cast their votes for the JCP did so after reading and examining our election policies carefully. People received the JCP election policy platform we distributed during speeches in the streets. Everywhere throughout the country, we saw people reading the JCP "Manifesto" while listening to our speeches.

After the election, JCP headquarters received a lot of messages of encouragement. One said, "It was good that change of government took place. However, I am concerned about what will happen. Please monitor the new government as an opposition party constructively engaging with government affairs." This person apparently did not vote for the JCP, but he encouraged us. I believe that many of you feel that the number of people who share hopes for the future along with the JCP is increasing.

Given these severe circumstances, the JCP put up a good fight in defending and holding on to its seats by polling 4,940,000 votes, more than what we received in the previous general election. This was made possible by the effort to reach out to the public and share with as many people as possible common ground through publicity and discussions.

I think that it is particularly important that we achieved the present result on our own in cooperation with grassroots movements, not by passively relying on "favorable winds" to blow our way.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who voted for the JCP and who worked hard with us during the election campaign. I also want to thank all JCP candidates in single-seat constituencies as well as proportional representation blocs for their strenuous activities.

In this election campaign, we tried to do our utmost to reach out to voters to explain the JCP's role by making clear that it shares the anger at the LDP-Komei government policies and exploring together with them the new political direction of Japan. On July 16, we issued a JCP Executive Committee statement entitled, "Use the upcoming general election as an opportunity to choose a new direction for Japanese politics by forcing the LDP-Komei coalition out of power", and updated it according to changes in the political situation. I think that our campaign speeches and debates accurately responded to voters' sentiments.

By expressing the stance that the JCP will stand at the forefront of the struggle to drive the LDP-Komei government out of power, we were able to widen the scope of dialogue with voters. The JCP in its election platform called for two major objectives, the establishment of "an economy governed by rules" and an "independent diplomacy rejecting subservience to any foreign country." Thus, it was only the JCP that offered a clear vision for a future Japan no longer under the LDP-Komei rule.

During the campaign, we made it clear that, if the next government is led by the DPJ, we will work hard as "an opposition party constructively engaging" with it. This was received favorably by the public.

On an NHK program aired the day after the election, a political commentator said, "The JCP made a difference by welcoming U.S. President Obama's speech calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The JCP says it will become 'an opposition party of constructive engagement' and will judge the DPJ government for each policy it puts forward. We must keep an eye on the JCP." I hope that the media will indeed pay attention to our activities.

Our political campaign certainly served as the offensive appeal supporting the party's good fight.

'We could have won extra seats' -- The task now is to build a large JCP

Those who have fought in this election in various parts of the country say they feel good about having been able to defend the JCP seats in the House of Representatives. At the same time, there are some who say, "We could have won extra seats," and "It is regrettable that we were unable to increase the number of JCP seats." We share their feelings. It is true that we were unable to achieve our set goal and that we are not content with this result. The JCP Central Committee 9th Plenum in October will be a place for us to reflect on our election campaign and draw lessons from our experience.

I want to emphasize that with this recent general election, we are clearly on our way to become a stronger party. Since the JCP Central Committee 5th Plenum in September 2007, which drew lessons from the House of Councilors election in the same year, we have been at the forefront of the effort to increase social movements in various fields to meet the people's demands for jobs as well as for peace. We have promoted gatherings to explain the JCP Program to the public and together discuss Japan's future on the largest ever scale with about 900,000 people participating. While making efforts to increase the Akahata readership, we have put more energy into recruiting new party members. In the last two years 21,700 people have joined the JCP, and for 22 straight months, the total JCP membership has continued to increase. It is unquestionable that all of these efforts have become the basis for us to put up a good fight in the general election.

At the same time, the JCP Standing Executive Committee stated that the achievements made by these efforts so far are just at the beginning stages and are still developing in view of the need for us to make progress under any difficult circumstances. While I recognize that many people put up a good fight in the election, I must also say that we still need to be even more determined in order to win. This is the most important lesson for us to draw from the general election if we are to achieve a JCP advance in the next national election.

The role that the JCP should play in the emerging political situation will be more important than ever. We are determined to build a larger party to fulfill this task. I want to ask for your cooperation in this effort.

JCP in three historical periods

We are meeting today to commemorate the 87th anniversary of the founding of the Japanese Communist Party. So, I want to take a look at the present position of the JCP in the context of the post-war history of Japanese politics and try to envisage the future of the nation's politics.

The Liberal Democratic Party has retreated to become an opposition party after suffering a crushing defeat in the general election. This is the most historic event since its founding in 1955, except for its temporary surrender of power for about 10 months from 1993 to 1994 when it was replaced by a "non-LDP coalition government". Incidentally, Hatoyama Ichiro, Hatoyama Yukio's grandfather, was the founding president of the LDP in 1955. In the same year, the Socialist Party, which had been divided into the left group and the right group, was reunited. This political realignment was called by the mass media the "1955 system". That was the year when the JCP restored party unity after putting an end to the division associated with party interference from the Soviet Union. Let me talk about the JCP's position in the context of the history of Japanese politics since the founding of the LDP in 1955.

Roughly speaking, I think the last half century of Japanese politics can be divided into three periods.

In the period of confrontation between conservative forces and progressive forces, JCP advance contributed to exposing their collusive politicking

The first period was marked by a confrontation between the conservative forces and the progressive forces. The relationships between the ruling parties and the opposition parties in the early stages of this period were often referred to as the "1955 system". On the conservative side, that was the beginning of the long LDP government. The Socialist Party of Japan was described as the representative of the Opposition. The LDP and the SPJ appeared to be in sharp confrontation. However, the two camps had a cozy relationship behind closed doors.

A series of JCP advances in parliamentary elections during the period between the late 1960s and the early 1970s exposed this cozy relationship. The JCP and the joint progressives won 40 seats in the 1972 general election, making it impossible to continue politicking posh in restaurants. Until then, the LDP used to invite opposition party leaders to classy Japanese restaurants in the Akasaka district of Tokyo. On the day after the vote counting in the 1972 House of Representatives general election, Tokyo Shimbun reported that the LDP was afraid that the JCP would not accept its invitation to Akasaka restaurants. The headline of the article was "A JCP shock". Its subheading said, "Collusion and backdoor dealings rejected, and collusive politicking monitored". The article begins with a description of what a top leader of the LDP was saying. "First Deputy Secretary-General Takeshita Noboru said to a reporter close to him, 'I am totally perplexed.' He was at a loss when a major JCP advance, which was more than expected, turned out to be a hard fact." The article also stated, "Nights in Akasaka, things of the past for politicians?" The JCP advance caused such a great change.

In local politics, progressive local governments spread throughout the country to the point where they represented 43 percent of the total population. The progressive united front movement, which gained strength at local levels, also developed at the national level. The JCP and the SPJ concluded an agreement on a progressive united front on three occasions. These developments came as a great shock to the ruling forces as moves that could endanger the whole political establishment.

The indomitable JCP struggle during the period of offensives by forces of political reaction has relevance to our present struggle

The second period was one of counteroffensives by the forces of political reaction, followed by the emergence of all political parties, except for the JCP, as ruling parties." Alarmed by the rapid JCP advances, the ruling forces began an operation to isolate and completely silence the JCP in the mid-1970s, using anti-communist rhetoric. They falsely described the JCP as a "party of violence and dictatorship". They also used tactics to win the SPJ and the General Council of Trade Unions (Sohyo) over to their side in order to drive a wedge between parties participating in the progressive front. In 1980, the SPJ and the Komei Party concluded an agreement to exclude the JCP from any future coalition government. The agreement also confirmed their approval of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which created a decisive momentum to these changes. These developments were decisive in carrying out the anti-communist tactic of operation.   Later, the exclusion of the JCP was brought into all political spheres. The phrase "excluding the JCP" was always used by media reporting parliamentary news. In those days, when a TV news anchor used to refer to the JCP only when the news was about something done by all parties "except for the JCP".

Progressive local governments were destroyed one after another, and the system of "all are ruling parties except for the JCP" began to prevail in local politics across Japan. Even though the JCP was forced to suffer a certain setback, it maintained its foothold in national politics as well as its party strength, and unyieldingly faced up to the offensives. In the united front movement, we proposed a major policy of increasing cooperation between the JCP and non-partisan groups and individuals. This led to the founding of the National Forum for Peace, Democracy, and Progressive Change (Kakushinkon) in 1981. The movement is continuing to develop with a broad range of people participating and is showing its increased vitality.

At local government levels, new moves to create progressive democratic governments increased among the JCP and nonpartisan people. We see these moves continuing to develop, though with twists and turns, in several municipalities, including Komae City (Tokyo), Rikuzen-takata City (Iwate), and Warabi City (Saitama).

The significance of the struggle in the difficult period is seen clearer when we look back on it later.

The JCP's quest for new cooperation with conscientious people who are concerned about the future, unyielding to the tactics of excluding the JCP increased their underlying trust of the JCP and won new friends. I want to emphasize that most of what we are today is due to the unyielding struggle during this period.

People's struggles and the unstoppable JCP activities have exposed contradictions and rips in the "all-are-ruling-parties" scheme. In April 1989, when the consumption tax was introduced, public opposition shook the nation. In the Chiba gubernatorial election in March 1989 and the Nagoya mayoral election in April, the progressive candidates supported by the JCP polled more than 40 percent of the votes by campaigning against candidates backed by all parties except for the JCP. These high percentages shocked the ruling forces. The mass media at the time described the situation as a "seismic change".

The all-are-ruling-parties system appears to be powerful, but its fragility is exposed clearly when it fails. When it fails, only the JCP is left there to listen to people's voices of criticism. So the ruling forces began to perceive the fragility and limitations to the system. As a measure to make up for the limitations of the tactics to contain the JCP, the ruling forces began to adopt a new tactic. This was the move to establish a "two party" system as the basis of Japan's political framework.

JCP struggle against moves toward 'two-party' system

The third period is the period of the JCP struggle against the moves toward establishing a "two-party" system. It began in 1993. The moves were led by the financial circles, and carried out in tandem with a plan to introduce a single-seat constituency system. The ruling circles had two aims behind this move.

One was (and continues to be) to establish a "two-party" system that will allow change of power only within the LDP's political framework and thereby make two parties vie with one another, with a view to prolonging the LDP rule which was in crisis.

The other aim is to totally shut out the JCP from the Japanese political scene and possibly to destroy the JCP by using dual tactics of introducing a single-seat constituency system and pushing the propaganda that there is no choice other than the two major parties.

Have the ruling circles achieved these aims?

In retrospect, it is clear that the moves toward establishing a "two-party" system had to change their approach as the no-way-out situation of the decline in LDP government deepened. In my opinion, the moves toward a "two-party" system can be seen in three stages, by using the House of Representatives elections directly affecting political power as a benchmark. Where the JCP stands now is the historical consequence of how it has been in the past.

1993 general election -- Continuation of LDP government pledged

The first stage was the House of Representatives general election in 1993, when the move to set up a "two-party" system emerged.

At that time, the various corruption scandals such as the Recruit Cosmos scandal, and rigged bids by general contractor construction companies, revealed the LDP as grossly tainted by money power corruption. Thinking that the LDP cannot win people's support, some LDP members spun off from the LDP and formed a "non-LDP" coalition with the Socialist Party, the Komei Party, and the Democratic Socialist Party, forcing on the people a false choice between the LDP and the non-LDP. "LDP or non-LDP" worked as the popular catchword of the time. Such a climate caused a fierce wind blowing against the JCP.

The 1993 general election was the first national election for me to run as a JCP candidate from former Chiba No. 1 constituency. The strong wind against the JCP and the fact that I was a lesser-known candidate made media forecasters say that my gaining office was "hopeless". However, the election turned out to be a memorable one for me, as I was elected with significant help from JCP supporters in the constituency and all over the country.

During the election campaign, a TV interviewer asked me, "Which are you for, LDP or non-LDP? Isn't the JCP left out of the political inner circle?" I replied, "Being inside the inner circle is the problem. Inside there are money-tainted bugs and mosquitoes thirsty for blood from a consumption tax increase. I will gladly stay out of the dirty inner circle."

The first statement announced by the non-LDP coalition government formed as a result of the election was one of publicly declaring that it will continue with the LDP government's basic policies of the past. In fact, the non-LDP government outdid the LDP in carrying out undemocratic policies, such as the introduction of a single-seat constituency system and government subsidies to political parties, liberalizing rice imports, and a late night announcement of a plan to increase the consumption tax.

The "two-party" doctrine of this period was marked by a brazen slogan that "All will go well, since the change of government remains within the LDP political framework". Although the LDP government was seriously declining in power, it still retained a certain amount of strength to support such an assertion.

However, the "non-LDP" government faced people's criticism, and it collapsed after its internal contradictions surfaced. Moves toward a "two-party system" continued, as seen in a plan to set up the New Frontier Party (Shinshinto). All these attempts ended up in failure. This was followed by repeated splits and mergers of parties. Against this backdrop, public trust and support of the JCP for its consistency suddenly increased, and the JCP in national elections in the latter half of the 1990s made a great advance. The JCP got 7,260,000 votes in the 1996 House of Representatives general election and 8,200,000 votes in the 1998 House of Councilors election. Such record votes showed that the JCP choice of staying out of the dirty inner circle was more than appropriate. The series of advances showed how important it is for the JCP to always stand up for the people and their interests.

2003 general election -- Big business masterminds 'two-party system' and rivalry

The second stage began from the 2003 general election.

The JCP advances in the late 1990s gave a sense of crisis to the financial circles. They were alarmed by a possible calamity for Japan if the JCP was allowed to develop as such. They thought that politicians should no longer be left in charge of the matter, and that large corporations must directly control the situation and set up a mechanism of a "two-party system". Thus, the 2003 general election was the first occasion in which the moves for a "two-party system" were under the control of the financial circles.

The Japanese Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai) was the first script writer. In October 2002, it published the following proposals: (1) Electoral methods need to shift to a choice over government power in which the party in power confronts the largest opposition party; (2) Proportional representation component should be eliminated to make the electoral system consist exclusively of a single-seat constituency system.

Next, the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) began to be the mastermind behind the scheme. In its proposal published in January 2003, the federation gave a command to set up a "two-party system", stating, "The alternative party should grow out of being a mere critical force against the government and the ruling parties, and acquire competence to replace the government any time and win people's trust."

In July 2003, an agreement of a merger between the former Democratic Party and the Liberal Party was announced. The script writer was the financial circles as before. In September of the same year, a new system of political funds was introduced. It was a system of brazen policy-buying in which Nippon Keidanren decides how much they donate to political parties according to its assessment of how much a party agrees to Keidanren's one-sided political requests.

Thus, an arrangement was set up in advance with an all-out effort of the financial circles as the script writer, and in the unprecedented campaigns for the 2003 general election, voters were forced to choose between the LDP or the DPJ, both under the complete control of the financial circles. Though the JCP resolutely fought back by critically analyzing the sudden change of the political map, it was obliged to suffer a setback.

In retrospect, it is clear that the 2003 general election was one in which the financial circles had a complete command over both the LDP and the DPJ. On the surface, the two parties were confrontational. However, both parties called for a consumption tax increase and constitutional revision, even vying with one another over how far they would go. The 2003 election was marked by the two parties' rivalry for undemocratic government under the control of the financial circles.

This is clear from rereading the DPJ manifesto which it published at the time. It had no action plan to replace the LDP-Komei government. Instead, it stated as follows:

 "If a change of government takes place, Japan will enter an era of a two-party system in full gear. The LDP will be forced to reform itself, and party-based politics in Japan will be fully developed into one worthy of the 21st century."

Thus, the goal was to set up a two-party system capable of taking turns in power. In this design, the LDP was not the party to overcome but a key partner of a two-party system.

However, contradictions between the people and the LDP government have become more serious than before. Japanese politics came to a stage in which the past political methods do no good at all.

'End LDP-Komei government' was our main task in 2009 general election

The 2009 House of Representatives general election marks the third stage.

The LDP-Komei coalition government's "structural reform" policy only increased the poverty rate and widened the social gap all over Japan. At the same time, the LDP rule underwent a rapidly declining process. In the 2005 general election, the LDP focused on the "postal privatization" issue and survived its crisis thanks to then Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro's deceptive slogan calling for the LDP to be destroyed. Nevertheless, the clearer the LDP's deception and lies became, the further the LDP ran down the slope toward its final collapse by rapidly losing public support.

The Democratic Party was forced to review its approach of competing with the LDP for the capability to implement policies that both parties call for in common, as it did in the 2003 general election. The DPJ appeared in the recent general election by declaring a tougher "confrontation" with the LDP by saying that "Japan needs a regime." In its "2009 Manifesto" the DPJ called for an "end to the old political structure that forces the public to suffer," meaning an end to "old politics led by the bureaucracy". For all its insufficiency, it should be noted that the DPJ has had to publicly state that it will "oppose" the "old political system." This change came as the LDP government was deepening the process of its rapid decline as well as a drastic increase in public criticism of and anger at this government.

The DPJ's major policies, along with the call "End the LDP-Komei government," take on two new aspects: "competition" with the LDP in a declining process and the offer of some policies that reflect the demands of the public.

For example, these new DPJ policies include a call for a 25 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions, a strong mid-term goal, which contradicts the business circles' proposals. Amid the political attempt to establish a "two-party system" under the business circles' direction, a new situation has emerged that goes beyond their original scheme and in certain respects far beyond their expectations.

A new situation emerged contrary to what the business circles had expected 

Thus, the emerging situation was what the business circles had not expected.

First, let's look at the consequence of the attempt to establish a "two-party" structure aimed at allowing the LDP-led government to survive. Far from "surviving," the very structure of the LDP government, which was to be the main part of the two-party system, began to collapse.

The decline was so steep that some mass media even encouraged the LDP to "rebuild itself as an opposition party." No one knows whether it can be rebuilt. Some business leaders are saying that the LDP should do its part as an opposition party constructively engaging with the government. However, it will not be easy for the LDP to act constructively as an opposition party.

The LDP is so confused at this point that its members are divided over who to vote for in the election of the next prime minister at the upcoming Special Session of the Diet. The LDP's political and organizational disintegration is very serious. Despite the "two-party system" campaign, the business circles have driven the LDP, one of the "two major parties", into a quagmire, which will mean the demise of the LDP itself.

Second, what about the business circles' attempt to isolate the Japanese Communist Party, its activities, and even its existence? It failed. In all the four general elections since 2003, when the drive in favor of a "two-party" system was launched, the JCP succeeded in getting more than four millions votes, and in the recent general election, it came close to obtaining five million votes.

When the JCP successfully maintained its footholds in these national elections by displaying its bold fighting spirit meant that the business circles' failed to oust the party from political arena, Japan's ruling class has had to admit that they made their greatest mistake. This is the point that I want to stress.

The LDP, the party they wanted to survive, is on the brink of collapse, while the JCP, the party they wanted to disappear, is increasing its strength and is full of energy. Note that public criticisms are now being focused on the business circles, in addition to the LDP, for its high-handedly anti-people campaign. Isn't this an ironical and wonderful of events?

Friends! Who have helped to bring about such drastic changes? None other than the general public who have been hit hard and damaged in many ways by the LDP government; the public struggling for better living conditions and peace in Japan and the JCP struggling undauntedly in solidarity with the people.

Again in view of these historical developments, the JCP's fight in the latest general election bears a great historical meaning.

Japan's bright future largely hinges on JCP's development

In these three periods since 1955, the JCP has undauntedly struggled, overcoming all the forms of suppression launched by the ruling class that regarded the JCP as the bitter enemy.

We can say with conviction that these JCP efforts formed the decisive factor that drove the LDP rule to its demise.

We must further struggle against the scheme to establish the "two major parties system." They are still attempting to eliminate the JCP from Japan's political arena. It is no exaggeration to say that the outcome of this engagement will greatly affect Japan's future.

I again emphasize that the JCP's existence and support at the grassroots level as well as its persistent existence in the national political arena will decisively affect Japan's future course.

Outlook for Future -- How we achieve political advances in Japan

Let me move on to issues regarding our future.

The DPJ-led government will take office after the election of a prime minister at the Special Session of the Diet to be convened on September 16. Under the new government, the JCP will strive to further advance Japanese politics by acting as an opposition party constructively engaging with the government. That was what we promised during the election campaign.

What we mean by 'opposition party of constructive engagement'

-- We will work under the new government in state of transition (to push ahead with agenda contributing to social progress

Let me first expound on the meaning of our declaration that we will be an opposition party constructively engaging with the new government.

The DPJ took power through a campaign calling for "an end to the LDP-Komei coalition government" and "an end to the outdated structure." Under this circumstance, the policies as well as the basic line of the DPJ take on a transient character.

Judging from its present policies as well as its basic line, there are no signs at present that the DPJ is breaking away from the two political ills: politics in the interests of the financial circles and in defense of the military alliance with the United States. It is also acting in conflict with public interests on several issues. Yet the DPJ has put forward some policies that reflect the needs of the public. We are witnessing the birth of a kind of government with a transient character.

I want to stress that this can be seen in the historical context as a new phase in Japanese politics reached by people's demand and movements and by the struggle of the JCP in the face of the decline and collapse of the LDP rule. In furthering this emerging political development, the key is, again, people's demands and movements as well as the struggle of the JCP!

In the face of this new stage of political development in Japan, we have made clear our position of contributing to social progress by describing the JCP as an "opposition party of constructive engagement."

What does the opposition party of constructive engagement intend to do? We are promising to address the following two tasks:

We will work to contribute to making advances in actual politics in order to realize the needs of the public

One is to advance actual politics in order to realize the needs of the public. Under the government led by the DPJ, we will make concrete policy proposals. We will cooperate with the government in implementing policies that are in the public interest, but will oppose any policies that are not and make efforts to change them.

We are 'ready to cooperate with the government in the implementation of policies that are in the interests of the public' and we count on people's struggles to accomplish this

Regarding our position that we will cooperate with the government in implementing policies that are in the interests of the public, there are a number of issues which we have consistently advocated.

There are a number of issues that have important bearings on people's livelihoods. They include the fundamental revision of the Worker Dispatch Law; the abolition of the health insurance system discriminating against the elderly aged 75 and older; the elimination of the system of requiring disabled persons to pay excessively high costs under the Services and Supports for Persons with Disabilities Act; restoration of additional welfare benefits for single-mother households that are on welfare assistance; making high school education tuition-fee; introduction of a student scholarship system that does not require repayment; and raising the statutory minimum wage to at least 1,000 yen.

The DPJ "Manifesto" contains demands which we can support. The JCP is ready to cooperate with the new government on these issues. We will propose amendments to the DPJ's policy proposals wherever it is necessary to request their implementation in a better form.

I want to emphasize that the JCP and the popular movements have been pushing for these issues to be treated as actual political agenda items and that the party should make efforts in cooperation with the public to fulfill these tasks.

For example, in dealing with the issue of the Worker Dispatch Law, the JCP was the only party to oppose the major adverse revision of the law in 1999 to remove restrictions on the use of temporary workers. We have been calling for the reregulation of the labor laws. It was the struggle of workers and the general public that pushed the DPJ to propose revising the labor laws to reverse the deregulation, typically implemented by the Worker Dispatch Law, and strengthen regulation. Business leaders are already resisting the proposal for revising the Workers Dispatch Law by stating, "We feel incongruous about it." I call for the struggle of workers and people to be further increased to win a fundamental revision of the Worker Dispatch Law.

There are many issues that ought to be included in DPJ policies because they reflect urgent demands of the public that have serious bearings on people's livelihoods. We would like to call for a nationwide movement to be launched to press the new government to carry out such demands.

For instance, the JCP has proposed establishing a national system to enable the elderly and children to receive free medical treatment. This proposal has received broad support. But this is not on the DPJ policy agenda. Reduction of fees to be paid by patients for medical services they receive is a national demand supported by the health care community, including the Japan Medical Association. I want to call on you to exercise the power of people's solidarity to press the government to implement this urgent demand.

We say 'No' to policies imposed on the public under the initiative of the financial circles

As regards our position of opposing any policies that are not in the public interest, during the election campaign we severely criticized the DPJ "Manifesto" for including several adverse policies, including the call for talks with the United States aimed at concluding a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) that would devastate Japan's agriculture, in particular rice, a cut in the number of House of Representatives proportional representation seats that would bar the voices of the majority of the public from being heard by the Diet, a consumption tax increase, and revision of Article 9 of the Constitution. These policies will threaten people's livelihoods, democracy, and world peace. We have promised to fight to prevent these moves from developing.  In this regard, I want you to keep in mind that these adverse policies were not put forward based on people's demands but on the initiative of the financial circles.

For example, the DPJ is calling for reducing the number of the House of Representatives proportional representation seats by 80. It first included this proposal in its election manifesto in the 2003 House of Representatives general election, in which there was an extensive campaign to force voters to choose a governing party, a campaign manipulated by the financial circles. That was in response to the proposal of the Japanese Association of Corporate Executives for "reform to establish a single-seat constituency system."

In dealing with the adverse policy proposals which we cannot overlook, we must take on the financial circles. This is why we are emphasizing that the need now is to increase a full-fledged people's struggle to defeat these plans. In this struggle, the Japanese Communist Party is called upon to play a role of "mediator in the public interest". We are fully aware of this task.

We will call for nationwide discussions aimed at helping to correct any inappropriateness that might occur

In our effort to influence DPJ-led government policies, we will take issue with the DPJ proposal for the nation's expressways to be made toll-free and for child allowances to be initiated. As these are major public concerns, I believe that they should be brought to a national discussion to make clear to everyone the issues involved.

For example, on the proposal for the expressways to be made toll-free, we will scrutinize this based on facts and reason to find whether it is an appropriate prioritization of the use of tax money and whether it will have an adverse environmental impact. We are demanding that priority should be given to improving welfare services rather than making expressways toll-free.

As for the child allowances program, the problem is not just that it is proposed in tandem with the abolition of dependant and spouse deductions of taxable income. Fundamentally, it conflicts with the democratic principle of taxation: no tax on the cost of living. We agree with the idea of expanding in an appropriate way benefits in support of child rearing. However, we disagree with the proposal for implementing it while forcing ordinary people to pay more in taxes. We will discuss the issue publicly and put forward policies for comprehensive support for child care, which will include improvement in work environments that will allow parents to continue to work wile bringing up children and the fundamental increase in the number of licensed child care centers that will help to reduce the number of children on waiting lists to make use of child care centers.

A great majority of the public is concerned about the question of fiscal resources that would secure the implementation of policies to be implemented by the DPJ-led government. During the election campaign, we said to voters that the key to resolving the issue of fiscal resources is whether the government will no longer exclude the military budget and tax breaks for large corporations and the wealthy from budget cuts. Looking back on the election campaign, the media several times reported the JCP position on this issue favorably as a reasoned demand. On the BS 11 program on the evening of August 6 when I explained the JCP's view regarding how to secure revenues, Suzuki Tetsuo, the newsroom director of the TV station, said, "That indeed features the JCP position and is very clear to us."

On TV Asahi's Hodo (News) Station program on August 20 evening, the anchor, Furutachi Ichiro, kindly explained the JCP position calling for ending excessive tax breaks for large corporations and cutting the military budget. Saying, "This position is precisely what the JCP is about," Furutachi asked me several questions regarding specific measure which the JCP is proposing.

Friends, let us be confident in the fact that the JCP's proposal for securing ways and means to improve the public welfare convincing enough to capture the hearts of the public. Let us explain clearly to the public that we can secure fiscal revenues even without resorting to a consumption tax increase and can then further develop the nationwide movement to block a consumption tax increase.

JCP will work to correct political distortions and establish principle that 'people are the protagonists'

The other task of the JCP as an opposition party of constructive engagement is to correct distortions in Japanese politics and establish the principle that "people are the protagonists." The DPJ-led government is called upon to address two issues regarding Japan's political direction.

Can new government break away with policies primarily serving the interests of business circles? This may be tested on every individual issue

One issue concerns whether or not Japan can abandon its policies centred on the interests of business circles.

At the debate by six party leaders at the Japan National Press Club on the eve of the official start of the House of the Representatives general election campaign, I asked DPJ President Hatoyama, "Does the DPJ have the willingness to break with politics directed by the business circles?" I said to him that any efforts to defend people's livelihoods will have to face up to negative policies led by business circles that have led to the collapse of the labor market, cutbacks in welfare services, and the plan to raise the consumption tax rate. Hatoyama just said, "People in the business sector are not homogenous."

At the same time, some contradictions have emerged between the DPJ and business circles. Business circles have already put up strong resistance to the proposal for the Worker Dispatch Law to be revised. In its "Manifesto," the DPJ clearly called for greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 as Japan's mid-term goal. Based on this promise, Hatoyama said he will declare this mid-term reduction target as Japan's new goal at the U.N. Summit on Climate Change to be held after taking office as Prime Minister. I welcome this announcement.

On this issue, Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) leaders have expressed their concern. They have been saying, "The public will be forced to pay the enormous cost." They are afraid that it "would be disastrous if Japan internationally promises this goal." And now, in response to Mr. Hatoyama's statement, he has met criticism from some business leaders, who are saying, "From the viewpoint of the business sector, setting a target for a 25 percent reduction is absurd. It obviously goes against the national interest."

The implementation of the target will require a struggle against the fierce resistance from the business circles.

In the course of the implementation of each policy it promised, the question is whether the new government can break with the policy of primarily serving the business circles.

Under these circumstances, we will firmly stand for the JCP program stating that Japan must move away from policies serving the interest of the business circles and large corporations and establish an "economy governed by rules." I want to express our resolve to seek an alternative policy that will benefit the public and try to achieve it together.

Reconsidering relationships with the United States

The other thing we should consider in connection with our task as the opposition party of constructive engagement concerns Japan's relationship with the United States.

Today, major changes are taking place in the world and are influencing the United States. Under these circumstances, we promise to make a great deal of effort to contribute to peace in the world and Japan. Based on the Program of the JCP, which takes into account the various interests of the U.S., we will help promote positive changes while strongly criticising any aspects that remain unchanged that are associated with U.S. hegemony.

The JCP's actions regarding the issue of nuclear weapons have been devoted to encouraging the positive changes that have taken place in the United States. Welcoming U.S. President Obama's speech in Prague in April, in which he stated that he will " seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," I wrote him a letter requesting that the United States take the initiative for starting international negotiations aimed at abolishing nuclear weapons. We received a positive response from the U.S. government. This exchange of letters has made us realise that significant changes are underway in the United States.

The task of the global movement for the abolition of nuclear weapons is to increase the call and the movement calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons as much as possible toward the NPT Review Conference due to open on May 3, 2010. The JCP will do its best to broaden public support in Japan, the only atomic-bombed country, to eliminate nuclear weapons, and will continue to make an effort to place the elimination of nuclear weapons as one of the main agenda items in opposition party diplomacy.

In this regard, I want to report to you that I will participate in the 5th General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan, Central Asia, from September 24-26. Kazakhstan was a republic of the former Soviet Union and at the time, Semipalatinsk, in the eastern part of the country was used as a nuclear test-site and this inflicted severe suffering on the people caused by radiation. From this painful experience, soon after its independence, Kazakhstan closed the nuclear test sites and renounced nuclear weapons. At the conference to be held in that country, I will talk with other state representatives about cooperation for peace in Asia and in the world, including the issue of abolishing nuclear weapons. The world is changing rapidly. Let us continue to fight in Japan as well as throughout the world for a "world without nuclear weapons."

DPJ must clarify its call for Japan-US relations on an 'equal footing' regarding specific issues

The DPJ-led government is called upon to clarify how it will deal with the United States. The DPJ "Manifesto" states that it will "build a close and equal Japan-U.S. relationship" and this position will be judged in the light of several specific issues.

Regarding the issue of nuclear weapons, the question will be what the DPJ-led government will do vis-?-vis the Japan-U.S. secret agreement and the need for a "nuclear umbrella" argument.

This secret agreement allows U.S. military vessels or aircraft carrying nuclear weapons to enter Japanese territory without prior consultation with the Japanese government. It became a major point of contention during the election campaign. I have here photocopies concerning the secret agreement, which the JCP had discovered in the U.S. They are official documents that have been made available to the public by the U.S. government. Showing these copies on a TV debate program, I said to Prime Minister Aso that he should make public the secret agreement and abrogate it. However, Mr. Aso only said, "There is no secret agreement. " But I said, "Despite your denial, it is a fact that I have it here in my hand." Though he still kept saying "no," this was complete nonsense.

Responding to my question, DPJ President Hatoyama made the following remarks about his party's position on the agreement.

He replied, "The existence (of the secret nuclear agreement) is highly probable. We will conduct an investigation into the facts in the United States and will explain to the public our findings at an appropriate time. We will also persuade U.S. President Obama to promise that the U.S. will not bring nuclear weapons into Japan.

This is an important statement. I will urge him to act as he promised. We are ready to cooperate with the DPJ by providing them with the relevant documents that we have.

At the same time, DPJ President Hatoyama in the debate stated, "I have no intention to demand that Japan break away from the 'nuclear umbrella' policy immediately." The 'Nuclear umbrella' is a concept of defending the country's security by using another country's threat of possible nuclear attack against aggression. This is based on the idea that is "security provided by threat." This logic is also based on the premise that nuclear weapons can be used in a crisis situation, since we cannot use nuclear weapons as a threat without denying their use. Japan is a country that, by experience, should know better than any other country how inhumane nuclear weapons are. Therefore, it is obviously wrong that Japan sticks to nuclear weapons as a means of threat based on the threat of use of nuclear weapons. The logic of "nuclear deterrence" and "nuclear umbrella" is the biggest cause of nuclear proliferation because countries that are threatened by nuclear weapons states try to acquire them based on the same logic.

During the era of U.S.-Soviet confrontation, quite a few countries in the world depended on the so called "nuclear umbrella." After the dissolution and contraction of military alliances, the number of countries protected by a "nuclear umbrella" has been reduced to only a few among 192 U.N. member states. I have to state clearly that it is a move against the elimination of nuclear weapons for Japan, the A-bombed county, to ask not to "fold" the "umbrella" while most of the countries in the world are asking to have it folded because it is dangerous.

I want to stress that Japan should disclose the secret agreement, break away from the "nuclear umbrella" policy, and become a non-nuclear Japan in both name and reality. I must stress that only this will enable Japan, the A-bombed country, to lead the global movement to eliminate nuclear weapons.

The new government will also be tested in regard to the issue of U.S. military bases in Japan. On a debate program with other party leaders on a commercial TV station, DPJ President Hatoyama made a comment about the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Okinawa, stating, "To relocate the base outside of Okinawa or outside Japan is best." So I called on Mr. Hatoyama to implement the unconditional withdrawal of Japan from the 1996 SACO (Japan-U.S. Special Action Committee on Okinawa) agreement, which agrees to relocate U.S. military bases within Okinawa Prefecture. However, I couldn't receive a clear response from him. If Mr. Hatoyama supports the relocation of the base outside Okinawa or Japan, I suggest that it is necessary to revise and abrogate the SACO agreement.

In addition, the new government needs to deal with the question about dispatching Self Defence Forces abroad. With regard to the SDF mission for supporting the war in Afghanistan led by the U.S., DPJ President Hatoyama said, "The SDF mission in the Indian Ocean will not be extended after January next year." This public promise will also be questioned later. The JCP, on the other hand, strongly calls for an immediate pullout of the SDF and a complete end to Japan's military engagement in Afghanistan.

The DPJ's position on foreign relations, which states, "The Japan-U.S. alliance" is "the foundation of Japan's foreign policy," is the root cause of these series of contradictions and problems. Is it possible for this DPJ position and its pledge of an "equal Japan-U.S. relationship" to go together? I believe that the two positions are completely inconsistent.

The position of the JCP Program is clear. It promises to struggle to form a consensus for the abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, leading to the building of a peaceful environment in Asia and the world through a peace diplomacy based on Article 9 of the Constitution. On this basis, we can build a new Japan that will contribute to peace in Asia and the world. Concerning the Japan U.S. relationship, this stance guarantees bilateral friendship and cooperation on an equal footing and helps establish a Japan-U.S relationship which can contribute to the benefit of the world.

Party acting as a pioneer\ The time has come for the JCP to play its full role

Friends, under the new political circumstances, only the JCP can take up the following two missions: the mission to actually move Japanese politics forward by encouraging the new government to serve the public interest, and the mission to correct Japan's political distortions.

Whether or not we can achieve political progress after the fall of the LDP-Komei coalition government and help to brighten Japan's future depends on our continued struggle. We express our determination as an "opposition party of constructive engagement" to address any new challenges, and to start new explorations and missions under the new circumstances.

Following the end of the LDP-Komei coalition government that the Japanese people have achieved, a new and exciting history has begun in which people can foster further progressive changes in politics. The time has come when the JCP can play its full role as a pioneer in creating history.

Friends, firmly based on the result of the general election and fostering the move towards a new Japan together with the people, let us achieve our major goal to establish a democratic coalition government early on in the 21st century, in which the people will be the key players.

Conclusion: Join the JCP, a party capable of responding to people's call for assistance

In this assembly, we tried to together think about the future of Japan by confirming our historical stage of achievement. I acutely feel that our Party Program, which provides us with a firm compass that shows the possible direction of Japan, ensures that we can confirm the exact position on which we stand and shows the direction we should take in defiance of any upheaval in the situation.

At the same time, the grassroots efforts by more than 400,000 party members and more than 22,000 party branches throughout the country are firmly united by the Program of the JCP, and are exerting increasing power. Shortly before the official start of the election campaign, a journalist said to me: "The Japanese Communist Party is the only party that can recognize the needs of suffering people. No other party can do that."

He is right, indeed.

Many temporary workers have been thrown out in the street after being laid off. Many single-mothers are working hard by having two or three jobs in order to rear their children. In mountain villages, old residents find it very difficult to continue farming the land which they inherited from their ancestors.  Many young people are saddened to see their friends quit school because of excessively high tuition fees. At a time when so many people are suffering and calling out for assistance, the JCP has grassroots activists who are working to reduce their hardships everywhere throughout the country. This is our biggest pride.

In conclusion, I would like to call on all those who have supported the JCP to join the party. Join the JCP and you will find it worthwhile to move into the future of hope with the JCP. This is what I acutely feel now, and I am sure that many other party members, the older, more experienced and young alike, will share this sentiment. I call on you to join us in the movement for progressive social change.

Friends, people united in struggle are the driving force behind the making of history. This is the 87th year since the founding of the JCP. Let us build an even larger JCP, the party which has been striving as a pioneer in history, stronger and more influential than ever.

Long live the 87th anniversary of the Japanese Communist Party. Thank you.

- Akahata, September 11, 2009

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