Collected Writings of J.A.A. Stockwin: The Politics and Political Environment of Japan

By J. A. A. Stockwin | Go to book overview

First published in J.D.B. Miller and T.H. Rigby (eds), The Disintegrating Monolith, Canberra: Australia National University Press, 1965


7

The Japan Communist Party in the Sino-Soviet Dispute-From Neutrality to Alignment?

THE ALIGNMENT of the Japan Communist Party (JCP) between Moscow and Peking is a subject that exercised the minds of scholars even during the period when the two Communist centres worked together in apparent harmony. 1 There have always been good a priori reasons for supposing that the JCP might find it difficult to decide its allegiance if ever there were a showdown between the two. With a number of Communist regimes and parties it would have been easy to predict which side they would take in the dispute. North Vietnam, for instance, by geographical propinquity, traditional cultural and political dependence, her weakness in comparison with her Chinese neighbour, and her low level of industrialization, was an obvious candidate for the position of Chinese satellite. Japan, however, was not so simply placed. An Asian country with a European level of economic development, within short flying range of Vladivostock as well as of Peking, her world status that of a power potentially able to influence others as much as to receive influence-she hardly provided her Communists with the theoretical or practical basis on which to make an easy choice of loyalty. Once the Sino-Soviet dispute began they were faced with three possibilities-alignment with one or other of the two disputants, and 'independence' or 'neutrality'.

The current split in the JCP (that of May 1964) once more brings the problem into sharp focus. An acute analyst of the party's chequered fortunes, writing in 1962, argued that at that time the party was trying to be neutral in the dispute, with the aim of maintaining independence from either centre. 2 He further posed the question of whether this did not indicate that the leaders of the JCP were taking advantage of increased pluralism in the Communist world to create a Japanese type of communism. Recent trends, however, appear to show a retreat from independence and increasing alignment with Communist China. This seems to the present writer to throw some doubt on the above-mentioned view, even as an analysis of events up to 1962.

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