Revolutionary Communist League, National Committee
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Revolutionary Communist League, National Committee (革命的共産主義者同盟全国委員会 Kakumeiteki Kyōsanshugisha Dōmei, Zenkoku Iinkai?) is a Japanese far-left revolutionary group, often referred to as Chūkaku-ha (中核派 Middle Core Faction). However, in the most recent periods, the league has lost a significant amount of support due to a lack of interest and support in 'left-wing' policies across Japan as a whole.
Chūkaku-ha traces its origins in the internal divisions within Japan's communist movements in the 1950s in which militant left-wingers became disillusioned with the USSR-led communist movement at that time and the Japanese Communist Party's destruction of post-World War II revolution in Japan.
This led of a 1957 formation of Japan Revolutionary Communist League (JRCL), a new "anti-Stalinist" revolutionary movement which denounced the existing communist regimes of USSR, Eastern Europe, China or North Korea as "counterrevolutionary alienation of communist movement" that destroys self-emancipation of working class and world revolution under the theory of "socialism in one country". Subsequent splits between supporters and opponents of entrism and "unconditional support" of "workers' states" led to the formation of Japan Revolutionary Communist League National Committee. In 1959, Kuroda Kan'ichi became chairperson of this group. JRCL-NC criticized "unconditional support" of "workers' states" as "dogmatism", "fetishism of nationalized property" and "disdain of the Marxist principle--'self-emancipation of working class'."
In 1958, other group, leaders of Zengakuren, broke away from Japanese Communist Party and established the Communist League (CL). The majority of the Representative Assembly of Zengakuren supported the CL leadership.
1n 1960, Zengakuren waged historical struggle against US-Japan Security Treaty (Ampo Struggle) in defiance of fierce oppression by the Communist Party. In Zengakuren, the Japanese Section of the Fourth International supported the minority faction led by the Japanese Communist Party. The JRCL National Committee formed a united front with the CL and fought against the JCP.
After the defeat of the Ampo Struggle, the many leaders of the Communist League entered the JRCL National Committee.
In 1961, immediately after the atomic bomb testing by the USSR, the JRCL-NC launched anti-nuke struggle against both US and USSR and organized massive workers' struggle against nuclear armament. Since then, the JRCL-NC has underlined importance of struggles against US nuclear-powered submarines, aircraft carriers, Japanese nuclear power plants and other preparations of Japanese nuclear armament.
In 1963, another disagreement within the JRCL National Committee led to dissidents breaking away to form the JRCL Revolutionary Marxist Faction who were to become bitter enemies; loyalists eventually became known as the JRCL National Committee Middle Core Faction, or simply Chūkaku-ha ("Nucleus Faction" or "Middle Core Faction") for short.
The group's aim is to establish a socialist society worldwide—self-emancipation of working class of the world, focusing on organizing labor unions in workplaces as the most fundamental workers' organization, overthrow of the Japanese imperial system and US-Japan Security Alliance, the complete removal of United States military forces from Japanese soil and overthrow of all imperialist and Stalinist regimes. Chūkaku-ha are believed to currently have about 3,500 members. Chūkaku-ha is said to have maintained a small armed wing known as the People's Revolutionary Army.
Although the majority of Chūkaku-ha's activities today relate to organizing labor unions and students' autonomous bodies, pamphleteering and public protests, the group has a violent history, ranging from riots to sabotage attacks and assassinations.
Chūkaku-ha was one of the main orchestrators of a series of student riots in the late 1960s. One of the earliest was in 1967 when helmet-clad students, opposed to Japan's support for America's role in the Vietnam War and Prime Minister Eisaku Sato's official visit to South Vietnam, battled with riot police in an attempt to prevent him from reaching Haneda Airport in Tokyo. Another major riot at this time was in January 1968, when thousands of protesters belonging to the All-Japan Federation of Students' Self-Governing Associations (Zengakuren), led by several left-wing bodies including Chūkaku-ha, congregated in Sasebo, Nagasaki, in a failed attempt to prevent the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise from stopping by at Sasebo's US Naval base en route to Vietnam. A two-hour battle with riot police resulted in 135 injuries.
Chūkaku-ha-led riots continued into the early 1970s, with causes ranging from opposition to the extension of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, support for strikes demanding an unconditional return of Okinawa from American occupation and opposition to the forced eviction of farmers for the construction of Tokyo's new airport, Narita, resulting in many arrests and the deaths of two riot policemen in separate incidents.
Before launching these militant struggles, Chūkaku-ha analyzed the post-World War II world system and concluded that the world ruling system of imperialism and Stalinism was beginning to be fundamentally destabilized because of quagmire of Vietnam War, fundamental and unsolvable crisis of dollar system and IMF system, and contradiction of Stalinism.
The 1970s were also marked by bitter rivalry with the JRCL Revolutionary Marxist Faction (Kakumaru-ha), who broke off in 1963 and were engaged in a bloody "war" against other leftist militant groups, including Chūkaku-ha, the Japanese Section of the Fourth International (United Secretariat). On December 14, 1969, Kakumaru attacked violently on People's Memorial for Comrade Kasuya (a member of other leftist organization, which was a part of a broad coalition) who was killed by the police, the Japanese Section of the Fourth International defined Kakumaru as "counterrevolutionary" and called for "armed self-defense" against counterrevolutionary physical attack by Kakumaru. In 1975, the leader of Chūkaku-ha, Nobuyoshi Honda, was attacked and killed in his sleep at his home in Kawaguchi, Saitama by members of Kakumaru-ha, and Chūkaku-ha declared war on Kakumaru-ha. Escalating tit-for-tat killings amongst militant leftist groups continued throughout the 1980s, and the total number of deaths across the three main leftist militant groups in Japan is said to approach one hundred.
The early 1980s saw clashes with yet another rival leftist group, the Japanese section of Fourth International, due to disagreements over the struggle against the construction and expansion of Narita Airport. This culminated in 1984 when members of Fourth International attacked Chūkaku-ha activists and Chūkaku-ha revenged Fourth International in their homes, seriously injuring two of them.
It was around this time that the group started to change their focus of activity from orchestrating demonstrations and riots to more underground, terrorist activities. The Narita Airport struggle also saw the last riot organised by Chūkaku-ha, when several thousand demonstrators, armed with logs, steel pipes, rocks and molotov cocktails, clashed with riot police at Sanrizuka near the airport on 20 October 1985.
On 19 September 1984, Chūkaku-ha's armed wing, the People's Revolutionary Army, attacked the Tokyo headquarters of the Liberal Democratic Party using a flamethrower mounted on a lorry, causing extensive damage but no casualties. In its statement, the People's Revolutionary Army said that the attack was part of the airport struggle.
In November 1985, the group, who was opposed to the privatisation of Japan National Railways, simultaneously sabotaged railway signaling cables in 33 locations in Tokyo and Osaka and set fire to Asakusabashi Station in Tokyo, paralyzing the railway systems of both cities. In 1986, the group launched crude incendiary rockets into the USAF's Yokota Air Base in Tokyo and at several locations related to the 12th G7 Summit. None of these attacks caused any casualties.
Chūkaku-ha's anti–Narita Airport activities continued as a campaign of intimidation against officials and industry figures related to the airport's expansion, with a series of arson and firebomb attacks, some of which were fatal.
In May 1991, Chūkaku-ha decided to moderate its campaign of armed struggle and instead concentrated on consolidating its position within trade unions and mainstream left-wing movements. Most of its activities today are peaceful.
- Andrews, William Dissenting Japan: A History of Japanese Radicalism and Counterculture, from 1945 to Fukushima. London: Hurst, 2016. ISBN 978-1849045797