An introduction to the history and policies of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP).
Although perhaps little known outside the country, the Japanese Communist Part (JCP) is one of the largest and most influential Communist Parties active in the twenty-first century. It claims to have around 400,000 members in 24,000 branches across Japan and its newspaper, Akahata (Red Flag), was launched in 1928 and has a combined readership (daily and weekly versions) of some 1.6 million people.
Founded in 1922, the JCP was the only party in Japan to fight against wars of aggression and in favour of liberation of Korea and Taiwan. It was banned immediately and not legalized until 1945, at the end of the Second World War (somewhat ironically it was the occupation of Japan by the US forces that permitted Communism to be legalized there). However, US permissiveness remained only until 1950 when the JCP became repressed as a result of controversies resulting to international Communism and the influence of China and the Soviet Union. The JCP itself maintains that it has remained consistently faithful to its original position of opposition to foreign wars of aggression and in favour of the sovereignty of the people – it has been a historical feature of Communism (indeed, a commonly recurrent one) that it has suffered from frangibility in terms of solidarity. The Soviet Union and the Chinese fell out, while there were wars between China and Vietnam and the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia under Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. Consequently, the JCP has subsequently been more or less obliged to plough its own furrow, although it has made efforts to make partnerships and relationships with parties overseas on the basis of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equal rights and sovereign independence.
The JCP has resolutely opposed wars it has designated as foreign wars of aggression, including the American War in Vietnam, the Russian invasions of Afghanistan and Czechoslovakia, among others. It is also committed to democracy, opposed to militarism and the adverse amendment of Japan’s constitution (i.e. away from Japan’s pacifistic foreign policy). The JCP is also committed to peaceful resolution of disputes and for compliance with the UN Charter. It rejects, therefore, Leninist and Maoist ideas of revolution (or perpetual revolution) and is close, in this sense, to the kind of Euro-Communism most commonly associated with the Italian left. It is notable, for example, the relations with the Soviet Union’s Communist Party in 1979 and with the Chinese Communist Party in 1998, both noticeably after important admissions had been made within those countries.
The JCP maintains an official website at http://www.jcp.or.jp.