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Political Movements in Japan

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In every country, the supreme task of politics is to guarantee the security and peace of that country. Japan is no exception. In its case, however, a fundamental difficulty is that the government and opposition parties are not able easily to find any point of agreement on how the guarantee is to be achieved. This has brought about a political situation peculiar to Japan.

The present Liberal Democratic government follows a national policy based on Japan's international position as a member of the free world, centered around the United States. This policy has remained unchanged ever since the signature of the Japanese Peace Treaty at San Francisco in 1951. In contrast, the Socialist Party, which is the No. 1 opposition party, advocates neutralism. It holds that Japan should disengage from the free world. If the Socialist Party's policy is realized, Japan will without doubt lean toward the Communist camp.

Such differences between the government and the opposition are the factors causing political disputes over the China problem, the talks between Japan and the Republic of Korea, the Viet Nam issue and the problem of revising the Constitution. The disturbances in 1960 over the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty were, on the surface, the most radical development of this situation. Such confrontations can be expected to reach a climax in 1970 when the decision must be made on whether to extend the present Security Treaty.

Foreigners may get the impression of such confusion in the politics of Japan that they conclude the country faces a crisis. I would like to say at once that such a view is mistaken. This is not to say that Japan has attained the ideal in politics. But, relatively speaking, I do believe that Japan has reached a certain political maturity. Of all the countries occupied by the Allied forces after the last war, or which became independent, Japan probably is the only one that has managed to achieve democracy, "rationed out" in our case by the United States. None the less, the course of Japanese politics causes dissatisfaction both within the country and elsewhere. In my opinion, there are three reasons for this.

First, Japan is probably the most highly educated country in the world. There is practically no illiteracy. In every household, the adults read at least one newspaper. The number of TV sets per capita is the highest in the world next to the United States. All this education and intellectual activity have generated a proportionately high interest in politics. Yet this is combined with an extraordinary insularity of view deriving from Japan's physical isolation, the homogeneity of the population, the difficulty of the language and the perhaps anachronistic but continued dependence on Chinese philosophy and traditions. These factors cause the Japanese to seek an impossible ideal in politics and lead to a confusion of purpose-hence the peculiar Japanese "self-reflection" of political leaders when things go wrong.

Secondly, the freedom of speech that was given Japan by the American Occupation has now run riot. The country's mass media, centered around national newspapers with circulations of from four to five million, have no ties whatsoever with the government. Indeed, the mass media seem to view it as their duty continually to assail the government rather than attempt to interpret, with responsibility, the government's policies. Members of the opposition in the Diet show a similar lack of responsibility in attacks on the government. Thus the political picture in Japan is distorted by the mass media and by opposition politicians. Charges of corruption in high places are widely exaggerated. Foreigners receive a certain impression of hysteria in Japanese politics that is fundamentally misleading.

Thirdly, it must never be forgotten that even if Japan is to continue as one of the chief countries of the free world, it also and emphatically is part of Asia. Further, it must not be forgotten that Japan, during the late nineteenth century, suffered from unequal treaties along with China and other Asian nations. I was interested, when visiting India as Prime Minister in 1957, to hear Prime Minister Nehru welcome me by saying that he had first heard of Japan at the time of the Russo-Japanese War. Nehru went on to say that he had assumed Russia would overwhelm Japan because no Asian power was a match for a European power. Japan's victory over Russia inspired him to work for India's independence.

But Japan's role in Asia became filled with contradictions when it tried to emulate the imperialism of the European powers. These adventures weigh on the conscience of many Japanese, while the feeling of belonging to Asia has returned. Among leftists, this feeling has found expression in opposition to the conservative government and to the United States. It goes along with the unrealistic view of international Communism held by people who have not yet really recovered from the shock of defeat. Thus left-wing scholars and critics long for an "Asia for the Asians," criticize the United States and apologize for the Communists. These elements are lending support to Communist designs; still, the reasons for their attitude must be understood and we must discover some means of establishing common ground between them and those who believe Japan's place is in the free world. If we fail in this, the result may be to force people who clearly are not our friends and at the same time not clearly our enemies toward the clearly enemy side. We must hope, then, that politics in Japan may aid her in developing as a member of the free world and as an active participant in the United Nations, while showing understanding and sympathy for what has happened to Asian nations during the past 300 years and for the present predicament of many of them. We can hope that such a development will enable Japan to act as a bridge between Asia and the Western world. We can hope that Japan will be able to contribute to protecting Asia from Communist aggression and also toward the achievement in Asia of democratic societies based on freedom and respect for the individual.

II

With the foregoing as background, let me get down to the facts of politics as revealed in the parties. Japan has three main political parties-the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the opposition Socialist Party and the Komeito Party, the political arm of the Soka Gakkai religious movement.

I am a member of the Liberal Democratic Party and I shall take it up first. The party was formed November 15, 1955. Before that the conservatives were divided into the Liberal Party and Democratic Party while the opposition was divided into left-wing and right-wing socialist parties. After my return to the political world in 1953, I felt most strongly the need to unite and stabilize the conservative forces and to give them long-range policies. At the same time, the opposition Socialists united into one party. It was our hope that the conservative and socialist parties could confront one another and debate issues along the lines of the two-party system in Britain and the United States. I also had hoped originally that the base of both these major parties could be broadened, that the leftist element of the conservative forces might be somewhat more radical than the rightist element of the Socialist Party. This would have enabled a transfer of power from one party to another as happens in the United States without any change in basic policies and without political disturbances. I shall explain later why my view was "a mistaken outlook based on good faith." I shall also explain why the Socialist Party has been unable to fulfill the true function of an opposition party.

This is the tenth year since the L.D.P. was formed and its tenth year in office. Whether this record is based on its real achievements or the errors of the opposition is debatable. However that may be, this decade in office has brought about many problems within the conservative forces and has resulted in the rise of powerful factions and factional struggles within the L.D.P. Perhaps it was inevitable that the absence of a real opposition party would result in this fragmentation. But, domestic politics aside, when we turn to foreign affairs we perceive the necessity for achieving unity inside the party. Warnings against an optimistic view of the international situation have been sounded by myself and Mr. Takeo Fukuda, the present Finance Minister. There is still need to drive this point home. For we must look ahead to the problems of Asia 10 years hence and of the world 20 years hence. When we envisage the role and the responsibility of Japan in this perspective we should not find it impossible to reconcile the internal party factions. The best method, it seems to me, is to find an issue on which all factions can unite in confronting the opposition parties. And I advocate that this issue should be the revision of the clause of the Constitution that bars Japan from formally maintaining armed forces. This issue should be taken up not only as a means of uniting the conservative forces, but also as a means of eradicating completely the consequences of Japan's defeat and of the American Occupation. It is necessary to enable Japan finally to move out of the postwar era and for the Japanese people to regain their self-confidence and pride as Japanese. The true rehabilitation of Japan will begin at this point. Japan cannot be said to have found itself as a nation just because everyone has a TV set, plenty to eat and a higher income.

The revision of the Constitution will be one of the two major issues in Japanese politics during the next few years. The other will be the renewal of the Security Treaty with the United States. This pact, which comes up for renewal in 1970, can be terminated by either side with one year's advance notice. Leftist groups will, of course, make a major effort to prevent its renewal and they will be supported by the U.S.S.R. and Red China. However, I feel that the majority of the people recognize the necessity of a treaty by which we can hope to keep world peace in the future as well as we have during the present term of the treaty. It must be the aim of the conservative forces to deepen this feeling among the people. We must organize a systematic campaign and counter-measures against the arguments and actions of the opposition. I am sure that we shall be able to do this.

A complicating factor is the question of Okinawa. We must face the fact that Japanese national sentiment demands the return of Okinawa, but it is difficult to see how this can materialize soon. We must somehow reconcile a reassertion of Japanese sovereignty in Okinawa with the maintenance of the island as a bastion in the world defensive system of the United States. The United States very naturally fears that the return of Okinawa to Japan would mean the beginning of the end of its usefulness as a military base. The only way to resolve this contradiction is to approach the problem step by step. This calls for restraint by the United States in ruling Okinawa so as not to give the left wing in Japan ammunition for charges that the island is a citadel of American imperialism. The conservative forces, for their part, must combat that impression and help the Japanese people realize that this vast military installation is one of the guarantees of world peace.

III

The Socialist Party has remained the main opposition group despite the breaking away in 1960 of the right-wing element to form the Democratic Socialist Party. The Socialists have the conventional aim of achieving a socialist society and advocate doing this through the working class and particularly the laboring class. The Socialists regard such a change as a revolution, but the party platform says such a revolution need not be carried out through violence or force. Instead, the Socialists hope to assume power by obtaining a majority in the Diet. The party thus claims that its basic difference with the Communist Party in Japan is that the latter advocates revolution through violence.

In advocating the unification of the conservative parties, I also hoped that the Socialists would unite along similar lines. I had believed that the two parties could then agree on the final objective of guaranteeing the peace and security of Japan and that there would be no important differences in the methods for attaining it. This expectation of mine, however, has been completely confounded by the form actually taken by the confrontation between the two major parties. For, as events have demonstrated, the Socialist Party has not developed the capability or the necessary preparation for taking over the reins of government. A political party exists to carry out its principles and policies and to do this by securing control of the government. If the party lacks this capability, its policies will be isolated from reality and it inevitably will lack a sense of responsibility to the people.

The fact is that in past general elections the Socialist Party has never put up enough candidates to gain a majority of the seats in the Lower House of the Diet even if all the Socialist candidates were elected. This is what I mean when I say that the Socialist Party lacks the capability of taking over the government and this is what leads to the irresponsible and unrealistic nature of the Socialist Party policies. Of these, the most irresponsible and dangerous is the party's argument for and conception of neutrality for Japan as a means of guaranteeing the country's security in place of the Security Treaty with the United States. The Socialist Party maintains the extraordinary illusion that an unarmed Japan can exist securely as a neighbor pf Red China and Soviet Russia after renouncing the protective power of the United States and, indeed, as some Socialists put it, condemning the United States as the "common enemy" of Japan and the two Communist states. This policy is so close to fantasy that it has come to be recognized as such even among many intellectuals.

The Socialist Party platform draws a line between Socialism and Communism. But under the new leadership of Kozo Sasaki, the Socialists have vowed to coöperate with the Communists in opposing the peace treaty with the Republic of Korea. This cooperation certainly will be extended to the Security Treaty, and it must be remembered that the Japanese Communist Party has now come under the complete dominance of Peking. Moreover, most of the Socialist Party's present leaders are doctrinaire Marxists. They have maintained the myth that a Communist social structure represents man's highest development and that a democratic society and a Communist society are incompatible. The Socialist Party is probably the only such party in the world that still totally believes in the Marxism of a hundred years ago. The border war between Communist China and India, the Sino-Soviet dispute, the collapse of the second Afro-Asian Conference-these events have only strengthened the socialist faith in neutralism. Here, again, we see the characteristic Japanese tendency toward theoretical idealism and the lack of experience in international affairs.

Unless the Socialist Party makes great strides toward concrete policies and realistic thinking, it probably will not be able even in the future to put up a sufficient number of candidates to obtain a Diet majority. I expect the Socialist Party to continue floundering for the next ten years at least. The majority of eligible voters in Japan are wise enough to perceive instinctively that its principles and policies carry the danger ultimately of putting Japan into the Communist camp.

IV

Komeito (Clean Government Party) was set up in November 1964 as a political arm of Soka Gakkai, the aggressive religious organization that puts absolute faith in the teachings of eleventh-century St. Nichiren, the greatest Buddhist produced by Japan. My knowledge of the religious aspect of the movement is limited, although I was friendly with Josei Toda, one of its founders. (Toda and the main founder, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, were both imprisoned by the militarists during the war, and Makiguchi died in Sugamo Prison). In my analysis, I shall rely on the platforms and policies proclaimed by Komeito.

The leading characteristic of Komeito is that its origins are purely Japanese, unlike the existing political parties and labor unions set up under the guidance of the United States Occupation. Komeito thus reflects the Japanese character of Soka Gakkai, which places faith in St. Nichiren as a Japanese prophet as well as in Buddha.

The second point to note is the astonishing expansion of Soka Gakkai. Five thousand households were members of the organization in 1951. This grew to 74,000 households in 1953, 307,000 households in 1955, 765,000 households in 1957, and 5,203,000 households in 1964. Among the members are American military personnel at Yokosuka and Fuchu as well as followers in the United States itself and South Korea. Since the total number of eligible voters in Japan, as announced by the Home Affairs Ministry on July 1, is 61,672,742, it follows that one-sixth of the voters are members of Soka Gakkai. Moreover, if 70 percent of those eligible actually vote, nearly one-fourth of the eligible votes would be cast by Soka Gakkai members, since it is said that among members abstention is almost non-existent.

In the 1962 Upper House election, Soka Gakkai succeeded in electing all of its nine candidates. In the local elections held in 1963, it put up 971 candidates, of whom 97 percent were elected. In the Upper House election this past July, 80 percent of Komeito's 14 candidates were elected, thus raising the number of seats held in the house to 20, including the nine members not up for reëlection. It thus becomes the third largest group in the Upper House, after the Liberal Democratic and Socialist Parties. In the July elections for the 120 members of the Tokyo Municipal Assembly, Komeito elected all its 23 candidates.

What is the secret behind such a surprising development? Among the Soka Gakkai members are bar hostesses, clerks, taxi drivers, employees of medium and small enterprises, and laborers in coal mines, which now face depression. Soka Gakkai could thus be said to have grasped the dissatisfaction and sense of instability among the unorganized workers and classes not participating in the present Japanese prosperity. Also, it could be said that the feeling of danger-of distrust of politics-that grips so many of our youth has found an outlet in the aggressive ideology of Soka Gakkai.

If this is so, it must be said that the progress made by Soka Gakkai indicates the need for deep "self-reflection" in the existing political parties, especially the Liberal Democratic Party. Although its rate of increase is said to have slackened somewhat recently, we should not take the simple view that the organization, made up as it is chiefly of people in the lower classes of society, will disappear once they come to share in the current prosperity.

However, the splendid development of Soka Gakkai itself must be judged on a different basis from the policies of Komeito. Frankly speaking, the ideals and policies of Komeito as a political party are extremely vague. Distrust toward existing parties and politicians is strongly voiced in its platform and in the writings of Daisaku Ikeda, the current president of Soka Gakkai. There is no denying that these have been drawn up hurriedly and show signs of immaturity. For one thing, the words used are extremely novel, such as "global racial principle," "human socialism" or "Buddhist democracy," expressions which have not until now been found in the Japanese language.

Komeito's advocacy that "the Japan-U.S. security setup should naturally be erased" means, according to Takehisa Tsuji, its chairman, that "efforts will be made to realize an international environment not necessitating a Japan-U.S. security setup." This cannot be called a policy. The politicians of the world are worried day and night by the problem of how to establish an international environment which will make unnecessary measures such as the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty or NATO.

Komeito makes a similar mistake in connection with revision of the Constitution. It defines its basic policy of opposition as "not aimed to protect the Constitution in order to institute a socialist Constitution as advocated by the Socialist Party. But we strongly oppose the revision planned by the Liberal Democratic Party which would be forced upon the people in order to foster rearmament and oppress human rights." Since the aims of the Liberal Democratic Party do not include rearmament or oppression of human rights, Komeito's policy is clearly dogmatic, self- complacent and immature.

It is said that Komeito plans to put forward 35 to 40 candidates in the next general election. At the recent Upper House election, three of the five Komeito candidates who ran from local constituencies were defeated, probably indicating that the foundation of the established parties remains strong and that the public is critical of religious organizations that enter the political world. Accordingly, it is doubtful whether in a general election the rate of Komeito voters will be as high as heretofore.

Komeito says: "We are not a conservative party or a socialist party. The value of our party is to play the role of a stimulant and a watchdog so that the two other parties will free themselves from corruption and conduct sound politics."

The prospects are that Komeito in the future will act in parliament as a critical and pressure party. We can make no guess as to whether it will become a second conservative party or will incline toward radical authoritarianism. The gifted and astute president of Soka Gakkai, Daisaku Ikeda, professes not to consider the latter possibility a threat. The Chairman of Komeito claims that "the Komeito is a bulwark against Communism." Doubtless that is so, but so long as its policies are so immature, it will have to be careful not to conduct its political activities just to suit the occasion.

The political situation in Japan will probably develop in the direction of making Japan a bridge between Asia and Europe and the United States. The basic condition for this will be that the world's free forces have overwhelming superiority over the Communist forces. In Cuba, the Congo and elsewhere, it has been the military superiority of the free world, especially that of the United States, which has prevented war from occurring. If the military gap between the free world and the Communist world should narrow as a result of dissolution of the Japan-United States Security Treaty, the danger of war will be increased. The present situation should be maintained as a necessary factor in maintaining the absolute superiority of the free world.

Communism, which is opposed to human nature, will either change from the inside or collapse if it is obliged to coëxist long enough alongside a free society. Japan's interest is to add to the enduring solidarity and strength of the free world; and its duty, as a nation of Asia, is by its own example to carry the conviction to the Afro-Asian peoples that the ideals of freedom and democracy will without fail win over Communism. Japan should be the show-window in Asia of freedom and democracy.

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