Japanese Communist Party

Japanese Communist Party
   The JCP (Nihon Kyosanto) was formed from the Japanese branch of the Communist International in 1922 but was deemed to be illegal. It was forced to dissolve briefly in 1924 but reorganized in 1926. It was particularly the subject of police repression due to advocacy of the abolition of the emperor as part of a bourgeois democratic revolution to precede a socialist revolution in a second stage. The party engaged in underground activity and was active in labor unions and other groups.
   However, arrests or exile of the top leadership and frequent forced conversions of communists meant that the party was in tatters for most of its early existence.
   The JCP gained legal status in 1945 at the end of the Pacific War under the Allied Occupation of Japan. It leaders were released from jail or returned from exile. In the first postwar election, it obtained five seats and its first representation in the Japanese parliament. Moreover, its tendency to encourage illegal anti-government action caused its relationship with the Allied Occupation authorities to deteriorate and it was subject to a “Red Purge” with its members or suspected members losing their jobs in government and private industry. Intervention from Moscow also increased in this period and the party split into several smaller factions. The dominant faction organized sporadic guerrilla actions in rural areas but this was soon put down by the Japanese police.
   From 1955 Kenji Miyamoto emerged as the leader and proceeded to rebuild the JCP. Internationally, the party took the Chinese side in the Sino–Soviet split but both nations attempted to actively intervene in the party to gain influence. At the same time, the party toned down its ideological propaganda and became active in issues of everyday livelihood in both rural and urban Japan. It was particularly successful in urban areas such as Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo. It worked with the Japanese Socialist Party in the 1970s to elect progressive mayors and governors to a number of major urban areas. By 1979 it had 41 seats in parliament. However, this was only a little over 10 percent of the seats and the JCP was still mistrusted by the other opposition parties.
   The party welcomed the fall of the Soviet Union and took advantage of the collapse of the Japan Socialist Party in 1996 to regain electoral strength that it had lost during the 1980s. However, this revival was short-lived. By the 2004 upper house election, it had even lost all of its seats in its stronghold of Kyoto. Nonetheless, reform of the party program has proceeded. In 2000, it eliminated the term vanguard party from its platform, and in 2004 accepted Japan was a capitalist nation but advocated democratic control of the economy and opposition to militarism. In addition, it emphasized its commitment to freedom and democracy. It even now accepts the current constitutional position of the emperor but opposes the use of the Imperial House for political purposes.
   See also Katayama, Sen; Koza Faction.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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