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