The Japan Communist Party was first organized in 1922, in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution, and remained part of the international, Moscow-controlled communist movement until the early 1960s. Although the party won a large percentage of the popular vote in Diet elections in 1949, it became extremely unpopular after 1950, when Moscow ordered it to cease being a "lovable party" and to engage in armed struggle. It was forced to go underground, and in the election it lost all its seats in the Diet. A self-reliant party line, stressing independence from both Moscow and Beijing, evolved during the 1960s. The party's chairman, Miyamoto Kenji, a tough veteran of prewar struggles and wartime prisons, promoted the "parliamentary road" of nonviolent, electoral politics. Thereafter, the fortunes of the Japan Communist Party gradually revived. Representation in the lower house reached a high point of thirtynine in the 1979 election but declined to between twenty-six and twenty-nine seats in the 1980s and to fifteen in the July 1993 election. The party's program promoted unarmed neutrality, the severing of security ties with the United States, defense of the postwar constitution, and socialism. It also voiced concern for welfare and quality of life issues.
Both organizationally and financially, the party was stronger than its opposition rivals and even the LDP. Revenues from its publishing enterprises, especially the popular newspaper Akahata (Red Flag), which had the eighth largest circulation in the country, provided adequate support for its activities. As a result, the Japan Communist Party was the party least mired in money politics. This fact earned it the reluctant respect of voters. But suspicions about its ultimate intentions remains strong. It is excluded from opposition party negotiations on coalitions.
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