Japanese Communist Party seeing sharp increase in new, young members
The number of people joining the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) surged in the last three months of 2013, it has been learned.
About 1,000 people joined the political party in each of October and November last year, with about 2,000 more new members in December. The JCP has apparently maintained the momentum it built up during its good showing in last year's elections for the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly and the House of Councillors. At a party convention due to start on Jan. 15, the JCP plans to set a total membership target of 500,000 by the end of the decade, up from about 320,000 today.
According to the JCP, newcomers have to pay party membership dues worth 1 percent of their annual salaries. The party has been losing a little under 500 members each month due to advanced age or death. Therefore, unless the party gets at least 500 new members each month, there will be no increase in its membership. About 600 people joined the party in September last year, on top of the 1,000-plus enrollment in the following three months. About 20 percent of the newcomers are in their 20s to 40s, and a party official noted that "the ratio of young people is getting higher."
The JCP has been putting a great deal of effort into resolving the problems of youth poverty, including the issues of so-called "black companies," or firms with sweatshop-like environments that force young employees to work illegally long hours until they're worn out. This focus apparently helped the party to attract young people who had otherwise no relationship whatsoever with the JCP. Party leader Kazuo Shii said at a New Year's gathering on Jan. 4, "An unprecedentedly wide range of people are joining our party."
JCP membership apparently reached a peak of "close to 500,000" announced at a party convention in 1990. After dropping paper members at a party convention in 1994, however, the membership dropped to about 360,000. There have been times when the membership recovered to the 400,000 level, but it has since drifted down to about 320,000.
After a strong showing in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election and the upper house election in 2013, the JCP decided to set a target at the general meeting of its Central Committee in September last year to "welcome at least one new party member at each of its 20,000 local chapters in municipalities across the country."
January 07, 2014(Mainichi Japan)