Japanese Communist Party
日本共産党
Nihon Kyōsan-tō
AbbreviationJCP
ChairpersonTomoko Tamura
Secretary-GeneralAkira Koike[1]
Representatives leaderChizuko Takahashi
Councillors leaderTomoko Kami
Founded15 July 1922; 101 years ago (15 July 1922)[2]
Headquarters4-26-7 Sendagaya, Shibuya, 151-8586 Japan[3]
NewspaperShimbun Akahata
Youth wingDemocratic Youth League of Japan
Membership (2024)Decrease 250,000
Ideology
Political positionLeft-wing to far-left
International affiliationIMCWP
ColorsRed[4]
Representatives
10 / 465
Councillors
11 / 248
Prefectural assembly members
113 / 2,644
Municipal assembly members
2,226 / 29,135
Election symbol
Party flag
Website
JCP headquarters in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward

The Japanese Communist Party (日本共産党, Nihon Kyōsan-tō, abbr. JCP) is a communist party in Japan. Founded in 1922, it is the oldest political party in the country. It has 250,000 members as of 2024, making it one of the largest non-governing communist parties in the world. The party is chaired by Tomoko Tamura, who replaced longtime leader Kazuo Shii in January 2024.

The JCP was repressed by the Japanese government in the three decades immediately following its founding. The Allied occupation of Japan legalized the JCP after World War II, but the party's unexpected success in the 1949 general election led to the "Red Purge", in which the Japanese government removed tens of thousands of actual and suspected communists from their jobs. The Soviet Union encouraged the JCP to respond with a violent revolution; the consequent internal debate fractured the party into several factions. The dominant faction, backed by the Soviets, waged an unsuccessful guerrilla campaign in Japan's rural areas, which undercut the party's public support.

In 1958, Kenji Miyamoto became the JCP's leader and moderated the party's policies, abandoning the previous line of violent revolution. His efforts to regain electoral support were particularly successful in urban areas such as Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo, and the JCP worked with the Japan Socialist Party in the 1970s to elect a number of progressive mayors and governors. By 1979, the JCP held about 10% of the seats in the National Diet.

Miyamoto also began distancing the JCP from the Eastern Bloc in the 1960s. The party did not take sides during the Sino-Soviet split and declared its support for multi-party democracy, as opposed to the one-party politics of China and the Soviet Union. The JCP did not suffer an internal crisis after the Soviet Union's dissolution in 1991, though its overall electoral strength remains in decline, despite a brief resurgence after the collapse of the Japan Socialist Party in 1996.

The party at present advocates the establishment of a democratic society based on scientific socialism and pacificism. It believes that this objective can be achieved by working within an electoral framework while carrying out an extra-parliamentary struggle against "imperialism and its subordinate ally, monopoly capital". As such, the JCP does not advocate violent revolution but rather a "democratic revolution" to achieve "democratic change in politics and the economy". It accepts the current constitutional position of the emperor but opposes the involvement of the Imperial House in politics. A staunchly anti-militarist party, the JCP firmly supports Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution and seeks to dissolve the Japan Self-Defense Forces. It opposes Japan's military alliance with the United States as an unequal relationship and infringement of Japan's national sovereignty.

History

Prewar roots

The Japanese Communist Party was founded in Tokyo on 15 July 1922.[2] Its early leadership was drawn from the anarcho-syndicalist and Christian socialist movements that developed around the turn of the century. From the former came Yamakawa Hitoshi, Sakai Toshihiko, and Arahata Kanson, who had all been supporters of Kōtoku Shūsui, an anarchist executed in 1911. Katayama Sen, another early party leader, had been a Christian socialist for much of his political life. The three former anarchists were reluctant to found the JCP, with Yamakawa shortly after arguing that Japan was not ready for a communist party and calling for work to be done solely within labor unions. Katayama's theoretical understanding of Marxism also remained low.[5][6] In the aftermath of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, there was a campaign of rumors instigated by Japanese state authorities that incited widespread massacres of suspected enemies of the state by military, police, and vigilante forces. Military and police officials assassinated key leftist leaders under the cover of martial law, including Ōsugi Sakae.[7]

Outlawed and persecuted

Prominent wartime JCP members from left to right: Kyuichi Tokuda, Sanzō Nosaka and Yoshio Shiga, c. 1945–1946

The JCP was founded as an underground political association. Outlawed in 1925 with the passage of the Peace Preservation Law, the JCP was subjected to repression and persecution by the Special Higher Police (Tokkō), nicknamed the "Thought Police".[8] JCP members and sympathizers were imprisoned and pressured to "convert" (tenkō suru) to anti-communist nationalism.[8] Many of those who refused to convert remained imprisoned for the duration of the Pacific War. The Japanese Communist Party member Hotsumi Ozaki, who was part of the Richard Sorge spy ring for the Kremlin, was the only Japanese person hanged for treason under the Peace Preservation Law.[9] Police also widely used methods of torture against arrested communists. One of the JCP members killed by police torture in this period was the writer Kobayashi Takiji.[7]

The JCP campaigned against the invasion of China and the imperial regime's expansionist policy in Asia.[10]

Postwar reemergence

The JCP was legalized in 1945 by the Allied military occupation of Japan and since then has been a legal political party able to contest elections. In the aftermath of World War II, under the guidance of charismatic party chairman Sanzō Nosaka, the party pursued a policy of portraying itself as "lovable".[11] Nosaka's strategy involved avoiding open calls for violent revolution and taking advantage of the seemingly pro-labor stance of the Allied occupation to organize the urban working classes and win power at the ballot box and through propaganda.[12] In particular, the party was successful in winning acceptance of the notion that communists had been the only ones to resist Japanese wartime militarism.[8] This propaganda effort won the party thousands of new members and an even larger number of sympathizers, especially among artists and intellectuals.[11] The party rapidly built up its strength and in 1949 general election, made unprecedented gains by winning 10% of the vote and sending 35 representatives to the National Diet.

Red Purge and turn to violence

Beginning in the fall of 1949, in reaction to the JCP's electoral success and as part of the "Reverse Course" in Allied occupation policy amid rising Cold War tensions, the Allied occupation authorities and the Japanese government carried out a sweeping Red Purge, firing tens of thousands of communists and suspected communists from government posts, teaching positions at schools, and private corporations.[13] The purge was further intensified in response to the outbreak of the Korean War.[13]

JCP headquarters in 1950. The large banner above the door says "Oppose war!"

Against this backdrop in January 1950, the Soviet-led Cominform, at the behest of Soviet premier Joseph Stalin, issued a blistering criticism of the JCP's peaceful line as "opportunism" and "glorifying American imperialism". It also demanded that the JCP carry out an immediate violent revolution along Maoist lines.[12] This devastating "Cominform Criticism" led rival JCP factions to compete for the Cominform's approval, and ultimately led to the militant "1951 Platform" (51年綱領) which declared that "it would be a serious mistake to think that Japan's liberation can be achieved through peaceful, democratic means" and called for an immediate violent revolution.[12] The result was a campaign of violence in which JCP activists threw Molotov cocktails at police boxes and cadres were sent up into the mountains with instructions to organize ostensibly oppressed farmers into "mountain guerrilla squads".[12]

The backlash to the JCP's new militant line was swift and severe. Militants were rounded up, tried, and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, and in the 1952 general election, Japanese voters vented their ire at the JCP by stripping the party of every single one of its 35 Diet seats, a blow from which it would take two decades to recover.[14] Stunned, the JCP gradually began to pull back from its militant line, a process facilitated by the death of Stalin in 1953.[15] At the 6th Party Congress in 1955, the JCP renounced the militant line completely, returning to its old "peaceful line" of gradually pursuing socialist revolution through peaceful, democratic means.[15]

Anpo protests

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

In 1960, the JCP played a central role in organizing the massive Anpo protests against the U.S.–Japan Security Treaty, which were the largest protests in Japanese history.[16] The JCP took a different line than the Japan Socialist Party, Sohyo labor federation, and other groups who argued that the main target of the protest movement was Japanese monopoly capitalism. Instead, the JCP argued that the main enemy was American imperialism, and along with affiliated groups, focused its protests around the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.[17] Accordingly, JCP-linked groups were the driving force behind the "Hagerty Incident" in which the car carrying U.S. President Eisenhower's press secretary James Hagerty was mobbed outside of Tokyo's Haneda Airport on 10 June 1960, provoking a major international incident and helping to precipitate the downfall of the Nobusuke Kishi cabinet.[17]

The Anpo protests were a turning point in the JCP's ongoing attempts to revive its political fortunes after the disastrous turn toward violent revolution in the early 1950s.[12] Although the Maoists had been purged from the party following the earlier disaster, the JCP was still riven by the age-old rivalry between the Rōnō Ha (Worker-Farmer Faction) and the Kōza Ha (Lecture Faction), which dated back to the prewar era.[12] Among other disagreements, the two factions disagreed over which stage of Marxist development Japan was currently in; the Rōnō Ha believed that Japan had already achieved full capitalism, which meant that an immediate socialist revolution was possible, whereas the Kōza Ha argued that Japan's transition to capitalism was not yet complete and that therefore what was needed was a "two-stage" revolution—first a "democratic revolution" that would overthrow American imperialism and establish true democracy, and then a "socialist revolution" that would establish communism.[15] Although the "mainstream" of the JCP, led by Kenji Miyamoto, favored the Kōza Ha interpretation, as late as the 7th Party Congress in 1958 the "anti-mainstream" Rōnō Ha faction, led by Shōjirō Kasuga, still controlled around 40% of the delegates.[12]

The Anpo protests greatly strengthened the hand of the Kōza Ha faction.[18] During the protest, the JCP, still scarred by the backlash to its violent line in the 1950s, consistently advocated peaceful, orderly, and restrained protests.[18] This stance was highly unpopular with the radical student activists of the Zengakuren student federation, who broke decisively with the JCP as a result and began to build a New Left student movement.[19] However, the movement proved unpopular with the broader public, and the JCP was able to use its image as a "peaceful" and "positive" force during the protests as a recruitment tool. Membership in the party soared during the course of the protests, doubling from 40,000 to 80,000, and most of the new recruits wound up supporting the Kōza Ha line.[18]

Over the remainder of the 1960s, the Kōza Ha was able to purge many members from the Rōnō Ha faction, and others, dissatisfied with JCP policies, quit the party of their own accord.[20] Miyamoto was able to cement his control over the party and reigned as party chairman all the way until 1982. Meanwhile, the party's membership continued to grow rapidly, and the party began to make steady gains at the ballot box, winning more and more seats in the National Diet.[18] By the mid-1960s, the United States Department of State estimated party membership to be approximately 120,000 (0.2% of the working-age population),[21] and the party had acquired around 300,000 members by 1970.[22]

Sino-Soviet split

The party did not take sides during the Sino-Soviet split of the 1960s. Its politics were independent of the Soviet Union. Reflecting this, the party chairman Miyamoto announced the JCP's opposition to the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. At the same time, the party had distanced itself from Mao and Maoism, which allowed it to avoid being associated with China's Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution once they started coming more fully to light in the 1970s. In July 1969, the JCP declared that if it ever came to power, it would permit the free functioning of opposition parties, in an effort to distinguish itself from the one-party states in the Soviet Union and China.[22] In 1976, mentions of "Marxism–Leninism" in the party program were changed to "scientific socialism".[23]

These efforts proved popular among Japanese voters. In the 1972 general election, the JCP won an astonishing 38 seats in the Diet, surpassing its 1949 high of 35 and signaling the party's full recovery from the disastrous militant line of the early 1950s.[24] Party membership continued to grow in the 1970s, albeit at a slower rate than in the 1960s, reaching approximately 500,000 members by 1980.[22]

1980s to 21st century

After the dissolution 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". The party also criticized the Eastern Bloc countries which abandoned socialism, describing their decisions as a "reversal of history".[25] Consequently, the party did not suffer an internal crisis as a result of the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, nor did it consider disbanding or changing its name. However, owing to a significant loss in electoral support, the party revised its policies in the 1990s and became a more traditional democratic socialist party.[26]

Lam Peng Er argued in the Pacific Affairs in 1996 that "the JCP's viability is crucial to the health of Japanese democracy" because "[i]t 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."[27]

In 2008, foreign media recorded an increase in support for the party due to the effect of the global financial crisis on Japanese workers.[28][29] However, the party failed to increase its number of seats in the 2009 general election. Subsequently, the projected decline of the party was halted, with the JCP becoming the third-largest party in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly[30][31] and making gains in the House of Councillors, going from six to 11 seats. The party surged in the 2014 elections, receiving 7,040,130 votes (13.3%) in the constituency section and 6,062,962 (11.37%) in the party lists.

During the nomination period of the July 2016 House of Councillors election, the party signed an agreement with the Democratic, Social Democratic and People's Life parties to field a jointly endorsed candidate in each of the 32 districts in which only one seat was contested, uniting in an attempt to take control of the House from the LDP–Komeito coalition.[32] JCP leaders expressed willingness to enter into a coalition with the Democratic Party, a notion which was rejected by then-Democratic Party President Katsuya Okada as being "impossible" in the near future due to what he viewed as some of the "extreme leftist policies" promoted by the JCP.[33] The party had three Councillors up for re-election and fielded a total of 56 candidates in the election, down from 63 candidates in the 2013 election, but still the second-highest number after the LDP.[34] However, only 14 of those candidates contested single- and multi-member districts, while 42 contested the 48-seat national proportional representation block.[34]

Councillor Tomoko Tamura was appointed as the party's first chairwoman on 18 January 2024, replacing Kazuo Shii who had occupied the role for over 23 years.[35][36]

Ideology and policies

The JCP is one of the largest non-governing communist parties in the world;[37] it is, however, politically moderate and advocates a peaceful transition to communism.[38] Marxism–Leninism, which former party chairman Tetsuzo Fuwa had worked for years to make acceptable to the electorate, was abandoned in favor of scientific socialism in 1976.[39][40] According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, the JCP become a more traditional democratic socialist party after modifying its policies in the 1990s.[26] This analysis is supported by the Japanese political scientist Kōji Nakakita, who is often cited as a specialist on the JCP.[41] However, unlike the Italian Communist Party, which became a social democratic party, the JCP maintains a Marxist ideology.[42] The party sits on the left[43] to far-left[48] of the left–right political spectrum.

Economic policy

The JCP strives to change the nation's economic policy of what it views as serving the interests of large corporations and banks to one of "defending the interests of the people". It advocates establishing "democratic rules" that will check the activities of large corporations and "protect the lives and basic rights of the people".

Regarding the international economy, the JCP has advocated establishing a new international democratic economic order on the basis of respect for each country's economic sovereignty. The party strongly opposed Japan's consideration of the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership. The JCP views the United States, transnational corporations, and international financial capital as the main pushers of globalization, which it asserts is negatively affecting the global economy by further widening the North–South economic divide and creating irrevocable environmental problems. The JCP advocates the "democratic regulation of activities by transnational corporations and international financial capital on an international scale".

In September 2015, after the passage of the 2015 Japanese military legislation, the JCP called for cooperation from other opposition parties to form an interim government to abolish the bills. It was the first time the party had called for such cooperation with other parties.[49][50][51][52]

Social policy

The JCP is generally regarded as the most progressive party in Japanese politics.[53] The JCP has traditionally been opposed to the existence of the Imperial House since its inception. However, the party changed its stance in 2004 by acknowledging the Emperor as Japan's head of state.[25] The JCP has stated that it supports the establishment of a democratic republic, but also that "[the monarchy's] continuation or discontinuation should be decided by the will of the majority of the people in future, when the time is ripe to do so".[54] In 2000, the party opposed legislation which reintroduced two symbolic practices to secondary school graduation ceremonies in Japan, namely the raising of the national flag and the singing of the national anthem, both of which the party views as relics of Japan's militarist past.[55]

LGBT rights and feminism

The JCP has been one of the political parties to vocally back LGBTQ+ rights in the country; Communist lawmakers have been working to win the passage of same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws in parliament. [56] The JCP jointly supports the passing of an LGBT equality law with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and Reiwa Shinsengumi.[57]

The JCP has maintained a friendly relationship with the Japanese feminist camp since its inception, and is still the most active in women's rights issues among Japan's major political parties. The JCP was the first party to call for universal suffrage for women.[58][59][60] The party supports eliminating the wage gap between men and women[61] and has called for the participation of more women in Japanese politics and political life.[62]

Foreign policy

One of the JCP's main objectives is terminating the Japan–United States military alliance and the dismantling of all American military bases in Japan,[62] with a goal to make Japan a non-aligned and neutral country, in accordance with its principles of self-determination and national sovereignty. There are about 130 American military bases and related facilities in Japan, with Okinawa Prefecture alone hosting more than half of United States Forces Japan personnel. The JCP adheres to the idea that Japan, as an Asian country, must not allow its relationship with the United States and the G8 to define its foreign relations and should put its East Asian neighbors at the center of its diplomatic efforts. It supports 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.[63] In the 1930s, while the JCP was still illegal, it was the only political party to vocally oppose Japan's war with China.[64] The JCP supports Japanese territorial claims over the Kuril and Senkaku Islands and Liancourt Rocks.[65][66] Furthermore, the JCP has condemned North Korea's nuclear-weapons testing, calling for effective sanctions, but opposing the prospect of a military response.[67]

In 2020, the JCP revised its platform for the first time since 2004. The new platform criticized the Chinese Communist Party, denouncing China's "great-power chauvinism and hegemonism" as "an adverse current to world peace and progress". The JCP also removed a line from its platform which described China as a country "that is beginning a new quest for socialism". JCP members have stated that this was due to human rights conditions in China. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China denounced the accusations of the JCP as "groundless and biased".[68][69]

The JCP's leading politicians are known to be the most active opponents of anti-Korean racism and xenophobia in Japan. Contemporary JCP politicians criticize mainstream Japanese politicians for instigating contempt towards Korea, and oppose historical revisionism in regard to Korean history and Japanese war crimes. The JCP was one of the few Japanese parties which supported the Korean independence movement. In the latter half of the 1940s, a training school for Korean revolutionaries was operated jointly by the JCP and several Korean organizations, including the Communist Party of Korea.[70] In South Korea, the JCP is known as the only "pro-South Korea" political party in Japan.[71][72][73][74] Although it is illegal to form a communist party in South Korea, Mindan maintains friendly relations with the JCP.[75] In 2003, due to the consideration of the then liberal South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun, formal exchanges between the JCP and the South Korean government began.[76]

Pacifism

The JCP has traditionally championed pacifism.[77] With regards to the Japan Self-Defense Forces (Japan's armed forces), the JCP's current policy is that it is not principally opposed to its existence (in 2000 the party stated that it would agree to its use should Japan ever be attacked), but that it will seek to abolish it in the long term, international situation permitting.[78] The JCP opposes the possession of nuclear weapons by any country, military blocs, and attempts to revise Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which says that "never again ... [will 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 United Nations Charter.[78]

Organization

The party officially upholds democratic centralism. The party constitutions states decisions "shall be based on democratic discussion and finally decided by majority vote" and that "there shall be no factions or splinter groups". Along with Komeito, the JCP is unique amongst major Japanese political parties for the continuity of its leaders, with Shii having served as JCP chairman from 2000 to 2024.[37]

Central organization

JCP Central Committee Building, October 2012

According to the party constitution, the highest body of the JCP is the Party Congress, organized by the Central Committee every 2–3 years, though it may be postponed in special circumstances.[79] Between the congresses, the highest body is the Central Committee, elected by the Party Congress. The Central Committee meets two times every year and can also hold a plenum at the request of one-third of its membership.[79] The Central Committee is made out of regular and alternate members; the latter can precipitate in Central Committee meetings but cannot vote. The Central Committee also elects the executive committee of the Central Committee, and its chairpersons and vice-chairpersons, the head of the Secretariat. The current chairman of the executive committee of the Central Committee of the JCP is Tomoko Tamura. The Central Committee also appoints the Disciplinary Commission and the Audit Commission, and may elect a Central Committee chairperson; the current Central Committee chair is Kazuo Shii.[79]

The executive committee manages party affairs between Central Committee meetings. It appoints the members of the Secretariat, which manages the day-to-day affairs of the party center, and the Central Organ Paper Editors Commission. It also elects the Standing Committee of the executive committee.[79]

Press

Shimbun Akahata (Japanese: Red Flag Newspaper) is the daily organ of the JCP in the form of a national newspaper. Musansha Shinbun (Japanese: Proletarian News) was another publication of the party which was circulated between 1925 and 1929.[80] Several other newspapers preceded and merged into Red Flag, including Daini Musansha Shinbun (Japanese: The Second Proletarian News), which was merged into Red Flag in 1932.[81] Daini Musansha Shinbun was itself the immediate successor to the original The Proletarian News, which was banned by the government in September 1929.[81] Daini Musansha Shinbun began publication immediately after the ban.[81]

In the past, the party published numerous other newspapers as well, including another national paper called Nihon Seiji Shinbun (Japanese: Japan Political News) and a theoretical journal called Zenshin (Japanese: Forward).[82] The party also published several regional newspapers such as Class War in and around Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe, Shinetsu Red Flag in Nagano and Hokkaido News in Hokkaido.[83] They also published numerous (the exact number is unknown) factory newspapers.[84]

Some regional newspapers, such as Shin Kanagawa (Japanese: New Kanagawa) in Kanagawa, are still published.[85]

Affiliated organizations

The youth wing of JCP is the Democratic Youth League of Japan. In the 1920s and 1930s, the organization published several newspapers of its own, including Rēnin Seinen (English: Lenin Youth) and Proletarian Youth.[81]

The party also has affiliate medical and consumer co-ops.[86] The Japanese Consumers' Co-Operative Union (JCCU), the umbrella body of the co-operative movement in Japan, has a sizable number of communists in its ranks, although the exact numbers are difficult to verify.[86] Another example of the JCP's prevalence in the co-operative movement is the Co-op Kanagawa in the Kanagawa Prefecture, which has 800,000 members and has historical ties to the JCP.[86] It still advertises and occasionally is published in JCP newspapers such as Red Flag and New Kanagawa.[86] The prevalence of house unions in Japan as opposed to enterprise unions has prompted much of the exceptional development of other organizations by the JCP, as well as causing the JCP to seek other external organizational support, including from kōenkai.[86]

Official logo of the Japanese Communist Party and the highlighted acronym JCP

The Choir of JCP-fans (JCPファン雑唱団, JCP-fan zassyōdan) is a musical group which supports the JCP. Its repertory and artistic activity are strongly linked to The Singing Voice of Japan (日本のうたごえ, Nihon no utagoe) / うたごえ運動 Utagoe-undō), a musical movement of Japanese working class that dates back to 1948, when the Choir of the Communist Youth League of Japan (日本青年共産同盟中央合唱団, Nihon-seinen-kyōsan-dōmei Chuō-gassyōdan) was established. The group was founded in Kyoto in 2011 and is directed by Tadao Yamamoto, a composer, accordionist, choir director and ordinary member of the National Council of The Singing Voice of Japan. In various cultural events organized by the party, the Choir of JCP-fans appears as an element among the joined choirs of the volunteer singers of The Singing Voice of Japan. As of 2016, the choir is the only organization of Japanese musicians specializing in political support and in the cultural activity of the party.

Notable concerts and performances by the choir include:

Membership

During the 1980s, party membership began to decline, falling to 500,000 by 1990[37] and 370,000 by 1997.[22]

Following its advancement in the 2013 Tokyo prefectural election, the party enjoyed an increase in membership growth, with over 1,000 people joining in each of the final three months of 2013. Approximately 20% of new members during this period were aged 20 to 40, showing a higher ratio of young people joining the party than in the past. The JCP had approximately 320,000 members in January 2014.[93]

More recently, however, membership numbers have declined, with membership around 300,000 in 2017, 270,000 in 2020,[94] and 250,000 in 2024.[95]

Notable members

Takiji Kobayashi, prominent author of proletarian literature

Main article: List of members of the Japanese Communist Party

Pre-war (1922–1941)

Wartime (1941–1945)

Post-war (1945–present)

Leaders

Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Central Committee

No. Photo Name
(Birth–death)
Constituency / title Term of office Prime Minister (term)
Took office Left office
General Affairs Chief Secretary (1922–1923)
1 Arahata Katsuzō
(1887–1981)
None 5 July 1922 1923 Katō To. 1922–1923
Yamamoto 1923–1924
2 Sakai Toshihiko
(1871–1933)
None 1923 1923
Party outlawed by the Government
General Secretary (1945–1970)
1 Kyuichi Tokuda
(1894–1953)
Rep for
Tokyo 2nd
(1946)
Tokyo 3rd
(1947–1950)
3 December 1945 14 October 1953 Shidehara 1945–1946
Yoshida 1946–1947
Katayama 1947–1948
Ashida 1948
Yoshida 1948–1954
2 Sanzō Nosaka
(1892–1993)
Cou for
Tokyo at-large
(1956–1977)
14 October 1953 1 August 1958
Hatoyama I. 1954–1956
Ishibashi 1956–1957
Kishi 1957–1960
3 Kenji Miyamoto
(1908–2007)
None 1 August 1958 7 July 1970
Ikeda 1960–1964
Satō 1964–1972
Chairperson (1970–present)
1 Kenji Miyamoto
(1908–2007)
Cou for
National PR
(1977–1989)
7 July 1970 31 July 1982 Satō 1964–1972
Tanaka K. 1972–1974
Miki 1974–1976
Fukuda T. 1976–1978
Ōhira 1978–1980
Ito 1980 Acting
Suzuki Z. 1980–1982
2 Tetsuzo Fuwa
(born 1930)
Rep for
Tokyo 6th
31 July 1982 29 November 1987
Nakasone 1982–1987
Takeshita 1987–1989
3 Hiromu Murakami
(1921–2007)
Rep for
Osaka 3rd
29 November 1987 29 May 1989
4
(2)
Tetsuzo Fuwa
(born 1930)
Rep for
Tokyo 6th
(1969–1996)
Tokyo PR block
(1996–2003)
29 May 1989 24 November 2000
Uno 1989
Kaifu 1989–1991
Miyazawa 1991–1993
Hosokawa 1993–1994
Hata 1994
Murayama 1994–1996
Hashimoto 1996–1998
Obuchi 1998–2000
Mori 2000–2001
5 Kazuo Shii
(born 1954)
Rep for
Southern Kanto
PR block
24 November 2000 18 January 2024
Koizumi 2001–2006
Abe S. 2006–2007
Fukuda Y. 2007–2008
Asō 2008–2009
Hatoyama Y. 2009–2010
Kan 2010–2011
Noda 2011–2012
Abe S. 2012–2020
Suga 2020–2021
Kishida 2021–present
6 Tomoko Tamura
(born 1965)
Cou for
National PR
18 January 2024 Incumbent

Chairman of the Central Committee

No. Photo Name
(Birth–death)
Term of office
Took office Left office
1 Sanzō Nosaka
(1892–1993)
1 August 1958 31 July 1987
2 Kenji Miyamoto
(1908–2007)
31 July 1982 26 September 1997
3 Tetsuzo Fuwa
(born 1930)
24 November 2000 14 January 2006
4 Kazuo Shii
(born 1954)
18 January 2024 Incumbent

Head of the Secretariat

No. Photo Name
(Birth–death)
Term of office
Took office Left office
1 Tetsuzo Fuwa
(born 1930)
7 July 1970 31 July 1982
2 Mitsuhiro Kaneko
(1924–2016)
31 July 1982 13 July 1990
3 Kazuo Shii
(born 1954)
13 July 1990 24 November 2000
4 Tadayoshi Ichida
(born 1942)
24 November 2000 18 January 2014
5 Yoshiki Yamashita
(born 1960)
18 January 2014 11 April 2016
6 Akira Koike
(born 1960)
11 April 2016 Incumbent

Electoral performance

House of Representatives

Prior to 1996, the entire House of Representatives was elected by majoritarian / "semi-proportional" voting systems with votes cast for individuals (1946: limited voting in multi-member districts, 1947 to 1993 SNTV in multi-member districts). Since 1996, the House of Representatives is elected in a parallel election system—essentially two separate elections only in the lower house complicated by the fact that a candidate may stand in both segments and the sekihairitsu system which ties proportional list ranking to FPTP results: only the majority of members the House of Representatives, 295 (initially 300) seats, are elected in a majoritarian system with voting for candidates (first-past-the-post in single-member districts), while the remaining 180 (initially 200) seats are elected by a proportional representation system (votes are cast for party lists in regional multi-member districts, called "blocks" in the House of Representatives). The votes and vote percentages in the table below are the JCP candidates' vote totals for the whole election from before 1993 and just the votes for the party in the election to the 180 proportional seats after 1996.

The JCP polled 11.3% of the vote in 2000, 8.2% in 2003, 7.3% in 2005, 7.0% in 2009, and 6.2% in 2012. These results seemed to indicate a trend of declining support, but the party won 21 seats in 2014, up from eight in the previous general election, as the JCP received 7,040,130 votes (13.3%) in the constituency section and 6,062,962 (11.37%) in the party lists. This continued a new wave of support that was also evident in the 2013 Tokyo prefectural election in which the party doubled its representation. Fighting on a platform directly opposed to neoliberalism, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, attempts to rewrite the constitution, United States Forces Japan, and nuclear power, the JCP tapped into a minority current that seeks an alternative to Japan's rightward direction.[96] Following the 2016 Japanese House of Councillors election, the party held 13 seats in the House of Councillors.[97] After the 2017 Japanese general election, the party held 12 seats in the House of Representatives, and since the 2021 Japanese general election, it holds 10 seats.

House of Representatives
Election No. of votes % Total seats ± Status
1946 2,135,757 3.8
6 / 464
Opposition
1947 1,002,883 3.7
4 / 466
Decrease2 Opposition
1949 2,984,780 9.8
35 / 466
Increase31 Opposition
1952 896,765 2.5
0 / 466
Decrease35 Extra-parliamentary[a]
1953 655,990 1.9
1 / 466
Increase1 Opposition
1955 733,121 2.0
2 / 467
Increase1 Opposition
1958 1,012,035 2.5
1 / 467
Decrease1 Opposition
1960 1,156,723 2.9
3 / 467
Increase2 Opposition
1963 1,646,477 4.0
5 / 467
Increase2 Opposition
1967 2,190,564 4.8
5 / 486
Steady0 Opposition
1969 3,199,032 6.8
14 / 486
Increase9 Opposition
1972 5,496,827 10.5
38 / 491
Increase24 Opposition
1976 5,878,192 10.4
17 / 511
Decrease21 Opposition
1979 5,625,527 10.4
39 / 511
Increase22 Opposition
1980 5,803,613 9.8
29 / 511
Decrease10 Opposition
1983 5,302,485 9.3
26 / 511
Decrease3 Opposition
1986 5,313,246 8.8
26 / 512
Steady0 Opposition
1990 5,226,987 8.0
16 / 512
Decrease10 Opposition
1993 4,834,587 7.7
15 / 511
Decrease1 Opposition
1996 7,268,743 13.1
26 / 500
Increase11 Opposition
2000 6,719,016 11.2
20 / 480
Decrease6 Opposition
2003 4,586,172 7.8
9 / 480
Decrease11 Opposition
2005 4,919,187 7.3
9 / 480
Steady0 Opposition
2009 4,943,886 7.0
9 / 480
Steady0 Opposition
2012 3,689,159 6.2
8 / 480
Decrease1 Opposition
2014 6,062,962 11.4
21 / 475
Increase13 Opposition
2017 4,404,081 7.9
12 / 465
Decrease9 Opposition
2021 4,166,076 7.2
10 / 465
Decrease2 Opposition

House of Councillors

Elections to the House of Councillors are staggered. Every three years, half of the House is up for election to six-year terms. In addition, a parallel election system is used: the majority of members of the House of Councillors (currently 146 of 242, or 73 in one regular election to one half of the House) are elected in 45 (formerly 46→47) prefectural districts, votes are cast for individual candidates by SNTV, but with both multi- and single-member districts used and in the latter SNTV becomes identical to FPTP (winner-takes-all). The remaining, currently 96 members (48 per regular election) are elected in one nationwide district. Until 1980, votes there were cast for individuals too by SNTV. Since 1983, votes are cast for party lists and the seats are allocated proportionally (d'Hondt) in the nationwide district. Unlike in general elections to the lower house, a candidate may not be nominated in both segments of one regular election to the upper house. The seats totals show below are the JCP's overall post-election seat totals, not just their seats elected in that particular year. The votes shown are the votes in the election for the 48 (formerly 50) seats in the nationwide SNTV/PR segment.

House of Councillors
Election National district votes Total Status
No. of votes % Seats ±
1947 610,948 2.9
4 / 250
Opposition
1950 1,333,872 4.8
4 / 260
Steady0 Opposition
1953 293,877 1.1
2 / 260
-22 Opposition
1956 599,254 2.1
2 / 254
Steady0 Opposition
1959 551,916 1.9
3 / 254
11 Opposition
1962 1,123,947 3.1
4 / 254
11 Opposition
1965 1,652,364 4.4
6 / 254
22 Opposition
1968 2,146,879 5.0
7 / 251
11 Opposition
1971 3,219,307 8.1
10 / 251
33 Opposition
1974 4,931,650 9.4
19 / 260
99 Opposition
1977 4,260,050 8.4
16 / 252
-33 Opposition
1980 4,072,019 7.3
12 / 252
-44 Opposition
1983 4,163,877 8.9
14 / 252
22 Opposition
1986 5,430,838 9.5
16 / 252
22 Opposition
1989 3,954,408 7.0
14 / 252
-12 Opposition
1992 3,532,956 7.9
11 / 252
-33 Opposition
1995 3,873,955 9.5
14 / 252
33 Opposition
1998 8,195,078 14.6
23 / 252
99 Opposition
2001 4,329,210 7.9
20 / 247
-33 Opposition
2004 4,363,107 7.8
9 / 242
-1111 Opposition
2007 4,407,937 7.5
7 / 242
-22 Opposition
2010 3,563,556 6.1
6 / 242
-11 Opposition
2013 5,154,055 9.7
11 / 242
55 Opposition
2016 6,016,245 10.7
14 / 242
33 Opposition
2019 4,483,411 8.95
13 / 245
-11 Opposition
2022 3,618,343 6.82
11 / 248
-22 Opposition

Current members of National Diet

House of Representatives

House of Councillors

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The JCP retained members in the House of Councillors.

References

Citations

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Sources

Books

Journal articles

Further reading