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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 June 29 - July 5  > JCP’s antiwar movement in the 1930s still alive in ex-military port city
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2016 June 29 - July 5 [PEACE]
column 

JCP’s antiwar movement in the 1930s still alive in ex-military port city

July 1, 2016
Akahata ‘current’ column

Hiroshima’s Kure City has a good natural harbor facing the Seto Inland Sea. The harbor used to be a military port and continues to be used as a base for the Maritime Self-Defense Force. When visiting Kure Station, people will find a Japanese Communist Party sign that reads, “The JCP will do its utmost to protect the lives of SDF members”.

This sign, put up by a local JCP branch, is a reminder of the party’s century-long struggle for peace in the military city. In the prewar period, Kure boasted the largest naval presence in East Asia. Kure Harbor was one of the three most important strongpoints of the Imperial Navy. In a way, the city was the heart of militarist Japan.

When the Imperial Japan was intensifying its invasion of China, the navy in Kure experienced a shock wave. Young sailors launched a campaign to protest against the war of aggression and started to issue a paper titled “the Towering Mast”. The protesters championed the protection of human rights and dignity of military personnel.

At that time, people had to risk their lives just to speak in favor of popular sovereignty and peace. Given that human rights were suppressed severely in the Imperial Japanese military, it is easy to imagine how much courage the sailors in Kure needed to stand up against the war and what kinds of difficulties they faced. They led this peace movement because they were JCP members.

Two years ago today, the Abe Cabinet decided to lift the ban on Japan’s use of the collective self-defense right. In the following year, the Abe government forcibly enacted the war legislation in violation of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution. Through these moves, the Abe government paved the way for involving SDF troops in wars abroad and turning Japan into a war-fighting country as it was in the prewar era.

In the ongoing Upper House election campaign, the JCP and joint opposition candidates are making joint efforts opposing the war legislation and promising to ensure that no Japanese troops will be victimized in battlefields abroad. They received favorable responses from many SDF members and families. The Abe government seeks to send young people to battlefields abroad, which will endanger their lives. The current ongoing movement against Abe follows as an extension of the efforts made by JCP members in the Imperial Navy.
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