Party Politics in Japan: Political Chaos and Stalemate in the 21st Century

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Through the recent elections, we have gone surpassed the LDP in city assemblies. The number of JCP assembly members' groups that are large enough to have the right to propose bills has increased from to The JCP 21st Congress Resolution, in stressing the significance of the JCP advance in local assembly elections said, "It is especially important to bring about a drastic change in the balance of power in the local assemblies in which we have few seats, i.

What does our recent major advance signify? Following the successive advances in the general elections, the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election and the House of Councilors' Election, the result of the recent nationwide local elections has laid the political groundwork for another JCP advance in the forthcoming general elections.

Also, it is important to note that an increasing number of people are recognizing the JCP as the only political party with a capacity to confront LDP politics.

1994 Japanese electoral reform

In local politics, this found its expression in the criticism of development project-oriented LDP politics and the earnest desire of the public for residents-oriented politics worthy of local self-government. Day-to-day JCP activities are carried out by 26, branches organized throughout the country. Branches are the key players.

It is important to note that the JCP is a political party which is demonstrating its grassroots power based on its close links with the people.

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In the ever-frequent changes of alliance among political parties it is often the case that despite their having fairly a large number of Dietmembers, they only have a small number of local assembly members. The JCP's ability to demonstrate the intrinsic grassroots strength of a political party can be taken as an important factor in considering the future of Japan and political parties. One of the characteristics of the recent local elections was the fierce anti-communist attacks which we had to defeat in order to make a JCP advance.

Most political parties resorted to anti-communist attacks, but the Komei Party's were the fiercest. Throughout the election campaigns, it was apparent that the points which were made in the Komei Party's anti-communist attacks in localities were all "provided" by the Komei Party center, and not based on facts of politics in each locality. And this was their weakness demonstrated in their attacks.

By and large there were two main issues. Komei Party center took the initiative in releasing the fabricated, sheer groundless criticism, saying, "The JCP is propagating the merchandise coupons as its own achievement", and this slander all over Japan. Naturally, our party refuted their argument based on facts. After all, throughout the election campaign period and even up till now, the Komei Party has been unable to show any fact to support its allegation that the JCP claimed the credit for the coupons.

In the other attack, the Komei Party claimed, "'Crumbling public schools' is a lie". But it is now a commonly recognized reality nationwide that public schools are so under-funded both in their facilities and operations that, though with varying degrees, children and their parents are suffering from the devastation of schools resulting from such situations. In some local assemblies, the Komei Party itself has joined in passing an opinion note calling for urgent measures to deal with the situation.

We paid attention to making counterarguments to make ourselves understood by supporters of our opponents. Bearing these distorted misrepresentations in mind, we made the necessary counterattacks.

In doing so, we made a special effort to develop a counterargument that could be understood even by supporters of the other party in order to avoid devolving into emotional exchanges and unsubstantiated attacks. Our efforts drove them into a situation in which they could not make a proper refutation. This is a point we should keep in mind in our future struggle to counter various anti-communist attacks.

Also, in these latest elections, anti-communist attacks took the form of disruption of election campaigns in violation of the elementary rules of democracy, such as physical interference with our legitimate publicity campaigns or distribution of flyers of political slander and misrepresentation. We must remain vigilant for these kinds of moves in future elections. Generally, an anti-communist campaign is waged when the JCP is making advances and its opponents are in decline, and also when there is a movement toward achieving a democratic government.

This represents the dialectics of a political struggle which we have pointed out for some time. As clear from the post-election developments, how to stop the great advance of the JCP is the major concern of the political forces which are promoting misgovernment.

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This is confirmed by comments and remarks some key leaders of the ruling LDP make on the post-election political situation. In making exact counterattacks against their ruthless attacks, we must correctly grasp the new features in the present political situation in which the JCP advance is a focal point, and take advantage of this condition for our further success. In an election like this latest one in which we made a significant advance it is important to seriously analyze any weaknesses in our campaign. I spoke about our remarkable progress which featured our campaign in general, but when it comes to particularities there were numerous failures.

For example, we won extra numbers of seats in assemblies: 25 prefectures, 10 ordinance-designated cities and cities, wards, towns and villages. However, we suffered setbacks in the number of seats in local assemblies: 2 prefectures and cities, wards, towns and villages. Contradictions between local residents and LDP politics take on different features depending on local or regional conditions.

Let me cite several major problems. First, the political battle. The failure of LDP-centered local politics was evident and its contradictions with local citizens far-reaching, so the JCP put toward a clear political alternative which is resident-first. We took advantage of this sharp contrast in our political campaigns everywhere which was a major characteristic common throughout the country. This point has proved very effective and powerful. The point here is that the confrontation between LDP politics and people-oriented politics is common throughout Japan in terms of the general political setting, and each expression of this trend has specific features in each locality and region.

Also, our policy making must start with identifying the most pressing and earnest demands of the people under the current circumstances of misgovernment. Why are such and such urgent demands of residents not brought up in local politics? What are the political errors and waste of resources that are blocking the way for solutions? In our political struggle it is crucial to analyze in specific terms these situations, and grasp the very point at issue so that we can fully convince the broadest possible range of voters that we offer a viable alternative.

Once we arrive at that point, JCP policies can not only become substantial enough to be presented in campaign speeches and in extra issues of Akahata and other campaign literature, but also be effective in our organizational activities in the election campaigns to address the needs and concerns of all the voters.

Learning Outcomes

In the first half of the recent simultaneous local elections some said "I have never felt the effectiveness of our being engaged in policy debates. And the common recognition was that "the more intensive our policy debate becomes, the greater the voters' support for the JCP. This is a very important point that should be translated into strength in future election campaigns but there is something else we should pay attention to.

In the second half of the simultaneous local elections, there was a tendency in some localities to mechanically adapt the JCP's national policy to local conditions and the attempt to find some local materials to serve that purpose. For example, in criticizing development-oriented politics, our work should start with a close scrutiny of each project to defend the interests and demands of the people so we can find out whether that project is a wasteful large-scale development project which conflicts with the interests of residents or a project necessary to meet the residents' needs.

In some localities, the JCP failed to do this necessary work, and only looked at the scale of the projects which turned out to be misdirected criticisms. In other cases, unable to grasp the essence of the residents' demands, our publicity campaign failed to get on the same wavelength with the people's feelings.

Such weaknesses can be cited as reasons for the fact that the increase of votes in the second half of the elections was lower than that in the first half. In the first half of the simultaneous local elections where prefectural assembly elections, ordinance-designated city assembly elections, and the elections of prefectural governors and ordinance-designated city mayors took place, a major part of our political campaigns were undertaken by JCP prefectural committees.

In the second half, this task was borne basically by JCP district committees. The JCP 21st Congress stressed the following as the major tasks for party building: "We must stress the importance of political activity and mass activity through which the JCP is represented in every region and locality and we need to develop the skill for conducting and leading election campaigns.

For this, district committees should hold discussions with local JCP assembly member groups regularly, work on local political issues, respond to people's demands, and make continuous effort to acquire knowledge and accumulate experiences, so as to play a proper leadership role in these fields in the future.

30.4.3: Fascism in Japan

It is now a long time ago that we last worked aggressively nationwide to increase JCP seats in assemblies. As I showed in statistics, our recent experiences included many failures as well as dramatic successes. Especially, it was serious that we suffered a large number of defeats in districts where the JCP stood two candidates in one electoral district. Characteristic cases were the prefectural assembly elections in Kanazawa and Kumamoto prefectures where the total JCP votes fell short of the number necessary to win both seats.

In these prefectural assembly elections, the umber of votes obtained was lower than that in the proportional representation part of the House of Councilors Election. In such cases, it is important to analyze why they failed to reach the national average of JCP votes and avoid making a simplistic analysis that attributes their failures to standing two candidates in one constituency.

The major part of such failures was caused by the uneven number of votes obtained by each of the JCP candidates while the total number of votes cast for the JCP increased to the required level for both candidates to win. As a result, although one JCP candidate was elected with a large number of votes, the other lost by a slim margin. Detailed analysis of each of these failures proved that in many cases, very basic rules which had stood the tests through past election campaigns were ignored.

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And now it is important to not confine our analysis to a tactical or technical reflection on such problems as the inappropriate distribution of the constituency between our candidates. In the present trend of major JCP advances while the number of votes cast for the JCP is increasing rapidly, the percentage of supporters with whom the JCP has no direct personal contact has become significantly large.

The problem is that in the recent simultaneous elections distribution of the constituency between JCP candidates did not match the distribution of JCP supporters. And this problem was more serious than in previous elections. All the more because of this, it is important for every JCP candidate to stage an attractive campaign. Importance of daily local assembly activities and activities among the masses: Learning from Kobe and Tokushima. There are several localities where the JCP made an outstanding advance in the April elections. For example, in Hyogo Prefecture the JCP doubled its number of seats in the prefectural assembly from 7 to The number of our members elected from the Kobe City constituencies increased fourfold from 2 to 8.

In Kobe City, JCP candidates were returned in 8 of 9 constituencies including 3 two-seat constituencies. Also, in the Kobe City Assembly election, we increased our representation from 10 to 13, winning one or more seats in all of the 9 constituencies.

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Behind this great advance was intensive JCP activities to help the earthquake victims and work for the rehabilitation of local communities following the Great Hanshin Earthquake of January The JCP carried out earnest activities to achieve what the local people needed. Also, when a major popular referendum movement started over the question of a new airport in Kobe, the JCP took active part in the campaign and played an important role in it.

Tokushima Prefecture was another example. There, the JCP had held one seat for many years in the prefectural assembly, and in the April election we won another seat.

In the Tokushima City constituency where these two JCP candidates stood, we achieved a great success in winning first and second places. Also in the Tokushima City Assembly election held as a result of the second half of the simultaneous local elections, the number of JCP seats increased from 4 to 5 with all JCP candidates being elected. In Tokushima, the JCP was very active in supporting the citizens' referendum on the plan to construct a movable dam on the Yoshino River which has caused grave concern because of possible environmental destruction and other problems.

The JCP has worked on this problem for over 10 years. In the signature collection campaign calling for a referendum, all of the 20 JCP residential area branches in Tokushima City organized canvassers in charge of collecting signatures. With the JCP branches and groups in workplaces and mass movement groups also working with various organizations, literally the whole of the JCP in Tokushima City took part in this movement. Another big problem in Tokushima were the disruptive activities and corruption of the Buraku Liberation League.

The JCP has long worked hard to expose and denounce their outrages and corruption. Also, we have opposed their proposal for what they call a "prefectural ordinance to abolish discrimination against the Buraku community"which would actually mean legitimizing their disruptive activities permanently, and formed a prefecture-wide liaison council to thwart this attempt. These activities contributed to producing good results in the election. These experiences show how important it is for the JCP to play a greater role in citizens' movements, as well as in local assemblies where we take up a variety of citizens' demands.

Especially, the party should actively participate in the movement residents have started voluntarily for their pressing demands, and try to contribute to the development of the movements. There were some mistakes as well in this field. In one city where a large-scale development project was an issue, our local assembly members worked hard and drew a partial concession from the city administration.

However, the JCP group in the local assembly voted for the city's proposal on account of the partial concession it achieved and lost its position in the election when this project was made an issue.