People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 37

September 12, 2010


A Fruitful Visit

Prakash Karat


I visited Japan at the invitation of the Japanese Communist Party from August 26 to 31 as the head of the CPI(M) delegation. Accompanying me in the delegation was PMS Grewal, member of the Central Committee. I had last visited Japan 23 years ago in 1987 when I attended the 18th Congress of the JCP. So I was looking forward, after such a long gap, to renewing my acquaintance with the country and holding bilateral discussions with the leadership of the JCP.


The JCP is an important Communist Party. It is a party which adheres to Marxism and scientific socialism in the most advanced capitalist country in Asia. The JCP has around 400,000 members; 22,000 branches and 3000 local assembly members. Its newspaper Akahata, the daily and Sunday editions have a combined circulation of 1.4 million.  In the Japanese parliament, the Diet, the JCP has nine members in the lower house and six members in the upper house where it maintains an active presence despite its strength having been reduced. The experience of the JCP is significant for the CPI(M) as it is working in the most advanced capitalist country and has maintained a fierce independence in its political and ideological outlook.




The six-day visit began with bilateral discussions with the JCP leadership. Stretching over three days there were more than ten hours of talks with the JCP side headed by Kazuo Shii, the chairperson of the Executive Committee of the JCP. The others who participated in the discussion from the Japanese side were  Yasuo Ogata, vice chairperson and head of the international department and Kimitoshi Morihara, member of the Executive Committee. These were the first bilateral discussions in eight years since the visit of Shii in 2002 to India.


The talks were wide ranging and intensive. They covered the CPI(M)’s exposition of the situation in India, the role our Party is playing, the current developments including the attack on the Party and the Left Front in West Bengal and the social and economic situation in the country. The Japanese side explained the situation in Japan and the role the JCP is playing against the “two aberrations” -- the subservience of Japan to the United States exemplified through the US-Japan Security Treaty and the stranglehold of big business on Japanese society.


The impact of neo-liberal policies in both countries was discussed. In Japan, a serious problem is the casualisation of the work force and the growing number of part time and contract workers who have no job security.


The JCP side explained the revision undertaken in their Party programme in 2004. The JCP is the consistent force which demands the abrogation of the Japan-US Security Treaty and the removal of all military bases. It also advocates regulating big business and bringing in an “economy with rules” that protects the rights of the working people.




The JCP is demanding the removal of the Marine Corps Air station at Futenma in Okinawa. This base is situated in the midst of civilian habitation, schools and hospitals. The newly elected DPJ government in 2009 had pledged to get the base relocated to another part of the island. Its failure to do so is one of the main reasons for the resignation of prime minister Hatoyama after hardly a year in office. The JCP had also played the key role in exposing the secret agreement with the US on the stationing of nuclear weapons in US bases and ships deployed in Japan.


From the CPI(M) side we explained the changes brought about in the updating of the Party Programme in 2000. Some of the theoretical issues concerning imperialism and the future society envisaged by the JCP were also discussed.


The JCP side explained its stand on nuclear disarmament and the abolition of all nuclear weapons. On the part of the CPI(M) it had taken a clear cut stand on nuclear weaponisation in India. Both the JCP and the CPI(M) agreed that we should work together to strengthen the efforts for nuclear disarmament and the eventual abolition of all nuclear weapons.




After the discussions, we visited the impressive office of the Akahata daily which is just a few yards away from the Central Committee office. The Akahata is the main vehicle of the Party’s political work and publicity. Its editorial system and printing equipment are technologically advanced. The printing presses are housed in three floors at the basement level. Akahata must be the only newspaper of a non-ruling  Communist Party to have foreign correspondents in various parts of the world like Hanoi, Beijing, London, Paris and Washington. We met with the editorial staff and briefly interacted with them.




After the bilateral discussions in Tokyo, our delegation visited Kyoto. Kyoto was the ancient capital of Japan and is also a major cultural centre. The JCP has a strong base in the Kyoto prefecture. It has 126 local assembly members out of a total of 600 in the prefecture. In Kyoti city, it has 19 out of the 62 councilors. Eight out of the 19 are women.  An interesting feature of the membership of the JCP in Kyoto is that more than 50 per cent are women. In the two days that we stayed in Kyoto, we had a meeting with the leaders of the assembly group at the prefectural level and the town assembly level. This gave us an idea of how the party’s elected representatives are working among the people at the grassroots level.


We also had an opportunity to see how the JCP is representing the interests of the small enterprises and self-employed persons. On the second day we had the opportunity to visit the home and workshop of Kitamura Gazen, who is a well known ceramic pottery artist. He has been a member of the JCP for fifty years. Similarly, we visited small enterprises engaged in the dyeing of silk kimonos and a coffee shop owned by a JCP member who is the president of the shops association in a well known market.


Being in Kyoto also gave us the chance to see some of its cultural landmarks like the Kinkakuji Temple, the Nijo Castle and the Ryoanji Zen temple.


On our return to Tokyo we had a meeting with Tadayoshi Ichida, head of the secretariat of the JCP and a member of the upper house, the house of councilors at his office in the Diet. We also met three members of the parliamentary group. This meeting gave us an idea of the work being done by the JCP members of the Diet in various spheres.




The last meeting was a special one. We met Tetsuzo Fuwa, the former chairperson of the JCP. It was Fuwa who had first visited India in 1988 and held substantive bilateral discussions with the CPI(M) leadership. At that time, I had the privilege of accompanying Fuwa during the discussions and also taking him and his colleagues to visit the Tajmahal in Agra. Fuwa is also the main ideologue of the Party having written a number of books on Marxism and the JCP’s ideological approach. Meeting with Fuwa after 22 years was a happy experience. He provided me with photographs taken during his visit to India which included pictures of him with EMS Namboodiripad, Harkishan Singh Surjeet, B T Ranadive and others. We exchanged books and discussed our parties’ mutual ties.


We utilised the visit to also renew our friendship with the JCP members and other scholars who had links with India. One of them is Kazuo Miura who was the first Akahata correspondent to be posted in India. Another friend we met was Professor Heiji Nakamura who is the Emeritus Professor of Contemporary History of South Asia in the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Accompanying us throughout the trip was Hisanobu Ito who was the correspondent of Akahata in India and who now works in the international department. He was invaluable as our interpreter.


The visit concluded with a farewell dinner hosted by Shii for the delegation. Both Shii and I shared the view that our discussions had helped our two parties to come closer and understand each other better. Both parties affirmed that they have much in common and should work to strengthen mutual ties and relations.