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Downplayed in the media? The advance of small parties in Japan opposing war, poverty and nuclear power

kazuo shii jcp leaderThe Japanese Communist Party doubled its seats in the lower house of parliament as its strong stance against war, poverty and nuclear power provided a clear opposition to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies. The small rightwing parties that support a more robust security stance were wiped out. (JCP chairman, Kazuo Shii, left.)

Mari Miura, a professor of political science at Sophia University, attributed the lower turnout to the lack of a clear alternative to the LDP, especially with respect to the growth policy, “made the electorate give up on political participation”. But Tomoaki Iwai, a professor of politics at Nihon University in Tokyo, pointed out that the JCP opposition party with 320,000 members and as the third largest party in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly really does: “It will be the choice of disgruntled voters”.

japan nuclear power demoKazuko Takahashi, an 84-year-old pensioner living in Tokyo, said she voted for the JCP because she was worried about changes to Japan’s pacifist constitution. “I don’t want another war. My generation still remembers the war, and I can’t let things return to that.” The Japanese Communist Party (JCP), whose pacifist, anti-nuclear platform provided the clearest opposition to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies, advocates:

  • the establishment of a society based on socialism, democracy, peace, and opposition to militarism;
  • the achievement of these objectives by working within a democratic framework in order to achieve its goals;
  • furthering the struggle against “imperialism and its subordinate ally, monopoly capital”;
  • staying out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership;
  • replacing a sales-tax increase planned for 2017 with a rise in income tax;
  • opposing the restarting nuclear power plants closed after the 2011 Fukushima disaster;
  • seeking to stop the construction of a new U.S. military base on the island of Okinawa.
  • a “democratic revolution” to achieve “democratic change in politics and the economy”;
  • a firm defence of Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan
  • and “the complete restoration of Japan’s national sovereignty”, which it sees as infringed by Japan’s security alliance with the United States.

In the 2013 upper house elections the JCP became ‘a new 11-seat force’ and recovered the right to submit bills to the Diet, granted to parties with 10 seats or more. It acquired seats in the electoral districts of Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, receiving a total of 10.79 million votes.

David Pilling (FT) also adds news of the advance of the pacifist Komeito party – currently the junior partner of the ruling coalition, commenting that, “in terms of the security policies that are dearest to Mr Abe’s heart, the seats gained by Komeito, a party with a strong Buddhist support base, are just as worrying”. He believes that Mr Abe will now almost certainly have to abandon the ambition of abolishing Article 9 of the constitution.

Will the May 2015 election in Britain see small parties, working for the public good, gain ground?


Is American aggression now centred on IT-informed commerce and industry?

Will future military action be confined to relatively inexpensive drone strikes?

Indian official quoted in the Hindu: “If the American intelligence agencies and business corporations are hunting in pairs, we are bound to lose”The Hindu According to a top secret document disclosed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and obtained by The Hindu, the PRISM programme has been deployed by the American agency to gather key information from India by tapping directly into the servers of tech giants which provide services such as email, video sharing, file transfer and social networking services.

The document also records that NSA collected data about subjects ranging from oil to WTO to government policies from several Asian, African and Latin American countries, making it clear that the American spying was focused on commercial and business areas, and not on its stated objective of national security.

America uncovered – endangering food safety, access to medicines and national sovereignty?

FT header 2 

A few days ago David Pilling and Shawn Donnan noted in the Financial Times that some suspect American goals are geopolitical as much as commercial. In an article focussing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it was said that opponents see TPP as a “giant corporate power grab” that would endanger food safety, access to medicines and national sovereignty.

They record that China’s official media have said that the TPP process involves the US in “corralling Pacific nations against Beijing’s interests”, adding that Vali Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, argues that the US, through its parallel free-trade talks with Europe, “is trying to block off the two biggest areas of global gross domestic product from what Washington considers its main rival”.

Initiatives by the Masters of the World, groundwork done by their lobbyists

Not just a game

Not just a game

America has initiated an EU-US trade deal and both negotiations exclude the people of the states involved. As a comment on the FT article says: “Most of this has been negotiated behind closed doors, including excluding politicians from member states from participating in discussions, and by all accounts Obama wants to further restrict access and opportunity for politicians (who theoretically represent the people) from having input”.

According to Josh Wise, writing in Minnesota’s ‘Star Tribune, theseso-called “free-trade agreements” are going to continue to be a tool for multinational corporations to further deregulate themselves and hamstring local governments and communities in protecting their quality of life”.

He ends, ”Until we can break the corporate stranglehold on trade treaty negotiations, then regardless of who is in the White House or Congress, these deals are only going to continue the global race to the bottom for wages, the environment and consumers”.

The Hindu believes that the flattering rhetoric of close strategic partnerships has been ‘busted’ – will other nations ‘get wise’ and look at actions ‘on the ground’ and their consequences?


TPP – 1: intensifying the corporate-political nexus or ‘open, free, transparent and fair’?

In 2007, negotiations began for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a significantly expanded version of the 2005 agreement, encompassing a larger group of countries. At its heart is the intellectual property chapter with a long section on patents.

Other sections:

  • Internet – regulation
  • Health – focus on patents and pharmaceutical data protection
  • Agriculture – plant patents & technical test data
In November 2011 a smiling President Obama formally launched the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In the Financial Times David Pilling quoted the noble announcement by Obama’s right hand in many disturbing ventures, Hillary Clinton: “We must create a rules-based order – one that is open, free, transparent and fair.”

America, she says, is uniquely placed to create such an order and to police it. “We are the only power with a network of strong alliances in the region, no territorial ambitions, and a long record of providing for the common good.”

Currently involved:

Yesterday Reuters reported that the United States is hosting the 14th round of negotiations on the proposed TPP pact outside Washington with Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. Canada and Mexico will join the negotiations when countries meet for their 15th round in December.

The TPP aims to abolish traditional trade barriers and address concerns about “state-owned enterprises” that increasingly compete with private companies.

In August 2012, Robert Naiman of the Huffington Post reported that Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders said that promoting restrictive trade policies would make it much harder for patients, governments and treatment providers like MSF to access affordable, life-saving price-lowering generic drugs: “[T]he U.S. is asking countries to create new, enhanced and longer patent and data monopoly protections for multinational pharmaceutical companies so they can keep competitors out of the market and charge higher prices for longer.”

An accurate summary?

Dean Baker, co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) -largely funded by American unions and charitable foundations – wrote last month in the Guardian:

“In reality, the deal has almost nothing to do with trade: actual trade barriers between these countries are already very low. The TPP is an effort to use the holy grail of free trade to impose conditions and override domestic laws in a way that would be almost impossible if the proposed measures had to go through the normal legislative process.

“The expectation is that by lining up powerful corporate interests, governments will be able to ram this new “free trade” pact through legislatures on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. As with all these multilateral agreements, the intention is to spread its reach through time. That means that anything the original parties to the TPP accept is likely to be imposed later on other countries in the region, and quite likely, on the rest of the world”#



TPP – 2: One of many actions being taken to address the dangers of increased corporate control

The message about Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), from Iain Keith of Avaaz warns that it is a device to protect investors from government regulation, undermining protections for air and water safety, attacking Internet freedom attack and ‘steamrolling’ efforts to produce generic affordable medicines. Sanctions would be imposed in an international tribunal.

Big Tobacco, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Walmart and almost 600 other corporate lobbyists are all in on the final draft — including limits on smoking laws, affordable medicines and free speech on the Net.

His conclusion:

It’s clear this “trade” agreement is skewed to put corporate profit above people’s needs — that’s not surprising since it’s been drafted in secret with almost 600 corporate lobbyists.

They are working to inform and mobilise public opposition to add to Australia’s objection to the international tribunal system and New Zealand’s opposition to the takeover of its medicine-pricing protections that keep drugs affordable.


To this end AVAAZ has mounted a petition: