Japan's Communist Party grows during economic crisis

Japanese Communist Party Chair (JCP) Shii Kazuo on December 14th appeared on TV Asahi's 'Sunday Project' program that aired live. In the interview, he answered questions as to why the JCP is attracting attention now and how the party recognizes serious issues of employment. Citing European governments' measures to secure employment, he stressed responsibilities the government should fulfill and explained the JCP's efforts to overcome 'capitalism without rules.'

At the beginning of the segment TV announcers said, 'Amid the worsening employment situation and working conditions under the recession, the Japanese Communist Party is seen to be very invigorated. Why is the JCP attracting young people's attention? What are they expecting from the JCP? We will ask JCP Chair Shii Kazuo if the JCP has a prescription for improving the economy.'

Then Shii had a discussion with journalist Tawara Soichiro:

Tawara: Many young people are reading Capital. Why Capital now? We've also witnessed the Kanikosen ('The Factory Ship,' a novel by Kobayashi Takiji) attracting a wide readership. And the JCP is increasing its membership.

Terasaki Takashi (TV Asahi announcer): I hear that the JCP is reaching people on the Internet.

Tawara: Yes, on the Internet.

At the start of the interview, video footage from Shii's speech at the December 4 rally for a drastic revision of the Workers Dispatch Law was shown with a narration: 'The rapidly worsening employment situation and the raging storm of restructuring.' Participants in the video were seen shouting, 'Stop the illegal corporate restructuring schemes! Major corporations must fulfill their social responsibility to secure jobs!'

Then it said, 'The JCP is attracting attention amid the economic downturn. It has received more than 13,000 new members since September last year and been covered by magazines targeting automobile fans and business managers,' showing the December issue of 'New Model Magazine X' and the December issue of 'BOSS' magazine featuring Shii's lecture at a business workshop. It also introduced the British newspaper Telegraph's web article entitled, 'Japan's young turn to Communist Party as they decide capitalism has let them down.' The theme of Shii's interview was 'Why is it the JCP now?'



Tawara: We've seen a major increase in public interest in the JCP. In Germany, Marx's Capital is a best-seller. In Japan, in addition to the big Kanikosen boom, increasing number of people are also reading Capital.

Shii: That's right.

Tawara: The JCP has received 13,000 new members between September last year and November this year. The readership of Akahata has also increased by 18,000 in the last seven months.

Shii: Yes, we have long experienced a decline in the Akahata readership since the 1980s. However, the readership has finally begun to increase. So we can say we are turning around and gaining momentum.

Concerning the membership, we have made progress for 13 consecutive months with 13,000 people joining the party. I think this represents a major change taking place.

Tawara: Why are people interested so much in Marx and the JCP now?

Shii: One main reason is that our efforts to resolve the 'working poor' problem have gained support for the JCP.

At the same time, many people are beginning to ask whether or not Japan should continue to accept capitalism without rules. We have no decent rules to defend the people's living conditions regarding employment, social services, medium-and-small-sized firms, and many other fields. I believe that an increasing number of people have empathy for the JCP's call for an end to 'capitalism without rules.'

- Akahata December 16, 2008