KEY CONSERVATIVE MUST PROVE HIS WORTH FOLLOWING EXPULSION FROM TOP OPPOSITION PARTY
A leading conservative member of Japan’s top opposition, the Democratic Party (DP), was recently a guest on my weekly Internet TV show to discuss the reasons for his decision to leave the party. The party expelled Akihisa Nagashima (55) on April 25, refusing to accept his resignation. Nagashima had previously indicated his readiness to leave the party more than a few times, but had wavered on each occasion. He explained:
“When Ms. Renho (the DP’s incumbent leader) ran for party president last September, I strongly urged her to pull out of campaign cooperation with the Japan Communist Party (JCP). But she took no action before or after being elected.”
Nagashima pointed out that the DP, born in March 2016 out of a merger between the DPJ and two minor opposition parties (the Japan Innovation Party and Vision of Reform), is incapable of implementing long-term strategies, preoccupied with immediate issues such as the “next election” and the “next deliberations at the Diet,” as well as a controversy involving Renho’s dual (Japanese and Taiwanese) citizenship. (Born to a Taiwanese father and a Japanese mother and acquiring Japanese citizenship in 1985, Renho announced last October that she had belatedly taken steps to renounce her Taiwanese citizenship, apologizing for causing the controversy in a nationally-televised news conference.) Nagashima continued:
“The DP now is forging ahead to seek campaign cooperation with the JCP, glossing over all the matters on which it cannot come to terms with the JCP, including the US-Japan Security Treaty, the Self-Defense Forces, the imperial family, private property, energy, and the law against organized crime as it relates to terrorism. It wants its backers to support its strategy on the grounds that it will not seek to seize power jointly with the JCP. But such an approach is not valid because it is not honest with the voters. That is the reason for my final decision.
“Until it came to power in 2009 replacing the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the DPJ had pursued fairly realistic policies. It had been able to formulate credible policies in its effort to assume the reins of government, asking party members for the pros and cons of each argument. As regards the emergency legislation of 2003, the party came to terms with the ruling LDP in passing the bill. In 2015, however, the DP willfully made a political impasse out of the security-related legislation proposed at the time. The party was also bitterly opposed to legislation regulating terrorism. And it also opposed Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP), and an increase in the consumption tax—despite the fact that they initially proposed both of these pieces of legislation. The DP has turned into a party that opposes anything and everything the government proposes.”
Nagashima himself voted against the security legislation, bending his principles to the political pressures of the time—an act for which he now cannot avoid criticism.
“Previously, DPJ members contended with the LDP on their own, keeping the JCP away,” explained Nagashima. “But now, shackled by the JCP and unable to see the political reality facing Japan, the DP cannot engage in constructive deliberations within itself and at the Diet as before. The DP is charging head first towards bipolarization, under which every member must rally under an anti-Abe banner on the understanding that, when Abe leans right, the DP must lean left.”
Nagashima pointed out that within the DP there has been little discussion of campaign cooperation with the JCP, continuing:
“The party leadership is completely preoccupied with the election politics. For instance, a communist candidate got 35,000 votes in my precinct (within the 21 wards in Tokyo) in the last election. The only thing the DP leaders are hoping for is that, if they win the JCP’s cooperation to withdraw its candidate from the precinct in the next election, they will probably be able to see that many votes flow to their candidate. Sadly, that is all they have in mind.
“Despite such fragile party cohesion, the present DP leaders obviously believe they are capable of coming to power by building a two-party system in Japan. Bluntly speaking, they are just spinning their wheels. I personally believe a two-party system in Japan is a mere phantasy, a pipe dream.”
Ultimate JCP Aim: Communizing Japan
How, then, does Nagashima plan to pursue his new political activities? He had this to say:
“I believe it better for Japan to try to form coalition governments comprising several political parties, as in Germany. As for myself, I wish to be a force to promote policies based on realism within a framework of conservative politics.”
Nagashima wrote in the June 2017 issue of the conservative Seiron monthly magazine that he wishes to implement “a ‘philosophy of the middle way’ by encompassing—from a starting point of advocating true conservatism—all ideas right, center, and left in Japanese politics.”
Coming from someone I have known for years, his remarks have left me extremely uncomfortable, I regret to say. Although he did explain he will not simply “add remarks and assertions from the right and the left together and divide them by two,” I certain do not subscribe to his view that Japan should pursue a “middle way” when the world situation is undergoing such a sea change. I wish to find another opportunity to ask him about his preparedness as an independent politician, especially in terms of how he defines “true conservatism.”
Against such a backdrop, are there any other party members planning to follow Nagashima in leaving the DP—a party that obviously has lost sight of its goal? I can easily imagine Eiichiro Washio, Shuji Kira, and Kairo Kitagami leaving the party. What about Kazuhiro Haraguchi, Seiji Maehara, and Goshi Hosono, who all have grievances about the present state of affairs of their party?
In point of fact, I feel it will probably be sooner than later when these politicians will develop a deeper sense of crisis about their party and be inclined to forsake it. The reason is simple. The closer the DP moves toward the JCP, the more quickly it will change until being completely brought under its control.
Compared with the JCP’s 300,000 party members, 20,000 chapters, and 2,800 local assembly members across the nation, the DP is structurally extremely fragile. Once it agrees to cooperate with the JCP, it is bound to be overwhelmed. The JCP is “not an ordinary political party,” as pointed out in A Study of the Japan Communist Party (Sankei Shimbun Publishing Co., Tokyo; 2016). The party is the “Japan chapter” of the Communist Party, inaugurated in 1922 by the Comintern (Communist International) headquartered in Moscow, which aims to spread communist to the whole world.
Historian Kenichi Fukutomi comprehensibly depicts the real nature of the Communist Party in his Fallacy of Communist (Chuo-Koron Shinsha, Tokyo; 2017). At the outset, Fukutomi warns that Japan is the world’s only advanced nation in which the Communist Party is still making relatively big strides, calling the reader’s attention to the fact that the JCP’s platform is “one that has been sanctioned by the Comintern.” The process used by the JCP to formulate its platform is widely different from that of other parties, such as the LDP, which incorporates the ideas and opinions of all its members across the nation.
JCP’s Precarious National Security Policy
What type of nation is the JCP striving to create? On the Prime News program of BS Fuji, JCP General Secretary Akira Koike made a statement effectively saying he “cannot imagine a Japan without the emperor.” But the JCP’s 2014 platform stipulates: “The present imperial system, under which one individual becomes the symbol of the ‘unity of the people’ by heredity, is not compatible with democracy and the principle of equality of all human beings. The imperial system is a constitutional system; whether to maintain or abolish it must be resolved by the full will of the people when a suitable opportunity presents itself in the future.”
Meanwhile in his Guide to the JCP Platform (Shin-Nihon Shuppan Co., Tokyo; 2001), former JCP Chairman Tetsuzo Fuwa explicitly states: “For a thorough implementation of democracy, Japan should do away with its imperial system.” The party’s current chairman, Kazuo Shii, remarked during a seminar on the JCP platform at JCP headquarters in Tokyo on January 10, 2012: “As far as the future direction of Japan’s evolution is concerned, we will aim for a democratic republican system devoid of the imperial system.”
Contrary to Koike’s remarks, it is plain that the JCP as a political party is definitely pursuing the goal of abolishing the imperial household.
Let us now view the JCP’s policies concerning the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). Fukutomi narrows it down to three points. The JCP will: 1) abolish the US-Japan Security Treaty and force the withdrawal of American troops and military bases from Japan; 2) refuse to join any military alliance with foreign nations; and 3) push for a complete enforcement of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution (i.e., disbanding of the JSDF).
These policies of the party will make Japan completely defenseless. Doesn’t the explanation as to why the JCP aims to adopt so dangerous a security policy as this—that the real enemy of the JCP is not foreign nations but Japan—lay bare the true nature of the party? Again, we must remind ourselves that this party came into being 95 years ago as the Japan chapter of the comintern.
Respected commentator Takashi Tachibana noted in his Study on JCP (Volume 2)(Kodansha Bunko, Tokyo; 1983): “The JCP will do its utmost to cause Japan to lose and Russia to win if and when a war breaks out between the two countries. For that purpose, the JCP will fully cooperate with the Red Army, instigating civil strife in response to the Russian offensive against Japan and coordinating its actions with the
Behind the JCP’s “soft” image strategy is its platform derived from the Comintern. Is the DP truly serious about falling in line with such a party? Mr. Nagashima, expelled from the party for objecting to its alliance with the JCP, appears to have no other choice but to continue his fight, putting his political life on the line if necessary.
(Translated from “Renaissance Japan” column no. 753 in the May 18, 20-17 issue of The Weekly Shincho)