At stake in Ukraine is the future of globalized capitalism / by Samir Saul and Michel Seymour

Photo by Dmytro Smolienko/Ukraine Territorial Defense Forces/Twitter

Originally published in Canadian Dimension on November 30, 2022

Ukraine is only one front in an all-round confrontation

The far-reaching war in Ukraine is only one phase of a world-wide conflict that began earlier. In international relations, the driving forces are often obscured by surface occurrences, such as immediate military events and the din of apologetic or denunciatory rhetoric. What is at stake in Ukraine is not Ukraine: it is the future of globalized, neoliberal, financialized, US-ruled capitalism, the model that has been in place since the 1980s. While the parties gear up for the next stage of the fighting, while moronic propaganda continues unabated, even as public attention has dwindled, it is important to get to the root causes.

Hierarchical global economy

Globalization was the expedient found as a way out of the impasse faced by the Western economy following the exhaustion of the postwar economic boom. Capitalism was restructured and its territorial base broadened. As productive activities became less profitable, they were relocated to the “developing” world. The West reserved for itself the command functions, military industries, high technology and the more profitable sectors of finance and services.

Neoliberal globalism is hierarchical. At the top, the United States rules the system, uses the dollar to drain the world’s resources for its own benefit, and retains the key role of military arm of the whole structure. At the second rung, Europe, Japan and Canada reproduce the US formula and are progressively deindustrialized, financialized and service-sector oriented, while their foreign and military policies are integrated into those of the United States. At the bottom of the ladder, the rest of the world, more than 80 percent of humanity, is expected to produce industrial goods and raw materials in subcontracting economies.

The elites of the second-tier countries are in a subordinate position and are expected to bite the bullet in disputes with the US, but they are nonetheless beneficiaries of globalized capitalism, and thus are self-interestedly loyal to the US leader, no matter what the cost to their people and to their countries’ independence. Under the effect of Americanization they tend to merge with their American counterparts. As for the elites of the lowest-ranking countries, their share in globalization is, with individual exceptions, the smallest, and their countries’ room for maneuver the most limited.

The tribulations of American-centric globalism

They are of two kinds, one economic, the other political. Hailed at the outset as a guarantee of limitless and endless prosperity, financialized neoliberal globalization revealed its nature as a casino economy in crises and bubble bursts with international repercussions, notably in 1987, 1994, 1997 and 2008. Moreover, as was to be expected, the economies that produce material goods did not take kindly to their subordinate status to the rentier economies at the top of the pyramid. Their interests were translated politically in a desire for autonomy expressed through their states.

But globalization requires the compliance of states, their openness to external intervention and the loss of whole components of their sovereignty. The unipolar world knows only the state of the American hegemon, the others being only local extensions. It is monolithic and cannot tolerate autonomous tendencies, let alone withdrawals or disconnections, the risk being that a successful case set an example and led to a chain reaction of imitations.

Herein lies the motive of regime change operations in Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen over the last 30 years: to destroy states so as to dislocate societies and set back economies in order to remove the means of possible autonomy.

Russia and China

The same method is being applied to Russia and China, with military pressure by means of Ukraine and Taiwan, economic threats, media campaigns and attempts at regime change. The strengthening of these two countries coincides with the relative weakening of the US, so much so that their submission becomes a precondition for continued US hegemony. Failure would expose American-centric globalism to eventual unraveling. Without disguise, Biden’s National Security Strategy, made public in October 2022, sets the sequence: put down Russia, then do the same to China.

Bleeding Russia white and inducing it to crumble is the proclaimed policy of the US. The objective is destabilization and internal collapse. This amounts to posing an existential threat to the Russian state and to Russia as a country, a situation explicitly provided for in its doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons. A Third World War looms as the outcome of this strategy.

In the event that nuclear war is avoided, an American success against Russia would prolong US hegemony and weaken China, itself destined for the same treatment. A breakup of Russia would represent the worst calamity in that country’s history, already strewn with disasters overcome at great cost. The Yeltsin years would look blessed by comparison. On the sidelines, disoriented and adrift, Europe will have its hands full rescuing its economy jeopardized by anti-Russian sanctions. It would be an understatement to qualify these stakes as enormous.

The conflict between the US and Russia is fought out in Ukraine but its scope is much wider. Can US-defined globalization continue? Can another form of globalization replace it? Can globalization be non-hierarchical? At the same time, Ukraine is only one front in an all-round confrontation pitting a dominant power, the US, and two other powers standing in its way, Russia and China. In Taiwan, a similar scenario is taking shape. Moreover, Ukraine and Taiwan are not the sole bones of contention between Washington, Moscow and Beijing. There are and will be others as Russia and China close the gap with the US and the latter strives to enlarge it by all means available, including force.

Samir Saul is a professor of history at the University of Montreal. Michel Seymour is a retired professor at the same university.

A different version of this article first appeared in Le Devoir.

‘A new way of life’: the Marxist, post-capitalist, green manifesto captivating Japan / by Justin McCurry

Kohei Saito’s book Capital in the Anthropocene, inspired by Karl Marx’s writings on the environment, has become a surprise hit in Japan | Image:

Originally published in The Guardian on September 9, 2022

Kohei Saito’s book Capital in the Anthropocene has become an unlikely hit among young people and is about to be translated into English.

New English Edition
Cambridge University Press, 2023

The climate crisis will spiral out of control unless the world applies “emergency brakes” to capitalism and devises a “new way of living,” according to a Japanese academic whose book on Marxism and the environment has become a surprise bestseller.

The message from Kohei Saito, an associate professor at Tokyo University, is simple: capitalism’s demand for unlimited profits is destroying the planet and only “degrowth” can repair the damage by slowing down social production and sharing wealth.

In practical terms, that means an end to mass production and the mass consumption of wasteful goods, such as fast fashion. In Capital in the Anthropocene, Saito also advocates decarbonization through shorter working hours and prioritizing essential “labour-intensive” work, such as caregiving.

‘I was as surprised as everyone else’
Few would have expected Saito’s Japanese-language solution to the climate crisis to have much appeal outside left-wing academia and politics. Instead, the book — which was inspired by Karl Marx’s writings on the environment — has become an unlikely hit, selling more than half a million copies since it was published in September 2020.

As the world confronts more evidence of the effects of climate change — from floods in Pakistan to heat waves in Britain — rampant inflation and the energy crisis, Saito’s vision of a more sustainable, post-capitalist world will appear in an academic text to be published next year by Cambridge University Press, with an English translation of his bestseller to follow.

“It is broadly about what’s going on in the world … about the climate crisis and what we should do about it,” Saito said in an interview with The Guardian. “I advocate for degrowth and going beyond capitalism.”

The mere mention of the word “degrowth” conjures negative images of wealthy societies plunged into a dark age of shrinking economies and declining living standards. Saito admits that he thought a book that draws on strands of Marxism as a solution to modern-day ills would be a tough sell in Japan, where the same conservative party has dominated politics for the best part of 70 years.

“A new way of life”: the Marxist, post-capitalist, green manifesto captivating Japan | Photo by Dimitry B.

“People accuse me of wanting to go back to the [feudal] Edo period [1603-1868] … and I think the same sort of image persists in the U.K. and the U.S.,” he said. “Against that background, for the book to sell over 500,000 copies is astonishing. I was as surprised as everyone else.”

The 35-year-old needn’t have worried about using the language of radical change; as the world emerges from the pandemic and confronts the existential threat posed by global heating, disillusionment with the economic status quo has given him a receptive audience.

The pandemic has magnified inequalities in advanced economies, and between the Global North and South — and the book struck a nerve with younger Japanese.

“Saito is telling a story that is easy to understand,” says Jun Shiota, a 31-year-old researcher who bought Capital in the Anthropocene soon after it was published. “He doesn’t say there are good and bad things about capitalism, or that it is possible to reform it … he just says we have to get rid of the entire system.

“Young people were badly affected by the pandemic and face other big issues, such as environmental destruction and the cost of living crises, so that simple message resonates with them.”

Saito agrees that growing inequality has given his writing more immediacy. “Many people lost their jobs and homes and are relying on things like food banks, even in Japan. I find that shocking. And you have essential workers who are forced to work long hours in low-paid jobs. The marginalization of essential workers is becoming a serious issue.”

The response to COVID-19 had shown that rapid change is not only desirable but possible, he says.

“One thing that we have learned during the pandemic is that we can dramatically change our way of life overnight — look at the way we started working from home, bought fewer things, flew and ate out less. We proved that working less was friendlier to the environment and gave people a better life. But now capitalism is trying to bring us back to a ‘normal’ way of life.”

‘Marx was interested in sustainability’

Saito is deeply skeptical of some widely accepted strategies for tackling the climate emergency. “In my book, I start a sentence by describing sustainable development goals [SDGs] as the new opium of the masses,” he said in reference to Marx’s view of religion.

Kohei Saito is pictured on Sept. 17, 2020, in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

“Buying eco bags and bottles without changing anything about the economic system … SDGs mask the systemic problem and reduce everything to the responsibility of the individual while obscuring the responsibility of corporations and politicians.”

“I discovered how Marx was interested in sustainability and how non-capitalist and pre-capitalist societies are sustainable because they are realizing the stationary economy, they are not growth-driven,” Saito said.

Since the book was released, Saito has made Japan noticeably less squeamish about the German philosopher’s ideas.

The conservative public broadcaster NHK gave him four 25-minute segments to explain his ideas for its Masterpiece in 100 Minutes series, while bookshop chains cleared space for special displays of revivalist Marxist literature.

Now he hopes his message will appeal to an English-language readership.

“We face a very difficult situation: the pandemic, poverty, climate change, the war in Ukraine, inflation … it is impossible to imagine a future in which we can grow the economy and at the same time live in a sustainable manner without fundamentally changing anything about our way of life.

“If economic policies have been failing for 30 years, then why don’t we invent a new way of life? The desire for that is suddenly there.”

Justin McCurry is the Guardian’s Tokyo correspondent

Kohei Saito received his Ph.D. from Humboldt University in Berlin. He is currently associate professor of political economy at Osaka City University. He has published articles and reviews on Marx’s ecology, including “The Emergence of Marx’s Critique of Modern Agriculture,” and “Marx’s Ecological Notebooks,” both in Monthly Review. He is working on editing the complete works of Marx and Engels, Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (MEGA) Volume IV/18, which includes a number of Marx’s natural scientific notebooks.

Read more by Kohei Saito…

Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capital, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy

Marx’s Ecological Notebooks

Why Ecosocialism Needs Marx

See also….

The Japanese Communist Party Has Been a Vital Presence in Japan’s Politics / by Kenji Hasegawa

Secretary General of the Japanese Communist Party Kyuichi Tokuda addresses Japanese soldiers, repatriated after World War II, in Tokyo, Japan, on July 6, 1949. (PhotoQuest / Getty Images)

Originally published in Jacobin, July 15, 2022

The Japanese Communist Party turns 100 today. Its activists challenged the authoritarian emperor system of prewar Japan, and it remains an important countervailing force in a deeply conservative and conformist political culture.

Today’s Japanese Communist Party (JCP) may hold only a small fraction of the seats in Japan’s parliament, the National Diet. However, it exudes a presence as an outspoken critic and watchdog of the ruling regime that is disproportionate to its size.

In 2019, for example, the JCP newspaper Akahata reported that the late conservative prime minister Abe Shinzō had privately invited numerous political supporters to the state-funded “cherry blossom viewing event” for honoring meritorious achievements. The following year, it revealed that Abe’s successor, Suga Yoshihide, had blocked the appointment of six scholars to the Science Council of Japan due to their political views. Both revelations triggered widespread public outrage against corruption and abuse of power by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) cabinet.

From its establishment by the Communist International one hundred years ago, whose leaders hoped that it would lead a proletarian revolution in Japan, the JCP has undergone multiple transformations. It has survived into the post–Cold War period as a small but significant countervailing force against the excesses of the country’s political powerholders. As Japan’s oldest political party, it is a unique player on the domestic scene, with few if any true counterparts in the developed capitalist world.

The Origins of Japanese Communism

Japan’s socialist movement started amid harsh state repression in the late nineteenth century with the country’s emergence as an imperial and industrial power. In 1898, Katayama Sen, Kōtoku Shusui, and others formed the Socialist Study Group. Three years later, they established the Social Democratic Party, Japan’s first socialist political party, which was banned shortly after its foundation.

As Japan’s oldest political party, the Japanese Communist Party is a unique player on the domestic scene, with few if any true counterparts in the developed capitalist world.

In 1903, Kōtoku Shusui and Sakai Toshihiko formed the socialist group Heiminsha. It became a vocal opponent of the Japanese war against Russia that broke out the following year, and the authorities forced it to disband within two years. In 1910, the year when Japan formally annexed its neighbor Korea, the imperial government uncovered a plot to assassinate the emperor and responded by opportunistically arresting and convicting a group of socialists, including Kōtoku and others unrelated to the plot.

Kōtoku and eleven others were executed in what became known as the High Treason Incident. Katayama fled to the United States, while Sakai and others kept a low profile in Japan, publishing works that avoided provoking the wrath of the watchful state authorities.

The social disruptions linked to the economic boom and bust of World War I ushered in a new era of activism. In 1918, nationwide riots erupted over the soaring price of rice. The following year, massive anti-imperial protests broke out in Korea and China, while in Moscow, the Bolsheviks and their allies established the Communist International, or Comintern, with the aim of exporting communist revolution across the world.

The Comintern communicated with Japanese collaborators through two routes from Moscow: a “western route” via the United States and an “eastern route” via Siberia and Shanghai. The Shanghai-based Grigory Voitinsky managed the eastern route. Votinsky supervised the establishment of three new organizations in the region: the Korean Communist Party (set up in Irkutsk and Shanghai) in May 1921, the Communist Party of China (CPC) in July 1921, and the JCP in July 1922.

The manager of the western route was Katayama Sen, who had escaped to the United States after the 1911 High Treason Incident and was further radicalized after meeting Leon Trotsky, Nikolai Bukharin, and other communist leaders in New York in 1917, before they returned to Russia to lead the revolution there. Katayama and his fellow Japanese immigrants in the US translated Comintern-related literature from English to Japanese and reported on Japanese social conditions to Moscow, acting as the primary link between the Comintern and Japanese socialists in the preparatory phase of the JCP’s establishment.

Katayama became a founding member of the Communist Party of America in 1919 and was appointed head of the Comintern’s Pan-American Agency. He later moved to the Soviet Union and became an Executive Committee member of the Comintern in 1922.

The Kanto Massacre

For the first few years after the establishment of the East Asian Communist parties, the Comintern viewed Japan, with its advanced industrial base and large working class, as its key target for promoting revolution in the region. However, with the formation of a united front between the CPC and the nationalist Kuomintang in 1924, China replaced Japan as the primary target for revolutionary intervention. As a result, the early JCP operated with a high degree of autonomy from Soviet authorities.

“The early JCP operated with a high degree of autonomy from Soviet authorities.”

The JCP is said to have been established on July 15, 1922, in a secret meeting of eight men held in a founding member’s room in Shibuya, Tokyo. Riddled with internal divisions and subjected to frequent police crackdowns from the start, the underground party did not survive for long.

In the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake that destroyed much of downtown Tokyo and Yokohama in September 1923, there was a campaign of rumors instigated by Japanese state authorities that incited widespread massacres of Korean, Chinese, and other suspected enemies of the state by military, police, and vigilante forces. While the massacres were taking place, military and police officials opportunistically assassinated key leftist leaders under the cover of martial law, including Ōsugi Sakae.

JCP leaders held a secret meeting in a Tokyo suburb in late October that year, where they decided to dissolve the underground JCP. The party leader Yamakawa Hitoshi argued that in the post-massacre environment, they had no choice but to first work toward building a legal proletarian party with a mass base.

When the JCP was reestablished three years later, however, this was not the direction followed by the new party. In the place of Yamakawa, Fukumoto Kazuo emerged as the new party’s theoretical leader. In sharp contrast to Yamakawa’s bottom-up emphasis, the fiery and theoretically inclined Fukumoto argued that revolution was imminent in Japan, and so it was time to purify the party as a vanguard of true communists.

Fukumoto’s arguments found a receptive audience among elite university student activists but had divisive effects on mass organizations. As the Comintern strengthened its grip on the JCP, both Yamakawa and Fukumoto were subjected to criticisms for their mistaken strategies and Comintern officials appointed a new party leadership in 1927. Reflecting the Comintern’s emphasis on building a mass party, intellectuals like Fukumoto were excluded from the new leadership, with members from a working-class background replacing them.

Meanwhile, Yamakawa’s group was expelled from the party. They would later reorganize around the Japan Socialist Party (JSP) after the end of World War II.

Repression and Reemergence

The imperial Japanese state continued to crack down harshly on communists and suspected sympathizers. As jingoism rose to feverish levels after the Kwantung Army’s invasion of Manchuria in 1931, domestic repression against leftists intensified. Mass arrests peaked during this period, with many of those arrested renouncing their communist convictions under police cajoling and pressure.

Police infiltrated the JCP with spies, gaining inside information and triggering a destructive spiral of paranoid distrust among party members. They also widely used methods of torture against arrested communists. One of the JCP members killed by police torture in this period was the writer Kobayashi Takiji, author of the proletarian novel The Crab Cannery Ship. In a period of rising social inequality during the early 2000s, there was a resurgence of interest in the novel among Japanese people, and it became a runaway best-seller in 2008.

With the end of World War II, incarcerated JCP leaders emerged from prison thanks to a US occupation directive to the Japanese government to free its political prisoners. While these leaders were later widely criticized for holding the naive belief that their revolutionary agenda could be pursued under the US occupation, their initial optimism derived in part from the fact that the US military had been their “liberation army.”

The reliance of the JCP leadership on the US occupation for their postwar release from prison reflected their disadvantageous position compared with other communist parties such as those in Europe. The French and Italian communists emerged in the postwar period with an organizational base established through their wartime resistance movements. Lacking such a base, the postwar JCP relied heavily on Korean activists in Japan to finance and build its organization.

Of the roughly one thousand supporters who gathered in Western Tokyo to greet the JCP heroes emerging from prison on October 10, 1945, half or more were Korean. In the context of postcolonial liberation, there was a widespread perception that the Korean people and the JCP had both been victimized by the imperial regime and were now emerging together to construct a new era.

The Reverse Course

Unlike the occupation of Germany, the US occupation of Japan was an indirect one that governed through the established Japanese authorities. It was known as SCAP (Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers). While SCAP’s basic policy was to use and not necessarily to support the existing government, the reliance of US officials on a stable and functioning native administration had the effect of supporting and strengthening it.

It had initially seemed that the stated goal of the occupation to demilitarize and democratize Japan dovetailed with the JCP’s program for a two-stage revolution that would aim first for a democratic transformation of the country. However, the JCP’s ebullient appraisal of the US “liberation army” was short-lived. A watershed event came with SCAP’s orders to cancel the JCP-led general strike planned for February 1, 1947.

The cancellation of the general strike coincided with the intensification of the Cold War: over the months that followed, the US government announced the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. In what has come to be known as the “reverse course,” the emphasis of US occupation policy shifted away from demilitarization and democratization and toward the reconstruction of Japan as an anti-communist bulwark.

“The emphasis of US occupation policy shifted away from demilitarization and democratization and toward the reconstruction of Japan as an anti-communist bulwark.”

For its part, the JCP adopted a new line of anti-American nationalism, attacking the incumbent government for its “traitorous” collaboration with the United States. This nationalist reorientation seemed to strike a popular chord, with the JCP winning an unprecedented thirty-five seats in the lower house of the Diet and nearly 10 percent of the vote in the January 1949 election. Optimistic party activists anticipated that with further gains in the next general election, they would be able to take power.

However, a series of mysterious terrorist attacks occurred in the summer, for which law enforcement officials and the mass media blamed the JCP. In September 1949, the Japanese authorities disbanded the Korean League, a powerful ally of the party, as a terrorist organization. By this time, hopes for further progress on the electoral front had evaporated. The JCP went on to lose all its parliamentary seats in the election of 1952.

The Cominform Turn

In January 1950, the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform), which had been established three years earlier to succeed the Comintern, publicly criticized the JCP for holding the mistaken belief that peaceful revolution could be achieved under the US occupation. It called on the JCP to lead a vigorous “anti-imperial struggle” against the occupiers.

“The Cominform publicly criticized the JCP for holding the mistaken belief that peaceful revolution could be achieved under the US occupation.”

This shocking Cominform intervention into Japanese affairs produced a bitter factional split in the JCP. While the party leadership initially rejected the Cominform’s criticism, a significant minority of dissenting party activists embraced it.

On May 30, 1950, Japanese and Korean leftist demonstrators clashed violently with US occupation troops in Tokyo’s Imperial Palace Plaza. As US forces held a Memorial Day celebration, the left-wing activists gathered to protest against the accelerating move toward repression and war in Japan and Korea, where full-scale war would break out weeks later.

The Japanese media presented the clash as having resulted from the JCP’s militant turn. In fact, the party leadership had yet to adopt a policy of confrontation with the occupation forces. Impatient JCP activists had acted in open defiance of both the US authorities and their own party leadership, convinced that they had the Cominform’s backing for this change of course.

SCAP responded swiftly to this apparent JCP-led rise in militant anti-Americanism, purging all twenty-four members of the party’s Central Committee from public office in early June. On June 26, the day after the outbreak of all-out war on the Korean peninsula, the occupation banned publication of the JCP newspaper.

Confrontation and Defeat

In the following months, more than 10,000 workers in various industries and government agencies were fired as suspected communists or communist sympathizers. In the summer of 1951, the underground JCP leadership adopted a new militant platform drafted with the assistance of Chinese communist leaders and Joseph Stalin himself. It called for a military struggle to overthrow the US occupation.

During the early 1950s, JCP members tossed Molotov cocktails on city streets and entered rural villages to mobilize for Maoist-style revolution.

During this period in the JCP’s history, its members tossed Molotov cocktails on city streets and entered rural villages with their “mountain village mobilization units” to mobilize for Maoist-style revolution. These reckless tactics further alienated the beleaguered party from the Japanese public. The JCP officially repudiated such methods in the summer of 1955.

Commentators, including the JCP itself, have almost universally denounced and disowned the party’s interlude of military struggle against the US-Japanese war effort during the conflict in Korea as a case of “extreme leftist adventurism” resulting from the Cominform’s imposition of mistaken tactics. Viewed from the perspective of the JCP’s standing in domestic politics, this assessment is certainly accurate.

However, we cannot understand the struggles of this period simply as the product of Cominform orders. JCP activists also had their own motivations for participating in these actions. They included Koreans who wanted to protect their homeland, purged Japanese workers striking back against their domestic oppressors, and radicalized students seeking revolution.

Their actions did not seriously disrupt the war effort or foment a revolutionary crisis. But they did have the effect of disrupting the mirage of a “postwar Japan” set apart from Asia, for which the Korean War was nothing more than a “gift from the gods” — in the words of Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru — that rescued the stagnant Japanese economy with the demand it generated for supplies.

Adaptation and Survival

hen mass protests broke out in 1960 against the revision of the US-Japan Security Treaty, the JCP was still struggling to rebuild from the devastating setbacks of the early 1950s. The leading forces of the protest movement came not from the JCP but rather from the Japan Socialist Party and New Left activists who were claiming the mantle of “sole revolutionary vanguard.” They posed a major challenge to the recently formed LDP, an anti-communist party put together with CIA support. The tumultuous protests ended with the resignation of Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke in 1960 and the ratification of the revised treaty.

In 1961, the JCP adopted a new platform that characterized Japan as an advanced capitalist nation that was simultaneously an American client state.

In 1961, the JCP adopted a new platform that characterized Japan as an advanced capitalist nation that was simultaneously an American client state. It was a realistic assessment that departed from its earlier formulaic insistence, based on inherited revolutionary categories, that Japan was a backward colonized state under the hegemony of US imperialism.

The newly flexible approach based on local realities anticipated the party’s increasing independence from Soviet and Chinese influences in the following years. During the 1970s and ’80s, its vote share in elections for the Diet’s lower house increased to an average of 10 percent, on a par with its previous best-ever vote share in 1949. The independent line the JCP adopted became in turn a key factor enabling its survival into the post–Cold War era.

The JCP’s strongest electoral performance to date came in 1996, when it took 13 percent of the vote.

The Japanese Socialists dissolved their party in 1996, and the social democratic successor group they established now has just one seat in the Diet. The JCP, on the other hand, has carried on under the Communist name. Its strongest electoral performance to date came in 1996, when it took 13 percent of the vote, closely followed by the 11.4 percent score the JCP achieved more recently in 2014. It has an estimated membership in excess of 250,000.

Powerful elements within the ruling LDP, which still enjoys a firm grip on power long after the Cold War ended, have continued to stoke fears about the JCP’s alleged secret plots for violent revolution, but the truth is very different. The JCP may have failed to conduct an honest accounting of its past, and it continues to theorize in revolutionary terms. Yet today’s party of aging activists, which ceased condoning violence after its 1950s experiment and consistently berated New Left groups that inherited its extreme tactics in the following decades, has neither the will nor the capacity to organize for a violent overthrow of the state.

It does, on the other hand, maintain the will and the capacity to speak truth to power. This can be said for very few other organizations in Japan today. In the face of growing inequalities produced by neoliberal policies and shifting debates about Japanese national defense in a changing regional security environment, the party’s future direction, as well as the ability of nonparty members to enter into dialogue and form alliances with the party, will have significant repercussions for both Japan and the wider world.

Kenji Hasegawa is associate professor of modern Japanese history and coordinator of international student exchange at Yokohama National University. He is the author of Student Radicalism and the Formation of Postwar Japan.

US wants to surround China with missiles – but can’t find Asian country to host them / by Benjamin Norton

US Army ballistic missiles

The United States plans to spend billions of dollars to surround China with missiles. But a US military-sponsored study concluded its Pacific allies South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Australia are unlikely to host the offensive weapons.

The United States plans to spend tens of billions of dollars to surround China with missiles. But it’s having trouble finding an Asian country willing to host the offensive weapons.

The US military commissioned a study from the RAND Corporation, a Pentagon-backed research group, to assess the feasibility of deploying intermediate-range missiles to the Pacific.

The study closely analyzed the US government’s relations with its five treaty allies in the region: Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand.

Citing “an inability to find a willing partner,” the RAND report concluded that the chance of these nations hosting US ground-based intermediate-range missiles “is very low as long as current domestic political conditions and regional security trends hold.”

The Donald Trump administration withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019. This means Washington can now deploy ground-based missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, RAND noted.

The study refers to these weapons as ground-based intermediate-range missiles, using the acronym GBIRMs.

“Finding an ally willing to host GBIRMs is more challenging than finding allies willing to host other types of U.S. military forces, such as air bases,” RAND wrote.

RAND conceded that this opposition is logical: “There are several reasons why U.S. allies could deny access to and use of their territories, including fears that hosting such systems could intensify a regional arms race with China; the risk of the deployment being seen as provocative, sparking harsh reactions from Beijing; and fears of entrapment in a conflict between the United States and China that does not directly involve the ally.”

Given this reality, the RAND report suggested other possibilities for the US to militarily encircle and threaten China, including by deploying ground-based intermediate-range missiles instead to Guam, which is a US colony in the Pacific.

RAND concluded that the most realistic approach would be for Washington to strengthen Japan’s military to counter China.

US military to spend $27.4 billion to surround China with missiles

The major Japanese media outlet Nikkei published an article on this RAND study. It noted, “In a six-year investment plan submitted to Congress in February last year, the U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command made it clear that ground-based weapons will be crucial in breaking through China’s defense systems.”

In 2021, Nikkei exclusively obtained a copy of the “Pacific Deterrence Initiative” that US Indo-Pacific Command submitted to Congress.

The strategy revealed that the US military plans on spending $27.4 billion over six years to install precision-strike missiles on the first island chain – the first chain of islands off of the coast of East Asia, which includes Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

The US military proposal lamented that Beijing is challenging Washington’s hegemony in the region, writing, “Without a valid and convincing conventional deterrent, China is emboldened to take action in the region and globally to supplant U.S. interests.”

Donald Trump’s Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, a former vice president of and lobbyist for weapons corporation Raytheon, said in 2019 that the United States sought to deploy intermediate-range missiles to the Pacific region “sooner, rather than later.”

Acknowledging that the Joe Biden administration has continued Trump’s aggressive policies against China, the RAND report emphasized, “The strategic logic that underlies this thinking did not change with the transition of administrations in Washington.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave a historic speech on May 26 making it clear that the US government is waging a policy of containment and siege against China, similar to the one that Washington pursued against the Soviet Union in the first cold war.

Country by country

The RAND report, which is titled “Ground-Based Intermediate-Range Missiles in the Indo-Pacific Assessing the Positions of U.S. Allies,” was commissioned by the US military’s Pacific Air Forces, and was written by political scientist Jeffrey W. Hornung.

It analyzes Washington’s relations with its five treaty allies in the Pacific region, and explained why they are unlikely to host US ground-based intermediate-range missiles.

RAND wrote, “It is highly unlikely that Thailand, the Philippines, or the Republic of Korea (ROK) would agree to host U.S. GBIRMs, and there is a small likelihood that Australia or Japan would do so, although the possibility that an agreement might be struck with Tokyo is only slightly greater.”


“Thailand would be highly unlikely to accept,” the RAND study conceded. It noted that the Thai “government shows a propensity to pursue closer ties with China.”


“The Philippines is extremely unlikely to accept the deployment of U.S. GBIRMs,” RAND wrote, adding that the “U.S. alliance with the Philippines is in a state of flux, although it is improving.”

RAND continued: “While the Philippine public and elites generally support the United States and the alliance, President Rodrigo Duterte has pursued policies that negatively affect ties. Specifically, Duterte has advocated closer ties with Beijing while pursuing policies that weaken core pillars of the U.S.-Philippine alliance.”

South Korea

South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea (ROK), “retains a close relationship with China,” RAND cautioned.

The study concluded that “a general deterioration of U.S.-ROK relations suggest that it is highly unlikely that the ROK would consent to host U.S. GBIRMs.”


“The U.S. alliance with Australia is strong. Australia also remains economically close to China, but their bilateral ties have been fraying,” RAND wrote.

Yet “Australia’s historical reluctance to host permanent foreign bases, combined with the geographical distance of Australia from continental Asia, makes this possibility unlikely.”


The RAND report assessed that “Japan is the regional ally that appears most likely to host U.S. GBIRMs.”

It acknowledged, however, that this possibility “remains low, heavily caveated by the challenge of accepting any increase in U.S. presence and deploying weapons that are explicitly offensive in nature.”

Multipolarista, June 3, 2022,

At Tokyo Pride, Japanese Communist Party pledges fight for LGBTQ equality law / by Shimbun Akahata

Shii Kazuo, chair of the Japanese Communist Party, addresses a rally at the Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2022 Festival. | via JCP

TOKYO—Calling for creating a society where sexual minorities, including LGBTQ people, can positively live as themselves, the Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2022 festival took place April 22-24 in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park under COVID-19 restrictions which limited the number of in-person participants.

Solidarity speeches were delivered by officials from foreign embassies in Tokyo and political party representatives, including Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo.

Celebrants at Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2022 march through a downtown area. | via TRP

Wearing a rainbow scarf, Shii appeared on the open-air stage. Shii said that social change has transpired in regard to the issue of same-sex marriage. As an example, Shii referred to the Sapporo District Court ruling a year ago which recognized that the ban on same-sex marriage violates the Japanese Constitution clause which stipulates equality before the law. He also pointed to the fact that over half of Japan’s population now live in municipalities with a same-sex partnership recognition system.

“I believe a society with respect for LGBTQ people is a society in which everyone can live their lives with dignity,” Shii said. He expressed the determination of the Communist Party to work hard to enact an LGBTQ equality law in parliament and realize a revision of the Civil Code so that same-sex couples can get married.

After the three-day Rainbow Pride festival, about 2,000 people paraded through Tokyo’s major shopping areas of Shibuya and Harajuku, appealing to passersby to support their call for legalization of same-sex marriage.

Kawai Jun, who is in his 30s and works as a childcare worker in Tokyo, said, “Since I came out as transgender two years ago, my co-workers and children’s guardians have shown their understanding and acceptance of sexual diversity. I really appreciate this.”

Shimbun Akahata (しんぶん赤旗) is the daily newspaper of the Japanese Communist Party.