Japanese Communists Score Big Electoral Gains

By Jim Genova, in People's Weekly World, 20 May, 1995, p. 14

The Japanese Communist Party (JCP) now holds more elected local government seats than any other political party in Japan following the April 23 local elections. In those elections, the JCP was able to pass the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ - formerly the Socialist Party of Japan), putting it in a promiment position in the country's political life.

According to the JCP, they succeeded because the Party "called for changing the course of local poltics from giving priority to large-scale development projects, which are in the interests of general contractor construction companies and big business at the sacrifice of the residents' interests, to giving priority to residents' living conditions and to welfare and education."

The JCP criticized the "bad governments" run by the LDP and SDPJ, which are embroiled in widespread corruption scandals. The JCP stressed its reputation as an "honest" party with a clean reputation - untained in the scandals sweeping the country.

As a result, the JCP now holds 3,959 seats in town halls, wards and prefectures - an increase of 23 and only three shy of its record set in 1989. The JCP also won a number of mayoralties and regained its right to introduce legislation in a number of local assemblies - a party must hold one-eighth of the seats to propose legislation.

This election could spell the final demise of the parties which have dominated Japanese politics for 40 years. The ruling parties have been hit with massive defections, splits and other vicious infighting as scandals involving bribery, embezzlement, murder and connections with organized crime have brought one government after another to its knees in recent years.

Even the "new" parties, such as the New Frontier Party, Sakigake and Komei, which were supposed to be the representatives of the "honest" elements within the old ruling parties, have come under fire for corruption.

The JCP said it is now gearing for the next general elections "which could be called at any time."

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