The Japanese Communist Party (JCP) is trying to revitalize the party by adopting a softer line because its crushing defeat in the recent House of Representatives election indicated that it badly needs the support of young people. It is working to rid itself of the image of being straitlaced by introducing an online “supporter” system for supporters to communicate with the party and starting an electronic version of its official organ, Shimbun Akahata.
The JCP lost the anti-administration votes to the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) in the last election, reducing its Lower House seats from the previous 21 to 12. Party officials are alarmed by this situation and its chairman, Kazuo Shii has stated, “We can’t claim that we’ve made sufficient efforts to recruit supporters.”
The party would like to win over more young supporters, if only to avoid the fate of a gradual decline due to the aging of party members, but the CDPJ is one step ahead of it in the skillful use of social media.
In order to change the status quo, the JCP is introducing a “supporter” system this month which will make it easier for people to participate without actually becoming party members. There is no membership fee and supporters only need to be in contact with the party through a smartphone app. Participation in meetings and the handing out of leaflets will only be limited to those who wish to do so. The strategy is to encourage people to take an interest in the JCP as a first step.
The electronic version of Shimbun Akahata will be launched in July. A senior party official is hopeful that this will attract more readers than the hand-delivered paper version.