Japanese Communist Party
|Representatives leader||Keiji Kokuta|
|Councillors leader||Yoshiki Yamashita|
|Founded||15 July 1922|
|Headquarters||4-26-7 Sendagaya, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-8586, Japan|
|Youth wing||Democratic Youth League of Japan|
12 / 465
13 / 245
|Prefectural assembly members|
149 / 2,614
|Municipal assembly members|
2,605 / 30,101
The JCP advocates the establishment of a society based on socialism, democracy, peace and opposition to militarism. It proposes to achieve its objectives by working within a democratic framework in order to achieve its goals while struggling against what it describes as "imperialism and its subordinate ally, monopoly capital". The party does not advocate violent revolution, instead it proposes a "democratic revolution" to achieve "democratic change in politics and the economy" and "the complete restoration of Japan's national sovereignty", which it sees as infringed by Japan's security alliance with the United States, although it firmly defends Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution due to its opposition of the re-militarization of Japan.
Following the most recent councillors election held on 21 July 2019, the party holds 13 seats in the House of Councillors. Following the most recent general election held on 22 October 2017, the party holds 12 seats in the House of Representatives.
The JCP is one of the largest non-ruling communist parties in the world, with approximately 305,000 members belonging to 20,000 branches. In the wake of the Sino-Soviet split, the party began to distance itself from the Eastern Bloc, especially from the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the JCP released a press statement titled: "We welcome the end of a party which embodied the historical evil of Great power chauvinism and hegemonism" (Japanese: 「大国主義・覇権主義の歴史的巨悪の党の終焉を歓迎する」), while at the same time criticizing Eastern European countries for abandoning socialism, describing it as a "reversal of history".
Consequently, the party has not suffered an internal crisis as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, nor has it considered disbanding or changing its name or fundamental objectives, as many other Communist parties have done. It polled 11.3% of the vote in 2000, 8.2% in 2003, 7.3% in 2005, 7.0% in the August 2009 election and 6.2% in 2012. In recent years its support has accrued, but as of the 2014 General Election it won 21 seats, up from eight in the previous general election. The JCP took 7,040,130 votes (13.3%) in the constituency section and 6,062,962 (11.37%) in the party lists. This continues a new wave of support that was also evident in the 2013 Tokyo metropolitan election where the party doubled its representation. Fighting on a platform directly opposed to neoliberalism, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), attempts to rewrite the constitution, U.S. military bases on Japanese soil and nuclear power, the JCP tapped into a minority current that seeks an alternative to Japan's rightward direction.
In January 2014, the JCP had approximately 320,000 members. Following the party's advancement in the 2013 Tokyo prefectural election, there had been an increase in membership growth, with over 1,000 people joining in each of the final three months of 2013. Approximately 20% of new members during this period were aged 20–40, showing a higher ratio of young people joining the party than in the past.
The Japanese Communist Party was founded on 15 July 1922. Its early leadership was drawn from the anarcho-syndicalist and Christian socialist movements that developed around the turn of the century. From the former came Yamakawa Hitoshi, Sakai Toshihiko, and Arahata Kanson, who had all been supporters of Kōtoku Shūsui, an anarchist executed in 1911. Katayama Sen, another early leader, had been a Christian socialist for much of his political life. These backgrounds in non-Marxist ideologies would have an impact on the party almost immediately, one that would make it susceptible to Stalinism, nationalism, and other non-Marxist political trends later. The three former anarchists were reluctant to found the JCP, with Yamakawa shortly after arguing that Japan was not ready for a communist party and calling for work to be done solely within labor unions. Katayama's theoretical understanding of Marxism also remained low.
The JCP was founded as an underground political association. Outlawed at once under the Peace Preservation Law, the JCP was subjected to repression and persecution by the military and police of Imperial Japan. The party was legalised during the American occupation of Japan in 1945 and since then has been a legal political party able to contest elections. In 1949, the party made unprecedented gains by winning 10 percent of the vote and sent 35 representatives to the Diet, but early in 1950 the Soviet Union sharply criticized the JCP's parliamentary strategy. Stalin insisted that the JCP pursue more militant, even violent, actions. The Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) seized this occasion to engineer the Red Purge, which forced the party leaders underground. Then after the Korean War broke out, the party staged some acts of terrorism or sabotage, which resulted in a loss of popular confidence. Through the end of the decade, it never won more than three percent of the votes or two seats in the Diet. Even so, its strong support among many intellectuals gave it a relatively greater importance than these numbers suggest.
The party did not take sides during the Sino-Soviet split of the 1960s. In the mid-1960s, the United States Department of State estimated the party membership to be approximately 120,000 (0.2% of the working age population). Its politics were independent of the Soviet Union. Reflecting this, its leader from 1958 to 1982, Kenji Miyamoto, opposed the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Lam Peng Er argued in Pacific Affairs in 1996 that "the JCP's viability is crucial to the health of Japanese democracy" and says this is because:
It is the only established party in parliament that has not been coopted by the conservative parties. It performs the watchdog role against the ruling parties without fear or favor. More importantly, the JCP often offers the only opposition candidate in prefectural governorship, city mayoral and other local elections. Despite the ostensible differences between the non-Communist parties at the national level, they often support a joint candidate for governor or mayor so that all parties are assured of being part of the ruling coalition. If the JCP did not offer a candidate, there would be a walkover and Japanese voters would be offered a fait accompli without an electoral avenue of protest. Promoting women candidates in elections to win women's votes is another characteristic of the party. More women are elected under the Communist label than other political parties in Japan.
In 2008, foreign media recorded an increase in support for the party due to the effect of the global financial crisis on Japanese workers. However, the party failed to increase its number of seats in the 2009 general election. Subsequently, the projected decline of the party was halted, with the JCP becoming the third largest party in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly and making gains in the House of Councillors, moving from six to 11 seats. They surged forward in the 2014 elections, receiving 7,040,130 votes (13.3%) in the constituency section and 6,062,962 (11.37%) in the party lists.
During the nomination period of the July 2016 House of Councillors election, the party signed an agreement with the Democratic, Social Democratic and People's Life parties to field a jointly-endorsed candidate in each of the 32 districts in which only one seat is contested, uniting in an attempt to take control of the House from the LDP/Komeito coalition. JCP leaders have expressed willingness to enter into a coalition with the Democratic Party, a notion which was rejected by Democratic Party President Katsuya Okada as being "impossible" in the near future due to some of the "extreme leftist policies" promoted by the JCP. The party has three Councillors up for re-election and is fielding a total of 56 candidates in the election, down from 63 candidates in the 2013 election, but still the second-most behind the LDP. However, only 14 of those candidates are contesting single- and multi-member districts, while 42 will contest the 48-seat national proportional representation block.
One of the JCP's main objectives is terminating the Japan–United States military alliance and the dismantling of all American military bases in Japan. It wants to make Japan a non-aligned and neutral country, in accordance with its principles of self-determination and national sovereignty. There are about 130 American military bases and other related facilities in Japan, with Okinawa having the largest American military base in Asia.
With regards to Japan's own military forces, the JCP's current policy is that it is not principally opposed to its existence (in 2000 it decided that it will agree to its use should Japan ever be attacked), but that it will seek to abolish it in the long term, international situation permitting.
The JCP also opposes possession of nuclear weapons by any country or the concept of military blocs and opposes any attempt to revise Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan, which says that "never again [...] [Japan] be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government". Regarding the resolution of disputes, it argues that priority must be given to peaceful means through negotiations, not to military solutions. The JCP says that Japan must adhere to the United Nations Charter.
The JCP adheres to the idea that Japan as an Asian country must stop putting emphasis on diplomacy centering on relations with the United States and the G8 Summit and put Asian diplomacy at the center of its foreign relations. It supports Japan establishing an "independent foreign policy in the interests of the Japanese people" and rejects "uncritically following any foreign power".
The JCP advocates that Japan issue further apologies for its actions during World War II and has condemned prime-ministerial visits to Yasukuni Shrine. In the 1930s, while the JCP was still illegal, it was the only political party to actively oppose Japan's war with China and World War II. However, despite this the JCP supports the territorial claims by Japan in the Kuril and Senkaku Islands and Liancourt Rocks disputes. Furthermore, the JCP has condemned North Korea's nuclear-weapons testing, calling for effective sanctions, but opposing the prospect of a military response.
The JCP has traditionally been opposed to the existence of the Imperial House since the pre-war days. From 2004, it has acknowledged the Emperor as Japan's head of state as long as he remains a figurehead. The JCP has stated that it supports the establishment of a democratic republic, but that "its [the monarchy] continuation or discontinuation should be decided by the will of the majority of the people in future, when the time is ripe to do so". It is also against Japan's use of its national flag and national anthem which it sees as a relic of Japan's militarist past.
The JCP also strives to change the nation's economic policy of what it sees as serving the interests of large corporations and banks to one of "defending the interests of the people," and to establish "democratic rules" that will check the activities of large corporations and "protect the lives and basic rights of the people".
Regarding the issue of the international economy, the JCP has advocated establishing a new international democratic economic order on the basis of respect for the economic sovereignty of each country and strongly opposes the participation to the TPP. The JCP sees the United States, transnational corporations and international financial capital as pushing globalization, which it says is seriously affecting the global economy, including the monetary and financial problems as well as North–South and environmental problems. The JCP advocates "democratic regulation of activities by transnational corporations and international financial capital on an international scale".
The JCP stance on international terrorism is that only by "encircling the forces of terror through strong international solidarity with the United Nations at the center" can terrorism be eliminated. It argues that waging war as a response to terrorism "produces a rift and contradictions in international solidarity, which instead expands the breeding ground of terrorism".
In September 2015 after the passage of the 2015 Japanese military legislation, the JCP called for cooperation from other opposition parties to form an interim government to abolish the bills. It was the first time the party had called for such cooperation with other parties.
Shimbun Akahata (English: Red Flag Newspaper) is the daily organ of the JCP in the form of a national newspaper. Several other newspapers preceded and merged into Red Flag, including Daini Musansha Shinbun (English: The Second Proletarian News), which was merged into Red Flag in 1932. Daini Musansha Shinbun was itself the immediate successor to the original The Proletarian News, which was banned by the government in September 1929. Daini Musansha Shinbun began publication immediately after the ban.
In the past, the party published numerous other newspapers as well, including another national paper called Nihon Seiji Shinbun (English: Japan Political News) and a theoretical journal called Zenshin (English: Forward). The party also published several regional newspapers such as Class War in and around Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe, Shinetsu Red Flag in Nagano and Hokkaido News in Hokkaido. They also published numerous (the exact number is unknown) factory newspapers.
Some regional newspapers, such as Shin Kanagawa (English: New Kanagawa) in Kanagawa, are still published.
The youth wing of JCP is the Democratic Youth League of Japan. In the 1920s and 1930s, the organization published several newspapers of its own, including Rēnin Seinen (English: Lenin Youth) and Proletarian Youth.
The party also has affiliate medical and consumer co-ops. The Japanese Consumers' Co-Operative Union (JCCU), the umbrella body of the co-operative movement in Japan, has a sizable number of communists in its ranks, although the exact numbers are difficult to verify. Another example of the JCP's prevalence in the co-operative movement is the Co-op Kanagawa in the Kanagawa Prefecture, which has 800,000 members and has historical ties to the JCP. It still advertises and occasionally is published in JCP newspapers such as Red Flag and New Kanagawa. The prevalence of house unions in Japan as opposed to enterprise unions has prompted much of the exceptional development of other organizations by the JCP, as well as causing the JCP to seek other external organizational support, including from kōenkai.
The musical group Choir of JCP-fans (Japanese: JCPファン雑唱団, JCP-fan zassyōdan), was founded in Kyoto (Japan) in 2011 and directed by Tadao Yamamoto, composer, accordionist, choir director and an ordinary member of the National Council of The Singing Voice of Japan (Japanese: 日本のうたごえ, romanized: Nihon no utagoe / うたごえ運動 Utagoe-undō). As of 2016, the choir is the only organization of Japanese musicians specializing in political support and in the cultural activity of the party, naming itself explicitly by the English official acronym JCP. Its repertory and artistic activity are strongly linked in The Singing Voice of Japan, a musical movement of Japanese working class that dates back to 1948, when the Choir of the Communist Youth League of Japan (Japanese: 日本青年共産同盟中央合唱団, Nihon-seinen-kyōsan-dōmei Chuō-gassyōdan) was established. In various cultural events organized by the party, the Choir of JCP-fans appears as an element among the joined choirs of the volunteer singers of The Singing Voice of Japan.
- Activity of the Choir (some notable concerts and performances)
- 11 February 2011, Kyoto Kaikan Hall: Concert sponsored by the Kyoto Committee of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP).
- 1 August 2013, Nishijin Bunka Center (Kyoto): Cultural Live Revolutionary Pub, in collaboration with Tokiko Nishiyama (西山登紀子), former JCP member of the House of Councilors.
- 23 September 2014, Takaragaike Park (Kyoto): Festival Kyoto ed.2014, organized by the Kyoto Committee of the JCP.
- 1 February 2015, Kyoiku Bunka Center (Kyoto): Festival sponsored by the Kyoto Committee of the JCP.
- 29 April 2016, Takaragaike Park (Kyoto): Festival Kyoto ed.2016, organized by the Kyoto Committee of the JCP: performance with Seifuku Kōjō Iinkai (制服向上委員会) and Akira Koike (小池晃), JCP member of the House of Councilors and Secretary-General of the party.
|No.||Name||Term of office|
|Took Office||Left Office|
|General Affairs Chief Secretary|
|1||Arahata Katsuzō||5 July 1922||1923|
|Party outlawed by the Government|
|1||Kyuichi Tokuda||3 December 1945||14 October 1953|
|2||Sanzō Nosaka||14 October 1953||1 August 1958|
|3||Kenji Miyamoto||1 August 1958||7 July 1970|
|1||Kenji Miyamoto||7 July 1970||31 July 1982|
|2||Tetsuzo Fuwa||31 July 1982||29 November 1987|
|3||Hiromu Murakami||29 November 1987||29 May 1989|
|(2)||Tetsuzo Fuwa||29 May 1989||24 November 2000|
|4||Kazuo Shii||24 November 2000||Incumbent|
Popular support and electoral results
House of Representatives (Lower House)
Prior to 1996, the entire House of Representatives was elected by majoritarian/"semi-proportional" voting systems with votes cast for individuals (1946: limited voting in multi-member districts, 1947 to 1993 SNTV in multi-member districts). Since 1996, the House of Representatives is elected in a parallel election system – essentially two separate elections only in the lower house complicated by the fact that a candidate may stand in both segments and the sekihairitsu system which ties proportional list ranking to FPTP results: only the majority of members the House of Representatives, 295 (initially 300) seats, are elected in a majoritarian system with voting for candidates (first-past-the-post in single-member districts), while the remaining 180 (initially 200) seats are elected by a proportional representation system (votes are cast for party lists in regional multi-member districts, called "blocks" in the House of Representatives). The votes and vote percentages in the table below are the JCP candidates' vote totals for the whole election from before 1993 and just the votes for the party in the election to the 180 proportional seats after 1996.
|House of Representatives|
|Election year||No. of votes||% of vote||Total seats||±|
6 / 464
4 / 466
35 / 466
0 / 466
1 / 466
2 / 467
1 / 467
3 / 467
5 / 467
5 / 486
14 / 486
38 / 491
17 / 511
39 / 511
29 / 511
26 / 511
26 / 512
16 / 512
15 / 511
26 / 500
20 / 480
9 / 480
9 / 480
9 / 480
8 / 480
21 / 475
12 / 465
House of Councillors (Upper House)
Elections to the House of Councillors are staggered. Every three years, half of the House is up for election to six-year terms. In addition, a parallel election system is used: the majority of members of the House of Councillors (currently 146 of 242, or 73 in one regular election to one half of the House) are elected in 45 (formerly 46→47) prefectural districts, votes are cast for individual candidates by SNTV, but with both multi- and single-member districts used and in the latter SNTV becomes identical to FPTP (winner-takes-all). The remaining, currently 96 members (48 per regular election) are elected in one nationwide district. Until 1980, votes there were cast for individuals too by SNTV. Since 1983, votes are cast for party lists and the seats are allocated proportionally (d'Hondt) in the nationwide district. Unlike in general elections to the lower house, a candidate may not be nominated in both segments of one regular election to the upper house. The seats totals show below are the JCP's overall post-election seat totals, not just their seats elected in that particular year. The votes shown are the votes in the election for the 48 (formerly 50) seats in the nationwide SNTV/PR segment.
|Election year||National district votes||Total|
|No. of votes||% of votes||Seats||±|
4 / 250
4 / 260
2 / 260
2 / 254
3 / 254
4 / 254
6 / 254
7 / 251
10 / 251
19 / 260
16 / 252
12 / 252
14 / 252
16 / 252
14 / 252
11 / 252
14 / 252
23 / 252
20 / 247
9 / 242
7 / 242
6 / 242
11 / 242
14 / 242
13 / 245
Current Diet members
House of Representatives
House of Councillors
- Appeal to the People
- Democracy in Marxism
- Democratic Youth League of Japan
- Japanese dissidence during the early Shōwa period
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- List of foreign delegations at the 22nd Japanese Communist Party Congress
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Japanese Communist Party.|
- Official website
- "Anti-Russian Organization Rises in Japan; Red Liaison Officer Says That American Occupation Too Soft". Times Daily. 9 October 1945.
- "Military Oblivion Is Japs' Fate". The Evening Independent. 15 October 1945.
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- Kazuo Shii: Comments from the Japanese Communist Party on the upcoming election. YouTube video (in English) of the JCP leader Kazuo Shii discussing the 2014 Japanese general election. Uploaded 8 December 2014.