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.
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.
Morihara, deputy director of the Japanese Communist Party’s international
bureau, said: "Working conditions dramatically changed for younger
generations in 2002 when new temporary working laws were introduced.
political climate in Japan is changing and more young Japanese are becoming
politically aware because these issues have long been ignored by other
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.
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.
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.
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.
"manga" comic book depicting the same Marxist tale is also winning
over young Japanese, with 200,000 copies sold in a year. Kosuke Maruo, editor
at East Press, which publishes the manga version, said: "The story
succeeds in representing very vividly the situation of the so-called working
cannot become happy and they cannot find the solution to their poverty, however
hard they work. Young people who are forced to work for very low wages today
may have a feeling that they are in a similar position to the crew of
Kanikosen." Kyudo Takahashi, 31, a freelance writer from Tokyo, attributed
the popularity of the story to a growing sense of displacement among his
was a textbook in school but we didn’t read it seriously then," he said.
"Now, we’re reading it again because we’re frustrated with the government.
book, people are exploited again and again. They are not treated like humans,
more like cows at a hamburger factory. That is how many people feel today. When
we find work, someone is always exploiting us. We cannot feel secure about the
from the ‘Daily Telegraph’ (18.10.08)