Youth radicalisation in Japan

Original article, by Fred McDowell, via Socialist Appeal (UK):

Communism is suddenly back in fashion in Japan. The reason is not hard to seek. ‘Lifetime employment’ is a thing of the past for young workers, who face a casualised and insecure future. One in three is temping. Some 44% of country’s workforce are part-time only, while a profusion of short-term contracts has created a generation of freelancers who are often ‘between jobs’. They have already worked out that, as recession bites, they will be first in the firing line. They are drawing political conclusions in increasing numbers.

The Yen, over the past year, has gone from 114 Yen/Dollar to 92.64 Yen/Dollar today. A strong Yen hurts Japanese exports, putting pressure on the manufacturers to lower wages or cut jobs completely. This is not being viewed well by the Nikkei 225, which has lost over half it’s value in the past year. Based on this alone, one could understand a growing discontent with the Japanese youth and their working class.

New recruits are signing up to the JCP at the rate of 1,000 a month, swelling its ranks to more than 415,000. A further sign of disaffection among young Japanese – who in recent years have been more renowned for their political apathy than their revolutionary zeal – is the increasing frequency of rallies by workers on the streets of the capital. Earlier this month, crowds of up to 5,000 young Japanese workers marched through the streets of central Tokyo to express their growing discontent with the government over working conditions.

Worker discontent. Not just a reaction to the plundering of the financial system, but worries about if one will even have a job or not. And the Japanese are beginning to take to the streets over this. How long until we see such a reaction in the US?

Resurgent Japanese communism is deploying all the tools of the 21st century, with the internet and on-line video sites playing a vital role. The party’s chairman, Kazuo Shii, triggered a rush of new recruits with a rousing parliamentary speech attacking the exploitation of young workers, which has become cult viewing among young Japanese on video websites.

The Japanese legislature, the Diet, is a parliamentary based system. This is why you have a communist member being able to give a speech there. Our system, save for Bernie Saunders, keeps the smaller parties from having members of the Congress. It’s one of the reasons the two major parties have morphed into the duoparty monster they have become.

Among those who have recently come under his sway is Miki Tomohiro, a 34-year-old freelance writer from Fukutsu City, Fukuoka Prefecture. “When I saw Mr Shii speaking, I felt as if he was exposing capitalism in its crudest form,” he said. “I surfed the internet to find out more about the party before joining.” Oomori Shuji, 30, a temporary worker for Toyota, from Aichi Prefecture, who joined the party in June, added: “Since my graduation, I have never been fully employed. At a JCP workshop, I learned about the realities of temps hired by the day and the working poor, who are without social security or bonuses, and are often easily fired.

We have strong unemployment and under-employment here in the US. Where are the advocates of the working class here on the national stage? We can find $1 trillion + to bail out the banksters and the bosses, and yet we are going to be hard pressed to push for full employment. Where is our voice for the working class and the poor?

“The party is considerate of the plight of young people, including their jobs and living conditions. It has a concrete policy on these questions.” Another sign of the growing allure of the Left is the sudden surge in popularity of a classic Japanese novel, Kanikosen – the Crab-Canning Ship ­- about embattled factory workers who rise up against their capitalist oppressors.

Nearly eight decades after it was written by Takiji Kobayashi, a communist who was tortured to death for his political beliefs aged 29, its sales have leapt from a slow annual trickle of 5,000 to 507,000 so far this year, unexpectedly catapulting it to the top of the nation’s bestseller lists.

The strength of the written word cannot be underestimated in the struggle against our capitalist overlords. We may have the same reaction with the renewed interest in Upton Sinclair’s Oil. Perhaps some day we’ll see Das Kapital on the best seller list again!

As the economic situation worsens here in the US, it will be a chance to have a mass movement to improve the lot of the average American. We’ve already seen that the politicos are willing to spend huge sums of money in trying to save the bacon of the banksters and the bosses. Should the same not be done for the workers and distressed homeowners there will be opportunity to defeat the duoparty and it’s adherents. We see such movements begin to bloom around the world in reaction to the failure of capitalism. Will the workers and middles class of the US follow in pursuit of such change? Only time will tell.

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4 comments

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  1. Just think, Miyavi could be the siren voice of revolution!

    • Mu on October 25, 2008 at 8:13 am

    O.K., technically it wasn’t a “communist wedding”, it was the wedding of the daughter of a Town Council member in the town I lived in and he was a member of the JCP.  And, in typical fashion, I didn’t actually attend the wedding (that’s just for immediate family/ies), but sat in a room with a few others and had ocha and snacks while the wedding took place in another room in the “wedding factory”.  Afterwards, all the people in the various small rooms gathered in the Large Hall for the reception.  About 6 or 7 costume changes for the bride and groom, a laser light show and a disco version of “The Loco-Motion” (complimented with a bubble machine) were featured.  Many speeches.  Great food.  Lots, and lots, to drink.  We figured the whole thing ran around US30,000+.

    Communist.  Heh.

    Mu . . .

    • banger on October 25, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Youth need to get it on–instead of sitting in front of screens. If someone or something can get young people out on the street interacting forming gangs etc., then we can get somewhere. It might happen since it’s going to be the young folks that are going to get screwed when things get really bad.

    I hesitate because I don’t think this generation has much interest in courage. I’m not sure why that is but it could change.

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