Socialist Party of Japan

Socialist Party of Japan

 

(SPJ; Nihon Shakaito), a party founded Nov. 2, 1945, by members of various Japanese Social Democratic parties and groups that had existed before World War II. In the early years after the war, the SPJ became the country’s leading opposition party. Together with several bourgeois parties, it formed a government under General Secretary Katayama Tetsu, which was in power from May 1947 to February 1948; from March to October 1948, the SPJ was part of Ashida Hitoshi’s coalition government. After failing to fulfill its campaign promises, the party was severely defeated in the 1949 parliamentary elections. In October 1951 it split into the Left-wing Socialist Party and the Right-wing Socialist Party as a result of disagreements over the party’s basic policies and its attitude toward the Treaty of San Francisco (1951) and the security treaty concluded with the USA (seeUNITED STATES-JAPANESE TREATIES AND AGREEMENTS).

The growing influence of the Left-wing Socialist Party and the workers’ dislike of the Right-wing Socialist Party’s slogans prompted the right-wing leaders to agree to reunification. In October 1955 the two parties reunited and adopted a platform and party rules. The SPJ began speaking out more forcefully in support of the working people, democracy, and the peaceful development of the country and against militarism. In 1959 and 1960 the party played a significant role in the struggle against the security treaty, often collaborating with the Communist Party of Japan (CPJ). These policies aroused dissatisfaction among the right-wing members, who, under the leadership of Nishio Suehiro, left the SPJ and in January 1960 founded the Socialist Democratic Party, which pursued a right-wing policy of legal reform.

In 1962 the Committee on Socialist Theory was established and was headed first by Suzuki Mosabura and then by Katsumata Seiichi. Working under the SPJ’s Central Executive Committee, it prepared documents for the party’s platform. At the Thirty-second Congress of the SPJ, held in 1969, the document “The Road to Socialism in Japan” was adopted as the ideological and theoretical foundation of the party. Proposing that the party build socialism by gaining power in parliament by peaceful and democratic means, the document stated that the first step toward this goal would be the formation of a coalition government led by the SPJ. The Thirty-seventh Congress of the SPJ, held in 1974, adopted “The Program of the People’s Coalition Government,” which proposed the creation of a coalition government based on a popular front of forces opposed to monopolies and the power of the Liberal Democrats and united by common goals in the struggle for democracy, defense of the constitution, neutrality, and improved living conditions for the people. The SPJ promotes cooperation between all opposition parties, including the CPJ, with which it works periodically on specific problems.

Adhering to the theory of unarmed neutrality, the SPJ advocates peaceful coexistence between states with differing social systems, Japanese neutrality, the banning of nuclear weapons, total disarmament, and the dismantling of Japan’s “self-defense forces.”

In 1964, 1970, and 1974, talks were held in Moscow between the CPSU and delegations of the Central Executive Committee of the SPJ, headed by Narita Tomoni and Ishibashi Masashi. These talks led to joint declarations on the necessity of increased cooperation between the two parties in the struggle for peace, democracy, and social progress.

The SPJ enjoys the support of the General Council of Trade Unions (Sohyo). It directs the Socialist Youth League, the Congress of Japanese Women, the National Association for the Defense of the Constitution, and a number of other democratic organizations. As of January 1976, it had the largest parliamentary representation of any opposition party—114 seats out of 491 in the House of Representatives and 62 seats out of 252 in the House of Councillors.

In January 1976, the SPJ had about 50,000 members. The party is built on the territorial principle. The highest body is the congress, which convenes annually to confirm the party’s policy for the year. Plenary sessions of the Central Committee are held between congresses. Continuing leadership is provided by the Central Executive Committee, whose members are elected at each congress. Asukata Ichio became chairman of the Central Executive Committee in 1977, and Tagaya Shinnen became general secretary in the same year. The major party publications are the newspaper Shakai shimpo and the theoretical journal Gekkan shakaito.

A. IVANOV [24-674-1; updated]

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