ATAMI, Japan – Approximately 1,000 delegates representing 400,000 members of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), meeting here at the party’s 23rd congress, voted Jan. 17 to adopt the party’s revised program and a resolution outlining its basic domestic policies and its approach to world politics. The congress was also attended by 24 guests from 14 countries, including Communist Party USA Vice Chair Scott Marshall. Atami, a town of about 44,000, is located 60 miles southwest of Tokyo.

The JCP congress addressed domestic problems, such as wage cuts, plant closings, forced overtime (much of which is unpaid), curtailment of social services, and increases in the cost of health care. Also singled out for criticism were government proposals for an increase in the national sales tax, continuing environmental degradation, and the economic crisis facing farmers and fishermen.

The congress condemned the new military strategy of the Bush administration, including its preemptive attack strategy, its unilateralism, and its creation of new forms of colonialism involving the overthrow of other governments by military force and occupation. The congress also denounced the Bush administration’s threat of using military force, including the use of a new generation of smaller nuclear weapons, to dominate potential competitors.

The main political resolution calls for a struggle to break away from the Japanese government’s “extraordinary subordination to the United States,” which it characterizes as a major task facing Japan in the 21st century. Key steps include the elimination of U.S bases from Japan, blocking Japan’s participation in the missile defense strategy, and opposing the dispatch of Japan’s Self Defense Force to Iraq (a measure that violates Article 9 of the constitution that prohibits the use of military force to resolve international conflicts). The JCP also opposes efforts by Prime Minister Koizumi to amend Article 9 so as to legitimize the build-up of a Japanese military force for use abroad.

The resolution sharply condemns Bush’s war on Iraq. In the discussion that followed, speaker after speaker denounced the war and the dispatching of Japanese troops to Iraq.

In presenting the draft of the new JCP program, Central Committee Chair Tetsuzo Fuwa said the party will best be able to face the difficult problems of the 21st century by equipping itself with policies for democratic changes aimed at meeting the immediate needs of the people, combined with a program that sets forth the prospects of a future society that overcomes capitalism.

The report on the draft political resolution, presented by JCP Executive Committee Chair Kazua Shii, focused on the party’s political strategy and activities in preparation for the House of Councilors election scheduled for July. “The vital task is for the JCP to win at least five seats in the proportional representation constituency.” He said that to achieve this goal the party must receive 1.3 times the votes it obtained in the recent election for the House of Representatives, where it now holds nine seats after receiving 7.8 percent of the vote.

Another point in the resolution deals with the dangerous situation of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. Cautioning against any forms of “brinkmanship,” the resolution emphasizes the importance of denying the United States any “pretext for making a lawless preemptive attack” against North Korea or other countries in the region. The resolution stresses that the question “must be resolved by diplomatic and peaceful means, and it is important to thwart all moves leading to war.”

The JCP called for strengthening the international campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide. The resolution restates the JCP’s opposition to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which, it says, “allows a few nuclear powers to maintain their monopoly over nuclear weapons.”

The congress gave high priority to expanding the circulation of the party’s daily newspaper, Akahata, and its role in the growth of the party. The paper, with a daily circulation of 300,000, is hand-delivered door-to-door to its subscribers by 140,000 party members. Still more members participate in delivery of the paper to the 1.73 million subscribers to the Sunday edition.

The reasoned and spirited commitment to a socialist future for Japan displayed throughout the congress may help explain why the Japanese Communist Party is the largest Communist Party in any developed capitalist country.

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