Japanese Communist Party

Published 30th November, 2012

The Japanese Communist Party or or JCP or Nihon Kyōsan-tō was founded in 1922 making it the oldest party currently in Japan. However, it was not legalised until 1945. It describes itself as a Left-wing party and believes in Marxism and Scientific Socialism.

In its first election in 1946 the JCP won six of the 100 seats in the House of Representatives. By 1949 they were up to 35 seats but in a much larger house of 466 seats. The next time they achieved anything like that number of seats was in the election of 1972 when they took 40 of 491 seats and did similarly well in the 1976 and 1979 elections.

But after 1979 the party went into a general decline, dropping down to 26 seats by the 1996 general election. In 2000 they managed 20 seats but it was their last double digit result. In 2003 and 2005 the JCP were down to nine seats in the 480 seat House of Representatives and achieved a similar number of seats in 2009.

In its early years the JCP had tried to use violence in much the same way that other parties had done in other countries, but in Japan it alienated them from the people and their results dropped back. By the 1960s they had broken away from the influence of the USSR and People’s Republic of China and that is why their fortunes seem to have improved. After 1979 Communism seemed less relevant to the modern world and the gentle decline continued. The JCP remains a force partly as a result of the collapse of the Japan Socialist Party and partly because they are able to garner enough votes through the proportional list system (they hold no constituency seats in the National Diet).

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