Japanese Communist Party

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Japanese Communist Party
President Kazuo Shii
Secretary-General Yoshiki Yamashita
Representatives leader Keiji Kokuta
Councillors leader Yoshiki Yamashita
Founded July 15, 1922 (July 15, 1922)
Headquarters 4-26-7 Sendagaya, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-8586, Japan
Membership  (2014) 320,000[1]
Ideology Communism
Scientific socialism
Political position Left-wing
International affiliation Comintern (1922 – 1943)
Colours Red
21 / 475
11 / 242
Prefectural assembly members[2]
105 / 2,725
Municipal assembly members[2]
2,661 / 32,070
Party flag
Japan Communist Party flag.jpg
Politics of Japan
Political parties
Kazuo Shii, Chair of the Central Committee (2000- )
JCP members From left, Tokuda Kyuichi, Nosaka Sanzo, and Yoshio Shiga. (During 1945-1946)
Japanese Communist Party Headquarters

The Japanese Communist Party (JCP, Japanese: 日本共産党, Nihon Kyōsan-tō) is a communist political party in Japan and is one of the largest non-governing communist parties in the world.

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; 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.

Following the most recent general election, held on December 14, 2014, the party holds 21 seats in the House of Representatives and following the most recent councillors election, held on July 21, 2013, the party holds 11 seats in the House of Councillors.[3]


The JCP is one of the largest non-ruling communist parties in the world, with approximately 320,000 members belonging to 22,000 branches. In the wake of the Sino-Soviet split, the party began to distance itself from the Socialist 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".[4]

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, and 7.0% in the August 2009 election. In recent years its support has exploded; 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 neo-liberalism, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, militarist attempts to rewrite the constitution, US military bases on Japanese soil and nuclear power, the JCP tapped into a minority current that seeks an alternative to Japan’s rightward direction.[5]


As of 1 January, 2014 the JCP has approximately 320,000 members. Following the party's advancement in the 2013 Tokyo prefectural election there has been an upswing in people joining the party, with over 1,000 people joining in each of the final three months of 2013.[1] 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.[1]


Kenji Miyamoto, held the party's leadership position from 1958 to 1982

The JCP was founded on 15 July, 1922, 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. It was the only political party in Japan that opposed Japan's involvement in World War II. The party was legalised during the U.S. 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. It won 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. 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. This resulted in a loss of popular confidence. Through the end of the decade, it never won more than 3 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 U.S. State Department estimated the party membership to be approximately 120,000 (0.2% of the working age population).[6]

Lam Peng Er argued in Pacific Affairs in 1996 that "the JCP's viability is crucial to the health of Japanese democracy." This, he says, 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.[7]

In 2008, foreign media recorded an increase in support for the party due to the effect of the global financial crisis on Japanese workers.[8][9] However they failed to increase seats in the Japanese general election, 2009. However the projected decline of the party has been halted, with the JCP becoming the third largest party in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly[10][11] and making gains in the House of Councillors, moving from 6 to 11 seats. They surged forward in the 2014 elections the JCP took 7,040,130 votes (13.3%) in the constituency section and 6,062,962 (11.37%) in the party lists.


One of the JCP's main objectives is terminating the Japan–U.S. military alliance and the dismantling of all U.S. 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. (In Japan there are about 130 U.S. military bases and other related facilities, Okinawa having the largest U.S. 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 U.N. 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.[12] 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. Despite this, however, 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.[13]

The JCP has traditionally been opposed to the existence of the Imperial House since the pre-war days. From 2004,[4] it has acknowledged the Emperor as Japan's head of state as long as he remains a figurehead. JCP has stated that if the party comes to power, it will not ask the Emperor to abdicate; 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."

The JCP supports the legalization of civil unions for same-sex couples.[14]

During the Occupation of Japan[edit]

According to Eiji Takemae, the GHQ was initially willing to regard the JCP as a potential ally in combating the militarists and the "Old Guard".[15] However, the relationship between the Japanese Communist Party, and the Occupation became strained with the beginning of the Cold War, the Reverse course and the following Red Purge in Japan.[16]

Affiliated organisations[edit]

Notable members[edit]




Popular support and electoral results[edit]

House of Representatives (Lower House)[edit]

Note: Prior to 1996 the entire House of Representatives was elected via proportional lists, and after 1996 the majority of members of the House of Representatives (currently 295 of 475) are elected via local single-member FPTP districts, not the regional PR blocks (which elect the other 180 seats.) Voters have one vote in their FPTP district, and one in their PR block. Thus the votes and vote percentages in the table below are the JCP's overall vote totals from before 1993, and just the proportional lists after 1996.

House of Representatives
Election year # of votes  % of vote Total seats ±
1946 2,135,757 3.8
6 / 464
1947 1,002,883 3.7
4 / 466
1949 2,984,780 9.8
35 / 466
1952 896,765 2.5
0 / 466
1953 655,990 1.9
1 / 466
1955 733,121 2.0
2 / 467
1958 1,012,035 2.5
1 / 467
1960 1,156,723 2.9
3 / 467
1963 1,646,477 4.0
5 / 467
1967 2,190,564 4.8
5 / 486
1969 3,199,032 6.8
14 / 486
1972 5,496,827 10.5
38 / 491
1976 5,878,192 10.4
17 / 511
1979 5,625,527 10.4
39 / 511
1980 5,803,613 9.8
29 / 511
1983 5,302,485 9.3
26 / 511
1986 5,313,246 8.8
26 / 512
1990 5,226,987 8.0
16 / 512
1993 4,834,587 7.7
15 / 511
1996 7,268,743 13.1
26 / 500
2000 6,719,016 11.2
20 / 480
2003 4,586,172 7.8
9 / 480
2005 4,919,187 7.3
9 / 480
2009 4,943,886 7.0
9 / 480
2012 3,689,159 6.2
8 / 480
2014 6,062,962 11.4
21 / 475

House of Councillors (Upper House)[edit]

Note: The majority of members of the House of Councillors (currently 146 of 242) is elected in the prefectural SNTV districts, not in the national PR district (until 1980: national SNTV district). Members of the House of Councillors are elected to staggered six year terms. Every three years half the house is up for election. The seats totals show below are the JCP's overall post-election seat totals, not just their seats elected in that particular year.

Election year National district votes Total
# of votes  % of votes Seats ±
1947 610,948 2.9
4 / 250
1950 1,333,872 4.8
4 / 260
1953 293,877 1.1
2 / 260
1956 599,254 2.1
2 / 254
1959 551,916 1.9
3 / 254
1962 1,123,947 3.1
4 / 254
1965 1,652,364 4.4
6 / 254
1968 2,146,879 5.0
7 / 251
1971 3,219,307 8.1
10 / 251
1974 4,931,650 9.4
19 / 260
16 / 252
12 / 252
14 / 252
1986 5,430,838 9.5
16 / 252
14 / 252
11 / 252
14 / 252
23 / 252
2001 4,329,210 7.9
20 / 247
2004 4,363,107 7.8
9 / 242
2007 4,407,937 7.5
7 / 242
2010 3,563,556 6.1
6 / 242
2013 5,154,055 9.7
11 / 242

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Japanese Communist Party seeing sharp increase in new, young members (in English)". Mainichi Shimbun. 7 January 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications: Prefectural and local assembly members and governors/mayors by political party as of December 31, 2011
  3. ^ "List of Members of the House of Councillors". www.sangiin.go.jp. 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  4. ^ a b The Daily Yomiuri JCP struggling to become relevant July 16 2012 Retrieved on July 12, 2012
  5. ^ http://www.communist-party.org.uk/international/analysis-a-briefings/1889-kenny-coyle-japanese-communists-surpass-10-per-cent-vote.html
  6. ^ Benjamin, Roger W.; Kautsky, John H.. Communism and Economic Development, in The American Political Science Review, Vol. 62, No. 1. (Mar., 1968), pp. 122.
  7. ^ Er, Lam Peng. The Japanese Communist Party: Organization and Resilience in the Midst of Adversity - in Pacific Affairs, Vol. 69, No. 3. (Autumn, 1996), pp. 362-363.
  8. ^ Japan's young turn to Communist Party as they decide capitalism has let them down - Daily Telegraph October 18, 2008
  9. ^ "Communism on rise in recession-hit Japan", BBC, May 4, 2009
  10. ^ http://www.jcp.or.jp/english/jps_2013/20130516_09i.html
  11. ^ http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2013/07/22/japan-communists-celebrate-a-little-victory/?mod=WSJBlog&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
  12. ^ "JCP Chair Shii comments on Abe's shrine visit". Japanese Communist Party. 26 December 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  13. ^ "Shii comments on DPRK nuclear test". Japanese Communist Party. 16 February 2013. 2 April 2014.
  14. ^ Inada, Miho; Dvorak, Phred. "Same-Sex Marriage in Japan: A Long Way Away?". The Wall Street Journal. September 20, 2013. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  15. ^ Takemae, Eiji (2003). Allied Occupation of Japan. A&C Black. p. 240. 
  16. ^ "Japan’s Red Purge: Lessons from a Saga of Suppression of Free Speech and Thought". The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. 

External links[edit]