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Journalist member of Japanese Communist Party removed for 'creating division'

Nobuyuki Matsutake is seen in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Oct. 13, 2022. (Mainichi/Akinori Miyamoto)

TOKYO -- The Japanese Communist Party (JCP) announced on Feb. 6 that a journalist who wrote about introducing a new way to select the group's leadership has had his membership revoked, for reasons that include violating the party's "don't create divisions" principle.

    Nobuyuki Matsutake, 68, is asking to be reinstated and for his removal to be reviewed under the party's rules.

    As the JCP has now been led by Chairman Kazuo Shii for over 22 years, Matsutake wrote in the "Shin Nihon Kyosanto Sengen" (New Japanese Communist Party manifesto), published by Bungeishunju Ltd. in January, that the party should adopt a direct voting system in which leadership is selected by its members. Matsutake claimed this would help bring intra-party disputes to light, and vowed to run for the top spot if such a system was introduced.

    The decision to disqualify Matsutake was made on Feb 5 by the Kyoto Minami District branch of the party, where the journalist has membership. The Kyoto Prefecture JCP formally approved the decision at a committee meeting a day later.

    In response, the party judged that Matsutake "trampled upon" several of its principles, including parts of Chapter 1's Article 3 (4), "factions and splinter groups shall not be allowed to be formed within the party," Chapter 2's Article 5 (2), "there is a duty to work for the party's unity and cohesion, and refrain from engaging in hostile action against the party," and Chapter 2's Article 5 (5), "members must refrain from publishing without permission opinions in opposition to the party's decisions."

    At a press conference in Tokyo on Feb. 6, Matsutake criticized the party's decision, saying, "If a member is punished because of a publication taken as divisive activity, that's the death of freedom of speech and expression of Japan's constitution. If the party is going to be that way, it may be doomed."

    Akira Koike, the JCP's secretariat head, said in response at another press conference, "Voicing a different opinion is forgivable under the party's rules, but Matsutake did not follow procedures, and his book came as a sudden attack."

    (Japanese original by Shu Furukawa, Political News Department)

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