Pastor of Muppets (syndicalist) wrote in ontd_political,
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Japan's Communist Party grows as economy tanks

A link to info about the Karl Marx manga is HERE.



Communist party gains as Japan economy sinks
4 hours ago

TOKYO (AFP) — Once banned and long seen as a fringe group, Japan's Communist Party has enjoyed a surge in membership during the country's economic meltdown.

In the country at large, Karl Marx's "Das Kapital" has become a manga comic best-seller and an inter-war tale of worker exploitation has found a new readership as a graphic novel.

[...]

Today it has only 16 of 722 seats in parliament, making it the fourth- biggest party, but membership is growing while mainstream parties are losing support. [..] Its membership [is growing] by 1,000 people a month, while its Red Flag daily newspaper now has a readership of over 1.6 million, the party says.

[...]

A manga version of "Das Kapital" has become a best-seller, as has a graphic novel of the 1929 classic "Kanikosen" or The Crab-Canning Ship, by communist author Takiji Kobayashi, which describes grim worker exploitation. The movie version opens this summer, starring up-and-coming actor Ryuhei Matsuda.





Communist party gains as Japan economy sinks
4 hours ago

TOKYO (AFP) — Once banned and long seen as a fringe group, Japan's Communist Party has enjoyed a surge in membership during the country's economic meltdown.

In the country at large, Karl Marx's "Das Kapital" has become a manga comic best-seller and an inter-war tale of worker exploitation has found a new readership as a graphic novel.

Japan may be the world's second-biggest economy, but as it hits its worst slump since 1945, with corporate titans going into the red and shedding jobs, a youthful grassroots movement has started to question the capitalist system.

Japan's Communist Party does not advocate violent revolution, and its members say they are not bound by the doctrines of Russia's Lenin or China's Mao, or even the party's own radical student movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

But disaffection with mainstream political parties and labour unions has seen its membership surge by 1,000 people a month, while its Red Flag daily newspaper now has a readership of over 1.6 million, the party says.

"This country is the world's second-biggest capitalist country," said Kimitoshi Morihara, deputy head of the party's international bureau. "But now the situation is quite difficult, particularly for the young."

Labour market deregulation has made it easier for companies to hire and fire workers, and Japan's traditional jobs-for-life have given way to uncertainty and lower wages for the latest generation to enter the job market.

"I hear many stories about people, especially temp workers, of my age who make less and less money for longer working hours and can't even pay their rent," said a new party member, a part-time worker at a Tokyo photo studio.

"Casting a vote is not the only thing you can do if you want change in politics," said the 32-year-old woman, who like many party members asked not to be named because of communism's lingering social stigma in Japan.

"Workers should be able to demand their rights," she said.

Mari Miura, associate professor of political science at Tokyo's Sophia University, said Japan's labour unions "are organised by regular, full-time employees of each company, and temporary contract workers are not allowed to join.

"Temporary workers can become members only of small independent unions, which are often linked to the Communist Party network," she said.

Japan's Communist Party, founded in 1922, was legalised only after World War II. Since the turbulent days of the 1960s and 1970s student protest movement, it has served as one of Japan's perennial opposition parties.

Today it has only 16 of 722 seats in parliament, making it the fourth- biggest party, but membership is growing while mainstream parties are losing support. And it is making its presence felt on the streets.

A May Day rally in Tokyo, co-organised by the party, drew an unusually large crowd of 36,000, many of them young people.

"I feel the most sympathetic toward the Communist Party of all the political parties," said one demonstrator, a 19-year-old university student. "Many of my generation feel dubious about leading one's life just to make money."

Pop culture has reflected the shift to the left over the past year.

A manga version of "Das Kapital" has become a best-seller, as has a graphic novel of the 1929 classic "Kanikosen" or The Crab-Canning Ship, by communist author Takiji Kobayashi, which describes grim worker exploitation.

The movie version opens this summer, starring up-and-coming actor Ryuhei Matsuda.

But some commentators say the communist gains are just Japan's latest fad.

"Young people don't know about communism or Marxism so it is quite new to them, it's a kind of fashion," said Daisaburo Hashizume, deputy head of the Center for the Study of World Civilizations at Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Miura of Sophia University said young people all over the world tend to be drawn to polarised political ideologies when an economy starts to tumble.

But unlike Japan's right-wing nationalist groups, which she said "tend to become more xenophobic, as in an anti-immigrant movement," the Communist Party avoids extremism and plays by the rules of Japan's liberal democracy.

"The Japanese Communist Party is now part of the parliamentary system, it's not going for armed revolution," she said



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