News From Japan

25th July, 2004



The Japan Press web page (http://www.japan-press.co.jp) now carries the results of the House of Councillors' (upper  house) election of Sunday 11 July, writes John Manning. As in the US and other western countries, the proposed wars for world empire are a central issue and the military still have the upper  hand.

 

In Japan there is a party of opposition, the Japanese Communist Party, support  for  whose alternative proposal rose to over 8 million votes in the 1990s until the demands of the US that Japan take an active part in the wars, forced the JCP to make the abrogation of the US-Japan Strategic Alliance Treaty the main issue.  Opposing head-on the mighty US, whose nuclear subs were in the harbours and whose planes were overhead, was a different matter, and the JCP since has lost seats, a few at a time, though it has nevertheless kept the pressure on for a peace policy.  

Unemployment, the war moves and tax increases put the ruling Liberal Democratic Party under such pressure that  just after the turn of the century, Japan's Business Association formally decided to go for a US-style two-party system, the Democratic Party of Japan being the chosen alternative.  The last couple of elections have been fought on that basis and between them these two have monopolized the vote. This time the LDP elected 49 candidates, down from 50, with the DP exceeding it with 50, an increase of 12.  However, the LDP's ally, the Buddhist sect Komeito, won 11 seats, a gain of one, so that the LDP still has a majority.  The JCP elected only four candidates, down from the 15 they had up for election, however the vote totals, 4.36 million in the proportional election sector and just over 5 million in the prefectural constituencies, basically maintained, or slightly betterred, the vote of the last few years..  The post-election totals are, in the 242-seat upper house, LDP 115, Democratic Party 82, Komei 24, the JCP 9, and the Social Democratic Party five.  Only the JCP opposes the military alliance and stands firmly for maintaining the Constitution with its Article 9 peace clause.   

Post-election, the Peace Constitution is now a  main issue, with the LDP pledging to present a revision draft in 2005.    

In reviewing the election, Shii of the JCP said it was "unfortunate" that the JCP was able only to elect 4 representatives but promised to do its best in working for a people-centred government and to carry on a grass-roots fight to preserve the Constitution.  Various commercial polls have shown that over 70 percent of the Japanese public oppose having Japanese troops in Iraq  

An excerpt from JCP Chair Shii's statement follows:

 

Shii calls for new people-first politics in opposition to politics by 'two major parties'

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo says, "We will strive to create a new people-first politics in opposition to the ''two major parties setting a trend."

Shii stated this on an NHK political debate program "How to respond to voters' judgment?" aired on July 12 after the results of the previous day's House of Councilors election were announced.

The JCP chair said, "It's very regrettable that only four JCP candidates were elected," adding that although voters were practically obliged to choose the Liberal Democratic Party or the Democratic Party of Japan, 4.36 million people in the proportional representation section and 5.52 million people in prefectural constituencies voted for the JCP.

"Bearing this support deep in mind, we will continue to do our utmost," Shii said.

He went on to say, "In the election campaign, the JCP criticized the LDP and the DPJ for competing for undemocratic policies, including an adverse revision of the Constitution and a consumption tax increase. We cannot leave the country's destiny in the hands of these two parties."

Finally he said, "The people seek neither a consumption tax increase nor an adverse revision of the Constitution. We will push forward with grassroots movements to thwart these schemes in response to public opinion. "