TOKYO -- Emboldened by voter anger over the expansion of national defense powers, the Japanese Communist Party is calling on opposition lawmakers to come together to scuttle the controversial security legislation.
JCP Chair Kazuo Shii hopes to mobilize a national coalition government to defeat the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the upcoming upper house election. He spoke with The Nikkei about his goals for the alliance.
Excerpts from the interview follow.
Q: Given the swell of resistance against Japan's recent national security legislation, why not simply field Communist Party candidates?
A: I was there protesting in front of the Diet when the bills were under debate. There was an immense desire to see that war legislation stopped and the current government knocked out of power. Citizens want to see the opposition band together into a single force to achieve those goals, and we must answer their call. We need to change how we do things, too.
During next summer's upper house election, the opposition needs to unite, sweep out the LDP-Komeito coalition, and ride that momentum in a lower house race. We opposition parties will be able to triple, quadruple our numbers if we join forces. There are a number of ways that the alliance could run in the election. I plan to work toward a group capable of sweeping all 32 of the single-seat upper house districts.
Q: What sort of government do you hope to bring into power?
A: One that will repeal the national security laws and reverse the cabinet decision that approved the use of so-called collective self-defense in the first place. Once that's been accomplished, we would dissolve the lower house, hold a general election, and let the people decide how Japan will go forward.
Q: Do you aim to dissolve the Japan-U.S. security treaty?
A: No, that issue would be tabled. We would not move to dissolve the treaty, and we would allow [military] cooperation under the system laid out in the law governing the Self-Defense Forces. The government wouldn't make any major changes to the direction of Japan's economic policy, either.
Q: Isn't it a better strategy for the JCP to cooperate by simply not fielding candidates?
A: I don't plan to go into cooperation demanding a cabinet position or anything of that sort. But if we are serious about repealing the security laws, there needs to be a change of government. If we say from the outset that that is what we're trying to do and hoist that banner high, people will take notice, and we'll get the votes.