(1) While Asahara still maintains his absolute influence, the rift intensifies between Fumihiro Joyu, who advocates a reform drive, and his opponents
- The cult has strengthened its absolute faith in Asahara and advocated "succession of royal authority" to his child.
- Joyu again advocated "hiding the influence of Asahara," and the rift with his opponents has intensified.
Aum Shinrikyo has about 1,650 members in Japan (about 650 "ordained" members and about 1,000 "lay" members) at present. About 94% of the "ordained" members and 73% of the "lay" members had joined the cult before the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack in the Tokyo Subway, so the group is still considered to have many members who are strongly influenced by Asahara.
The cult has further clarified its training policy to place Asahara at the forefront and tried to induce faith in Asahara through training using mind control of members in each intensive seminar held at the beginning and the end of each year and during the Golden Week holiday season in May. After April, the cult held an intensive training period that they called "Faithful Spirit Month" when they had the members continuously repeat an incantation (mantra) promising their absolute faith in Asahara or watching videotapes of Asahara's teaching. In addition, the cult has continued to publish training materials with Asahara's teaching and, in every one of its bulletins, written columns praising Asahara's greatness and described the importance of absolute faith in Asahara. In these ways, the cult has further clarified its policy to strengthen absolute faith in Asahara.
In January, one of the leaders died from a skin burn during a ritual in which he needed to lie in hot water, and it was revealed that the cult group still used unsafe training methods in its rituals inherited from Asahara's teaching. One of its executive members expressed an antisocial attitude saying that "Being unacceptable to the general public is the best environment for training.", thus showing an anti-authority attitude with the message "Let them know our amount of devotion to the extent it horrifies them."
During the appeal trial on Asahara, the Tokyo District High Court decided at its discretion on a psychiatric examination of Asahara to check his competency to stand trial. Concerning the appeal trial, executive members of the cult gave seminars to appeal to the members that Asahara's absolute authority was eternal even if the death penalty on Asahara became final in the future, by stating "The heart and mind of the guru Asahara will not change even if he is sentenced to death." and "The guru Asahara will lose his temporary body some day in the future but will not lose his eternal energy."
Since October 2003, the cult has been administered by a group of five leaders called "Seigoshi" who consult the opinions of Fumihiro Joyu, a "Seitaishi" (superior position to "Seigoshi"), on important matters. Seigoshi Naruhito Noda was arrested for violation of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law in July 2004 and the criticism by society of the group has become stronger. Fumihiro Joyu, therefore, insisted that it would make the group's future difficult to clarify the training policy of emphasizing absolute faith in Asahara and around the end of 2004 he resumed the measures to "hide the influence of Asahara".
In 2005, Fumihiro Joyu started his Weblog on the Internet and gave his view in addition to holding many meetings outside the cult's facility mainly in Tokyo on insisting on the necessity to "hide the influence of Asahara." After July, he visited many local regions to have meetings with "lay" members and made efforts to cultivate support.
Against such moves by Joyu, people opposed to "hiding the influence of Asahara" including Seigoshi Tatshuko Muraoka and Seigoshi Koichi Ninomiya opposed by emphasizing the problems of "hiding the influence of Asahara" and clarified their attitude to emphasize absolute faith in Asahara based on Asahara's authority by advocating the validity of "succession of royal authority" to a child of Asahara.
Seigoshi Minoru Sugiura, whose stance had been neutral, started to deal with the situation in the middle of September, but Joyu's supporters and opponents did not reconcile. Rather, the rift between the two worsened as Fumihiro Joyu resumed seminars for the first time after two years at the end of October and emphasized the necessity to "hide the influence of Asahara."
While it became difficult for the cult to obtain new facilities, they established a food company by appointing a layman as a Director and then built Koshigaya Ozato facility in Saitama Prefecture as the company's factory by hiding the fact that it was related to Aum Shinrikyo. In May, the factory started for its members the production of food into which, they say, "the energy of Ashara is infused." In addition, it was confirmed that the Higashi-Omiya facility in the same prefecture functioned as a media-related activity base and was keeping and managing all data of Asahara's teaching. The number of the cult base facilities was 28 in 17 prefectures as of the end of November, more than the 26 in February 1, 2000 when the cult was put under surveillance.
Aum Shinrikyo leaders announced a "membership doubling plan" at the beginning of the year. They trained "lay" members on the method of recruiting, and mainly the "ordained" members continued to hold classes and circles disguising as yoga lessons and astrologist's fortune-telling services in major cities around the country such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Some of them put advertisements in regional information magazines to attract perspective members for such lessons and, revealing them the truth gradually, tried to encourage them to be the cult members.
For the purpose of fund-raising, Aum Shinrikyo held seminars and teaching circles every month at their branches or training halls nationwide, where their "seigoshi" leaders gave lectures and collected fees or monetary offerings from participants. Also, during their intensive seminars in May and August, they collected more than 60 million yen in total.
Regarding business operations, 7 members including Seigoshi Shigeru Sugiura were arrested (in May and June) for violating the Employment Security Law by dispatching several members as workers and having them work in software development without authorization. It was an organizational illegal activity following the group's violation of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law in 2004. As a result of the investigation of the case, it was revealed that the group made a profit of about 457 million yen during the period from November 2001 to January 2005.
However, regarding the balance of about 390 million yen owed out of the 960 million yen due by the end of June as compensation for the victims of the sarin nerve gas attack in the Tokyo Subway, the group made an agreement in September with the trustee in bankruptcy to postpone the due date for three years due to its decline in profit and to pay 40 million yen annually.
Aum Shinrikyo made about 50 Russian members out of a total of 300 members live as "ordained" members in several facilities in the City of Moscow. Japanese leaders stationed in Russia gave training and seminars for these ordained members based on Asahara's teaching. A yoga class managed by a Russian member in Moscow displayed Asahara's picture, had the students listen to Asahara's incantation (mantra), and circulated Asahara's books. Thus, the group actively recruited members from the general public.
In February, the Russian press reported that a Russian member had died due to the training involving lying in hot water in a facility in Moscow. For the purpose of evading investigations by the Russian authorities, Aum Shinrikyo closed or moved its facilities one after another in April and made all the stationed Japanese members return to Japan. In June, however, the group resumed its activities in Russia.
(2) On-site inspections were carried out on a total of 29 Aum Shinrikyo facilities.
- The fact that the cult remains under the strong influence of Asahara was confirmed.
- The group is still uncooperative towards the Public Security Intelligence Agency, and its closed, secretive nature has not changed.
- The Agency requested a (second) extension for the surveillance period.
The Public Security Intelligence Agency conducted on-site inspections at a total of 29 facilities of Aum Shinrikyo in 14 prefectures during the period between January and the end of November. (The Agency has inspected a total of 184 facilities in 19 prefectures nationwide since February 2000 when the first inspection was conducted. Please refer to the map on page 58.)
As the result of these on-site inspections, it was confirmed that the cult was still under the strong influence of Asahara, as seen in the fact that many of the books written by Asahara, together with video cassette tapes, DVDs and CDs on which Asahara's teachings were recorded were kept and used in each facility and Asahara's incantation (mantra) or preaching were played.
In the on-site inspection of the Koshigaya Ozato facility in Saitama Prefecture (May 20), the produced foods such as noodles were being "purified" by playing Asahara's incantation (mantra) and it became clear that the facility was a factory for the food called "offerings" for the members.
As a result of the on-site inspections of the Higashi-Omiya facility in Saitama Prefecture (July 14 and 15), it was found that the facility was an essential center for the cult from the fact that a training hall with an alter that is unique for the cult was found, and that all the sermons Asahara had made were kept and managed as video tapes, DVDs, and CDs in the facility, including the one that justifies murder by saying "The time when the guru orders to kill someone, it is already the time for the person to die."
During 2005, the Agency received four reports from Aum Shinrikyo on their activities, which the Agency requested the group to submit on a quarterly basis. (Since March 2000 when the first report was submitted, the Agency has received a total of twenty-four reports from the group.) In accordance with Article 32 of the organization control law, the Agency has allowed municipal governments (a total of 13 municipalities in three prefectures) to read a total of 46 reports on Aum Shinrikyo during the period between January and the end of November.Those 46 reports include the submitted reports from the group and results of the Agency's investigations on the group's facilities. (Since February 2000, a total of 304 reports have been made available by the Agency to a total of 40 municipalities nationwide.)
The cult maintained its uncooperative attitude such as obstructing the inspection procedures when on-site inspections were conducted. The cult lost its lawsuit to request state compensation for receiving mental distress by on-site inspections on June 24 at the Tokyo District Court. In the trial, the cult asserted that photo shootings during the inspections were illegal since they were tantamount to confiscation, which the Agency was not allowed to do. The court rejected the assertion, however, saying that it was no more than a one-sided claim. The cult, however, continued its uncooperative attitude for on-site inspections by rejecting photo shootings of items to be investigated by asserting that "Photo shooting is not acceptable as it is tantamount to confiscation."
The Agency decided that it was necessary to continue to shed light on Aum Shinrikyo's activities for the following reasons and requested the Public Security Examination Commission on November 25 to extend a surveillance period for another three years (as the second time):
Even after the extension of the surveillance period for Aum Shinrikyo was determined in January 2003,
1) Asahara still maintains his absolute influence on the group as seen by the fact that the members calls him "guru" and "respectable teacher" and show absolute faith in and obedience to him;
2) Asahara, who was the ringleader of two sarin nerve gas attacks in Matsumoto and the Tokyo Subway, is still its representative member, and five people including Masami Tsuchiya and Tomomitsu Niimi who were involved in both attacks are still members of the cult;
3) In addition to Asahara's being representative of the group at the time of the attacks and even at present, Fumihiro Joyu, Naruhito Noda, and Shigeru Sugiura who were "ministers" at the time of the attacks are still executive members of the cult;
4) The cult continues to recommend murder as seen in the facts that it has "Plans to make Japan into Shambhala" to build a society based on Asahara's teaching and the cult's dogma and that it is a code of conduct for its members to practice "tantra vajarayana" that includes the teaching that "For realizing the Plan, it is correct to kill the powers against Aum Shinrikyo or the persons with evil acts";
5) It is acknowledged that the cult has a dangerous nature to commit indiscriminate mass murder as seen in the facts that, in addition to maintaining the training system that aims at unquestioningly following Asahara and his teachings, the group has the rank system with order of upper and obedience of lower rank and a closed system to make the ordained members live together in its facilities and make it difficult for them to have contact with the outside world, and the group justifies the two sarin nerve gas attacks as practices of "tantra vajarayana" that recommends murder. Moreover, as described above, the cult has a closed nature separate from the general public and does not reveal the true situation of the group, and it is obvious that the group tries to hide the reality. The residents in the regions have anxiety and fear, and many local residents and related municipalities request the government to extent the period of surveillance.
Various domestic groups continue moves related to the deployment of Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in Iraq.
- The Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups opposed the government's decision to send the SDF to Iraq.Deterioration of security in Iraq intensified their calls for the withdrawal of the Forces from Iraq.
- Most of the right-wing groups maintained their stance supporting the government's decision to keep the SDF in Iraq.
Following the cabinet's decision at the end of 2004 to extend the stationing of the SDF troops in Iraq that were engaged in reconstruction assistance, the Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups asserted that "Extension of the deployment of the SDF in Iraq is to assist the illegal U.S. and British military occupation in Iraq, and in addition, held meetings and demonstrations as well as made requests at various SDF bases for "an end to the occupation in Iraq by the U.S. and British military and immediate withdrawal of the SDF from Iraq" from the beginning of the year. Especially during the period between the fifth (February) and the eighth (October and November) dispatches of the Ground SDF, they repeatedly held protest activities to "prevent dispatches" around respective SDF bases by appealing to groups of local citizens to join the protests. Meanwhile, in Iraq, a Japanese man guarding a U.S. military facility was abducted and killed (May) and some incidents occurred including rockets being shot around the Ground SDF's billet, and a SDF vehicle being damaged by a roadside bombing in Samawa City. Based on these incidents, the Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups repeatedly requested "immediate withdrawal of the SDF from Iraq" insisting that "It is obvious that security in the whole of Iraq is deteriorating." and that "The government's view of Samawa as a non-combat area is now invalid." Regarding the simultaneous multiple terrorist attacks in London in July, the Chukaku-ha extremist group expressed their view approving them as an "outburst of rage by Muslim citizens against the Iraq invasion" and ranted that "We wouldn' t be surprised if Japan is attacked by Muslim citizens as long as the SDF stays in Iraq."
On the other hand, most of the right-wing groups kept their attitudes to support the government's decision to keep the SDF in Iraq, saying "It is an important duty to show Japan's defense power to the world", and every time between the departure of the fifth and the eighth SDF troops from Japan, the regional right-wing groups led activities such as submitting letters to encourage the troops and seeing them off nearby bases by holding Japanese flags or yellow flags to pray for their safe return.
In March (on the 2nd anniversary of the outbreak of the Iraqi war) and September (on the 4th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks in the U.S.), the antiwar organization named WORLD PEACE NOW, consisting of extremist-linked groups and civic groups, held meetings and demonstrations to request immediate withdrawal of the SDF from Iraq, and tried to widen the scope of its movement by taking up the issue of the U.S. military base in Okinawa. The "Movement for Democratic Socialism" (MDS), which calls for realization of a socialist society, attended the "World Tribunal on Iraq," a mock trial in which about 50 groups from 17 countries worldwide participated to "pursue responsibility for war crimes committed by the U.S. and Britain." In addition, the MDS held active exchanges with Iraqi groups.
Following on from 2004, the Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups continued their efforts to participate and cooperate in the activities of civic anti-war groups, which included the campaign for the elimination of weapons with depleted uranium, in relation to an appeal for withdrawal of the SDF from Iraq, with the assertion that "The SDF members are exposed to radiation from depleted uranium shells of the U.S. military," and the campaign for a lawsuit to request the suspension of SDF dispatch by asserting that it's unconstitutional. In these activities, lectures by an Iraqi doctor and Jordanian lawyer who was a lawyer for the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein were held in various places, and they strongly emphasized the "illegality of the Iraqi war" and "withdrawal of the SDF."
The Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups criticized the extension of the deployment as "a continuation and extension of the invasion war in Iraq." A Chukaku-ha extremist group requested the termination of dispatch to the Ground Self Defense Force Headquarters in Tokyo in October following news coverage on the 9th SDF dispatch, the first one following the decision on the extension and which will be formed from the Ground Self-Defense Force 1st Division (Tokyo).
It is expected that, in 2006, they will make an effort to arouse public opinion for SDF withdrawal by taking steps designed "to terminate the 9th SDF dispatch" from the beginning of the year and by emphasizing the situation of anti-Iraqi war demonstrations in the U.S. One needs to be aware of the possibility that the anti-mainstream faction of the Kaiho-ha group of the Revolutionary Workers Association, which repeats the strong assertion of a "significant leap of revolutionary armed fights", may mix the issues of SDF dispatch to Iraq and the reconstitution of the U.S. military forces in Japan and carry out guerrilla attacks on the facilities of the SDF and those of the U.S. military bases in Japan.
(1) The Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups have intensified their anti-U.S. military stance and antinuclear activities in the wake of the reorganization of U.S. troops in Japan and the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings.
- The Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups engaged in the movement to "oppose the increase in military capabilities of the U.S. bases in Japan" by keeping in check the moves of the municipalities where the bases are located.
- The Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups made efforts to stimulate the movement for nuclear disarmament by making requests to the United Nations and making international exchanges in the World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs.
While discussions continued between both Japanese and U.S. governments on the reorganization of U.S. military forces in Japan, the Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups assumed the plan to relocate and reconstitute the U.S. military functions, including the relocation from the Futenma base of Okinawa, to be aimed at the "strengthening of the U.S. military function in Japan", and increased active protest activities. In addition, they attempted to add impetus to the movement on nuclear disarmament through activities carried out on the 60th anniversary of the nuclear bombings in Japan.
Regarding the return of the U.S. military Futenma base in Okinawa, the Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups in Okinawa have actively participated in anti-U.S. military meetings and "human chain" campaigns encircling the base held by anti-U.S. military groups "to insist on the immediate return of the base and oppose relocation in the prefecture".
At Henoko of Nago City where the construction of a new facility to replace Futenma base is scheduled, to prevent the start of ocean floor boring for marine surveys, they have continued a sit-in with Okinawan citizens and also conducted daily marine patrols by small boats after occupying the scaffold constructed for the survey operation off Henoko shore. For these protest activities, radical leftist groups from mainland Japan helped them by sending activists to Okinawa and carrying out fund-raising campaigns for the activities.
On the other hand, when the relocation of the US Army's 1st Corps headquarters to Camp Zama and the transfer of carrier-based aircraft from the U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi to that in Iwakuni were discussed, the Japan Communist party held protest demonstrations and street speeches around those bases, participated in the opposition signature campaign of municipalities, and exchanged opinions with the leaders of municipalities who expressed their opposition towards relocations. In this way, they strengthened their approach toward municipalities.
The Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups criticized the interim report on the reorganization of U.S. forces stationed in Japan released in October, commenting that "The plan is to strengthen the U.S. forces in Japan and to promote the consolidation of the U.S. military and Japanese Self-Defense Forces." The location of the facility to replace Futenma base, which was the focal issue of the discussion on reorganization, was changed from the location offshore from Henoko to Camp Schwab. They opposed the change, stating "It's just passing the problem around in Okinawa and ignoring the opinions of Okinawan citizens." and emphasized that they would intensify the protest activities. When the U.S. President visited Japan in November, they held protests against the reorganization of U.S. forces in Japan.
It is expected that the Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups will continue their activities to seek for the withdrawal of the U.S. forces in Japan together with anti-U.S. military base groups and in cooperation with municipalities.
The Japanese Communist Party positioned 2005, a year that fell on the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings, as a "turning point for abolition of nuclear weapons", and made efforts to increase nuclear disarmament activities. The Japan Council against A & H Bombs, the Communist body promoting nuclear disarmament activities, sent a delegation of about 830 people to the U.S. in May on the occasion of the meeting to re-examine the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and submitted to the United Nations the signatures of about 5 million people asking for nuclear disarmament that had been collected from August 2003. They also attended the meetings and parades in New York held for nuclear disarmament by anti-nuclear groups in the U.S., and actively held exchanges with overseas groups.
In the World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs in August in Japan, 264 overseas representatives from 29 countries, a record-high number, were invited in order to bring about close cooperation with the government representatives of countries that do not have nuclear weapons and with overseas anti-nuclear groups and pacifist groups. In the Conference, based on the fact that reexamination of the NPT had not concluded in an agreement on the reduction of nuclear weapons, U.S. policy was criticized as "promoting the strengthening of a system to monopolize nuclear weapons", and it was decided to conduct a joint international campaign to request members of the United Nations to hold a U.N. meeting aimed at observing the terms of the NPT and fulfilling nuclear disarmament steps. They also requested the Japanese government to take initiatives toward nuclear disarmament and confirmed a step-up in cooperation with the countries not possessing nuclear weapons and with pacifist groups.
During the Conference, the Japan Council against A & H Bombs held an International Youth Rally for the first time for the purpose "of inheriting the experience of the A-bomb victims". About 3,000 people including young people from overseas assembled, according to a host organization of the Rally. Meanwhile, the Chukaku-ha extremist group held a "Young Workers Exchange Meeting" with labor unions and civic groups in Hiroshima and called for young workers' leadership in anti-war and anti-nuclear activities.
It is expected that the Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups will actively approach governments of countries that do not have nuclear weapons and also anti-nuclear and pacifist groups overseas in an effort to bring about nuclear disarmament in the future and will make efforts to spread the movement to young people.
(2) The Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups have criticized the government on, among others, amendment of the Constitution, selection of history textbooks, and Prime Minister Koizumi' s formal visits to Yasukuni Shrine.
- The Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups criticized the ruling party and the Democratic Party of Japan that promote steps for the amendment of the Constitution.
- They intensified criticism on the issue of selection of history textbooks and Prime Minister Koizumi's formal visit to Yasukuni Shrine.
The Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups have organized various anti-Constitutional amendment activities that demanded to protect the Constitution. This is in opposition to moves in the ruling party and the Democratic Party of Japan which are reflected in the resolution on the final report of the Research Commissions on the Constitution of both houses of the Diet (April) and in the establishment of the Lower House Special Committee on the Constitution (September).
The Japanese Communist Party again showed its anti-amendment policy in the third Plenum of the Japanese Communist Party Central Committee (April), and encouraged its members to play an active role in the regions and the companies in forming organizations of the "Article 9 Association" that hold lectures and other activities employing celebrities. On the Constitution Day, they put a full-page advertisement in both the "Asahi" and "Mainichi" newspapers and warned that "The amendment of Article 9 will change Japan into a country engaging in warfare overseas." and called on the people to join in anti-amendment activities. On the occasion of the start of discussions for formulating the national referendum law in the Lower House Special Committee on the Constitution, the publication of "the draft for the new Constitution" of the Liberal Democratic Party, and "the proposal for the Constitution" by the Democratic Party of Japan (October), they criticized, saying "Both Liberal Democratic Party and Democratic Party of Japan are accelerating the formulation of the draft for the amendment of the Constitution." and "They are focusing on the amendment of Paragraph 2 of Article 9 of the Constitution."
Radical leftist groups attempted to provide impetus to the anti-amendment movement by holding anti-amendment meetings all over the country on Constitution Day, having activists attend meetings and seminars by civic groups and distributing flyers.
The textbooks in history and public affairs compiled by the "Society for Composing a New Textbook on History" had received approval from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. In response to this, the Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups intensified their efforts to prevent the textbooks from being selected for circulation. The Japanese Communist Party considered the textbooks to "justify the war of aggression and colonial occupation", and made efforts to make their views known among local residents through advertisements, talks and seminars, in addition to requesting local education boards and their members not to adopt the textbooks. Against the Education Board of Suginami Ward of Tokyo that adopted the Society's history textbook (August 12), the Chukaku-ha extremist group intensified protest movements by carrying out a "human chain" campaign encircling the Ward Office in addition to activities such as street speeches, collecting signatures, and sit-in protests.
In the end, only 0.4% of all the municipalities decided to adopt the Society' s version of the textbooks. The Japanese Communist Party positively evaluated this as "the result of sound judgment by a nation which believes that wars like the World War should not be repeated."
The Japanese Communist Party mounted a "Campaign to criticize the Prime Minister's visit to Yasukuni" (May to July), insisting that it "gives government endorsement to the Yasukuni Shrine's perspective on the past wars of aggression as wars for self-existence and self-defense", and attempted arouse public opinion in an effort to stop it. Radical leftist groups criticized the visit as "declaring a new war of aggression towards China and Korea."
Regarding the Prime Minister's 5th visit to the Shrine since his taking office (October 17), the Japanese Communist Party criticized that "this will further aggravate political difficulties in Japanese diplomacy" and the Chukaku-ha extremist groups held protest activities chanting slogans No to the Yasukuni visits! near the Shrine.
It is expected that the Japanese Communist Party and radical leftist groups will further strengthen their various protest activities, while paying close attention to various issues including the moves for the preparation of a national referendum and the Prime Minister's visits to Yasukuni Shrine.
(3) Radical leftist groups seek to spread their influence to the wider public.
- Radical leftist groups aimed to draw workers into their groups by concealing their political affiliation and to assemble citizens through anti-Iraq war movements.
Given the decline in Communism, many radical leftist groups tried to approach and infiltrate into workers' movements and civic movements by concealing their political affiliation, while retaining their ideal of violent revolution, and made efforts to expand their influence based on the policy of putting priority on rebuilding organizations.
Based on its "New Guidelines" (proposed in 2003) to emphasize labor movements, the Chukaku-ha extremist group made every possible effort to expand their power on the labor front. In particular, they called spreading their influence to teachers a "decisive area for influencing workers," and distributed flyers calling for the "refusal of use of the national flag and national anthem" in Tokyo, Osaka, and Hiroshima in the morning to teachers who were wavering on the issues of singing the national anthem during entrance or graduation ceremonies at high schools and standing up at the time the national flag is hoisted. Furthermore, they conducted "organizing activity" by mobilizing the members of their affiliated civic group "Block the road to war! - One Million Signature Campaign" and having them visit individual offices of teachers' unions. After the history and civics textbook compiled by the "Society for Composing a New Textbook on History" had received the stamp of approval from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the Chukaku-ha proposed to the teachers' union and civic groups that opposed the textbook to join in their activities by putting the Chukaku-ha related civic groups at the forefront and conducted a signature collecting campaign and moves to request municipalities not to adopt the textbook. During the course, they invited teachers and citizens to the seminars hosted by the group and had them participate in meetings to prevent the adoption of the textbook and tried to draw them into the groups. As a result, a record-high number of about 2,700 people (about 2,350 in 2004) gathered to participate in the November annual "Nationwide Laborers' Rally" (Tokyo) as the place where all groups stand up". To this gathering, they invited representatives from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union of the U.S., thereby strongly appealing both inside and outside Japan.
It is expected that the Chukaku-ha extremist group will continue and strengthen measures to expand its organization for the time being in 2006 by publishing at the beginning of the year "Appeal by the Revolutionary Army" in its paper "Zenshin (advancement)" and by keeping their armed front tactics.
The mainstream factions and anti-mainstream factions of the Kaiho-ha group of the Revolutionary Workers Association tried respectively to widen their organizational bases by conducting activities targeting government organizations to request livelihood support such as soup kitchens and improvement of the working conditions for daily workers at the so-called "Yoseba" (places where daily workers get jobs) in Tokyo, Fukuoka, and other regions.
The Kakumaru-ha extremist group tried to expand their influence in labor unions of basic industries and, at the same time, to spread their ideas to the general public through activities opposing amendment of the Constitution. The Japanese Communist Party mentioned in its party newspaper "Shimbun Akahata" that the Kakumaru-ha extremist group were involved in activities opposing amendment of the Constitution and pointed out that "The purpose of the Kakumaru-ha group that approaches Constitutional activities using the front of a civic group is to confuse and destroy democratic movements."
The Movement for Democratic Socialism (MDS) that calls for realization of a socialist society showed its unique characteristics by holding anti-war meetings inviting Iraqi representatives of a movement trying to democratize Iraq. In particular, for Iraqi anti-war movements that MDS promoted, they established in several regions "Committees for Solidarity with Iraqi Civil Resistance" as groups to bring people together and made efforts to increase their membership by holding various events to introduce the suffering of Iraqi citizens.
In addition, as a movement opposing the government's formation of a system to prepare for national emergencies, MDS started a movement to formulate regulations on the "declaration for non-defended localities" based on the Geneva Convention supplementary protocol by organizing groups of citizens from 8 municipalities including Arakawa Ward of Tokyo and collected signatures of the people exceeding the number necessary to make direct requests to formulate city ordinances. Furthermore, while the national network of MDS comprised of regional groups attempted to diffuse the movement by holding seminars and gathering supporters for the "endorsement by 1000 people campaign" that made appeals by using celebrities as promoters, MDS encouraged the citizens that cooperated in the movement to participate in the meetings of its affiliated organizations, to subscribe to its own newspaper, and to become members of MDS.
It is expected that MDS will try to gather citizens by focusing on the "democratization of Iraq" movement and the "declaration for non-defended localities."
(4) The Japanese Communist Party claims its raison d'etre as an opposition party
- The Party criticizes the Democratic Party of Japan, another opposition party, for taking exactly the same policy stance as the ruling coalition.
- The Party manages to put a halt to its continued decline in representation in national elections, this time maintaining its 9 seats in the general election.
The Japanese Communist Party' s seats decreased dramatically in both the general elections in 2003 (from 20 to 9) and the House of Councilors elections in 2004 (from 15 to 4) and faced the risk of being forgotten by the public interested in the "two-party system." For establishing "a new political direction", the Party made every possible effort from the beginning of the year, including 1) to emphasize its importance as an opposition party and spread its values and reasons for its necessary existence among the public, and 2) to strengthen its power by increasing its membership and circulation of the Party's "Akahata newspaper."
The Democratic Party of Japan had stated in its Declaration as "the Party Preparing for the Next Administration" (February) that the Party would not call itself an "opposition party" any more. As one measure to make its status as an opposition party look appealing, the Japanese Communist Party pointed out in the 3rd Plenum of the Japanese Communist Party Central Committee in April that the Democratic Party of Japan had given up criticizing the administration of the Liberal Democratic Party. The Japanese Communist Party emphasized that the Party's role as "a proper opposition party" had become clearer and showed a critical and promotion stance equating the Democratic Party of Japan with ruling coalition parties. Afterwards, the Party repeatedly argued on the streets and in speeches that "The unhealthy competition between the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito coalition and the Democratic Party of Japan can be observed for both the issues of Constitutional amendment and the increase in the consumption tax." and tried to strongly impress on the public the Party's existence as a party opposing the policies of the Liberal Democratic Party. Furthermore, in the 4th Plenum of the Japanese Communist Party Central Committee in October, the Party confirmed that the fight against the challenge of "formation of a two-party system" would be its long-term concern and showed its attitude of continued criticism of the Democratic Party of Japan.
In the general election in September, using "a reliable opposition party" as its catchphrase, the Party tried to obtain support from swing voters and anti-Liberal Democratic Party voters by adopting a stance strongly opposing the policy of postal service privatization which was the campaign issue of the election and targeting the issues of taxation, social security, and amendment of the Constitution as the main themes.
For the first time, the Party did not field candidates in all 300 single-seat electoral districts but only in 275 districts. Concerning the fielding, the announced policy agreed in the Meeting of the Chairmen of Prefectural Committees in November 2004 was to build a system capable of piling up enough votes for proportional representation blocs by decreasing the number of candidates for the blocs from eight to five. The Party however aggressively fielded candidates, because there wasn't enough time preparing such a system due to the sudden dissolution of the Diet and the holding of the general election.
As a result of the election, the Party obtained about 4.92 million votes in proportional representation blocs, around 330,000 votes more than in the previous general election, and obtained 9 seats, the same number as before (though they were unable to secure a seat in single-seat districts). Though the goal of obtaining seats in "all eleven proportional representation blocs" could not be fulfilled, the Party was able to put a brake on its decline in the seat numbers in national elections that had continued since 2000. The Party evaluated this result as "a good fight and a good achievement" and showed its view that it would be an important foundation for further full-scale advancement in future national elections (September 12, Statement by the executive board meeting).
In the 3rd Plenum mentioned above in which the 24th Congress in January 2006 was announced, the Party proposed "a big campaign to improve the organizational strength" in the run-up to the Congress (The goal was 450,000 members and a circulation of 2 million copies of the "Akahata newspaper") and aimed to further boost the sluggish improvement in organizational strength. However, the Party' s efforts in recruiting and solicitations for subscription were insufficient because the entire organization nationwide was making efforts to support the metropolitan assembly elections in June and July and the Party concentrated with a unified effort on the general election in August and September. As a result, the increase in the number of Party members was very small (about 400,000 members) compared to the beginning of the year and the circulation of the newspaper decreased (to about 1.65 million).
It is expected that the Party will hold the 24th Congress and decide its policies on taxation, amendment of the Constitution, and security as its main themes, will paint itself as "a reliable opposition party" that opposes the policies of the Liberal Democratic Party, and make efforts to obtain support from swing voters and anti- Liberal Democratic Party voters and improve its organizational strength.
(5) The Japanese Red Army has yet to resume any activity in Japan.
- Domestic support for the Japanese Red Army still stagnant.
- Some of the Army's members, wanted internationally as terrorists, are still at large.
The Japanese Red Army holds its annual meeting every year on or around May 30th to commemorate the Lod Airport Massacre in Tel Aviv which the Army caused on May 30, 1972. The Army members call their Tel Aviv Massacre the "War of Ridda" and refer to the date of May 30th as "the anniversary of the War of Ridda." In 2005, they as usual held their commemorative meetings on May 28 in the Kanto (eastern) region and on July 18 in the Kansai (western) region respectively. However, there was no active publicity in advance to advertise the commemorative meetings, and this resulted in a low participation (about 40 persons) like in 2004.
Meanwhile "Solidarity," the successor organization to the Japanese Red Army in regards to its public activities, has only published its journal, Newsletter Solidarity, on an irregular basis and did not hold a meeting in 2005 for the discussion of Palestine issues which they used to in the past.
Seven members of the Japanese Red Army who are wanted as culprits responsible for vicious crimes in the past remain fugitives. They include Kozo Okamoto who is hiding in Lebanon (the Lebanese government has accepted him as a political refugee), and Junzo Okudaira, Norio Sasaki and Kunio Bando who are responsible for hijacking and other crimes.
In Japan, the Army' s founder and leader, Fusako Shigenobu, published her statement in the journal, Newsletter Solidarity, in the same manner as 2004, for the "May 30 commemorative meeting" (held on May 28). In her statement, Shigenobu reconfirmed her high evaluation of the Tel Aviv massacre as the starting point for the Japanese Red Army. The journal itself published a "statement" admiring the massacre in the same issue.
The above illustrates that the Japanese Red Army remains a menace to our society, and that continued close attention to their activities is warranted.
(6) Japanese anti-globalization groups seek to strengthen their activities in East Asia.
- The "5th World Social Forum" has confirmed the gathering of support to oppose the WTO ministerial conference.
- Japanese anti-globalization groups have been developing their activities in cooperation with their Korean counterparts.
In January, anti-globalization groups around the world held the "5th World Social Forum" in Porto Alegre, Brazil that registered a record 155,000 in participants from 135 countries (according to a host organization of the Forum). The Forum started with a demonstration parade to protest against the "Iraqi War by President Bush." During the 6-day Forum, about 2,500 workshops were held on eleven themes including "Peace, demilitarization and struggle against war, free trade and debt" and "Economic sovereignty of people against neo-liberal capitalism." In addition, the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who attended the Forum repeatedly criticized the mono-polar policies promoted by the United States and received great applause, implying that the anti-U.S. sentiment of the Forum has become more prevalent.
In addition, one of the workshops, the "World Social Movement Meeting", adopted the policy to have protest activities on site against the 6th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to be held in Hong Kong during the period between December 13 and 18. This aimed at strengthening anti-globalization activities in Asia.
Recent anti-globalization movements in Japan have been promoted mainly by ATTAC Japan, a group led by JRCL (former member of Fourth International). They have made efforts to expand and strengthen their activities by promoting joint activities with foreign groups, including Korean and other Asian anti-globalization groups, and have centered efforts on protest activities against the 6th ministerial conference of the WTO which they have been criticizing as "an organization to promote globalization of neo-liberalism."
In January, ATTAC Japan sent about 30 representatives to the 5th World Social Forum, the largest delegation from Japan, and tried to make exchanges with ATTAC members from other countries, together with attending the above-mentioned workshop "World Social Movement Meeting", and promised to participate in the anti-WTO activities. As a result of the decision, they positioned the protest activity against the WTO Hong Kong ministerial conference as the most important issue in 2005, and by working on "AWC Japan" which is led by Asia Wide Campaign, they dispatched activists to the preparatory meeting held in Hong Kong in February (consisting of about 250 people from 23 countries and regions) and discussed the implementation of the protest activity against the WTO Hong Kong ministerial conference to be conducted as an international joint activity. In July, they invited a representative of the "Hong Kong People' s Alliance on WTO" which leads anti-WTO activity in Hong Kong and held a symposium and called for participation in the international joint activity by domestic anti-globalization groups.
Furthermore, ATTAC Japan took the ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference (APEC) to be held in Korea (November 15 to 19, Pusan) as an activity "to support the WTO agreement" and decided to hold a protest activity in Pusan in response to a request by a Korean organization as an activity preceding the international joint activity against the WTO. On this basis, they invited executives of the Korean labor union from September to October in cooperation with AWC-Japan, and attempted to stimulate protest activity by holding a number of meetings and demonstrations that they named the "Nationwide Chain of Movements" in 14 regions nationwide including Tokyo and Fukuoka. For the November APEC conference, groups including ATTAC Japan and AWC Japan sent about 80 people to the protest activity in Korea, the major target of which was to prevent the attendance of President Bush. Meetings and demonstrations were held every day in cooperation with groups from Korea, the U.S. and the Philippines, and they expressed "opposition to actions of APEC which increase war and poverty." In addition, ATTAC Japan participated in the "Pusan International Peoples' Forum", which was held as one of the protest activities and whose purpose was to strengthen the collaboration of anti-globalization groups in Asian countries, and confirmed its intentions regarding anti-WTO international joint activities.
The "World Social Forum" in 2006 will be held in five separate locations worldwide. It is expected that ATTAC Japan and other groups will actively participate in the "East Asia Social Forum" to be held in Thailand in October and promote cooperation and exchange based on the joint activities with the groups from other Asian countries regarding anti-APEC and anti-WTO activities. In this way, an attempt will be made to strengthen the anti-globalization movement in East Asia.
Japanese right-wing groups focused their activities on diplomatic and territorial issues with China and Korea.
- Anti-Japanese demonstrations in China triggered anti-Chinese activities by Japanese right-wing groups.
- Japanese right-wing groups carried out various activities on the occasion of the "Takeshima Day" ordinance formulation.
The number of right-wing groups that are affiliated with organized criminal groups is increasing due to the power struggle among the latter. In particular the number of groups affiliated with Yamaguchi-gumi whose kumicho or Godfather changed in 2005 notably increased. Each right-wing group was unable to resolve its chronic financial difficulties due to the economic depression and tightened control by the authorities, but tried to cut down expenses and focused on issues of high public interest such as diplomatic and territorial issues.
The right-wing groups took the viewpoint that "the Chinese government is using" the anti-Japanese demonstrations that repeatedly occurred in various places in China from the end of March "as an outlet for the Chinese people to release frustration felt against their own government", and protested around Chinese diplomatic offices in Japan to make "requests for compensation" and actively carried out activities criticizing the Japanese government's "weak attitude toward China." At the end of April, a member of a right-wing group threw a petrol bomb at the Yokohama Branch of the Bank of China.Though the number of anti-Japanese demonstrations in China decreased after May, the right-wing groups held protest activities on the occasions of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) of foreign ministers held in Kyoto at which VIPs from the Chinese government attended and of the China National Day at the Aichi EXPO (May). They also held protest activities they called "Anti-China Day" (September) in Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka to request a break-off in diplomatic relations with China and the activity "Anti-China United Youth Action - Don't open the Chinese consulate!" to oppose the opening of a Chinese diplomatic office in Nagoya (October).
Anti-Japanese protests in South Korea involving the burning of the Japanese flag and the picture of Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi surfaced after the Shimane Prefectural Assembly enacted the "Takeshima Day" ordinance (March) to commemorate on February 22 the centennial of the island becoming an administrative district of the prefecture. Japanese right-wing groups actively staged various protests targeting Korean diplomatic offices in Japan demanding they "get out of Takeshima Island that Korea illegally occupies." These activities included the following: a person cut his little finger and sent parts of it with protest letters sealed with blood to both the Korean and Japanese governments, saying this was "to show how serious we are" (March); a boat left Oki Island of Shimane Prefecture to go to Takeshima Island "to give the Japanese government an opportunity to consider the Takeshima issue" (June); and protests were made targeting Korean diplomatic offices in Japan, called the "Nationwide united action to regain Takeshima" (October).
Regarding North Korea, Japanese right-wing groups considered that there had been no concrete development on the issues of the abduction of Japanese nationals and nuclear development and continued their protest activities including street speeches to request economic sanctions be taken against North Korea and opposing the entry of Man Gyon Bong-92 into Niigata Port. Some groups participated in the meetings and demonstration parades held by the support groups for victims of the abductions. A former member of a right-wing group took North Korea's missile test as a declaration of war against Japan and protested by setting fire to himself near Chongryon central headquarters (May).
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII, Japanese right-wing groups repeatedly requested Prime Minister Koizumi to formally visit Yasukuni Shrine on the anniversary day in August, which was one of the Prime Minister' s campaign pledges. Opposing the opinions from inside and outside Japan requesting Koizumi to refrain from visiting the Shrine, the groups increased protests and requests targeting Chinese and Korean diplomatic offices in Japan as well as Japanese people in government and financial circles who opposed the visits. Nishi-Honganji Temple in Kyoto announced a statement considering the Prime Minister's visit to Yasukuni Shrine as unconstitutional, and a member of a right-wing group with a knife intruded into the temple's Amida Hall and sprinkled kerosene (September) to protest the announcement. Right-wing groups rather positively evaluated the Prime Minister's visit to the Shrine on October 17, the first day of the autumnal festival, but some expressed dissatisfaction on the informality of the visit.
It is expected that Japanese right-wing groups will continue activities requesting the government and Liberal Democratic Party to take strong measures mainly for diplomacy issues with China and Korea such as those on North Korea, Japanese territories, and historical perceptions. They may also pay attention to moves to construct a national memorial facility for war victims. Regarding the issue of amendment to the Imperial House Law regarding the issue of the Imperial succession, they showed a strong interest although they were very reserved in expressing their opinions.
Cults and cult-like organizations engaged in various activities based on their idiosyncratic ideas and principles
- Some groups relentlessly recruited members by inciting fear and uneasiness among people.
Exclusive cults developed their unique activities in 2005 as well based on their idiosyncratic ideas and principles that are completely different from those usually accepted by the society.
One cult, which reported in the press to have predicted another big earthquake in Tokyo and to be planning to take advantage of this by staging a coup, disclosed rituals administered to their members to the mass media following a series of press reports. Meanwhile, the cult denied its coup intentions by saying "The real purpose was not to execute it but to make sure the members are prepared." In June, it was pointed out that a company related to the group had illegally failed to declare tax for 130 million yen earned during three years by making its employees return a part of their salaries and about 36 million yen was imposed as a penalty tax.
Another cult, which targets membership of three million in ten years, incited peoples' fear by using the subject of successive natural disasters, e.g. "Big earthquakes and abnormal climate are omens of warfare", and promulgated their stance by appealing "Let's save Japan from ruin by gathering the best 100,000 men." They also relentlessly recruited young people including university students and caused an incident of illegal confinement for which some members were arrested and related facilities were searched (July). This caused their friction with society to surface.
Yet another cult called for "unification of the Korean Peninsula" and had Korean residents in Japan participate in a convention held in Korea, aiming at forming a new organization to unify the South Korean and North Korean residents in Japan. This resulted in friction with other Korean organizations in Japan. These exclusive cults have been trying to strengthen their power by inciting peoples' sense of crisis and fear in order to realize their respective idiosyncratic ideas and principles. A point of concern is that they may commit illegal acts in the process.
(C)Copyright 1998-2006 Ministry of Justice.