By Shinji Naito
The Japanese Communist Party has been unable to stop the decline in the readership of Shimbun Akahata, the party’s official newspaper that supports its finances. In the Aug. 29 issue, the party reported that the number of readers had fallen below one million, roughly 30% of the peak level. It also emphasized that it is feeling alarmed, saying, “We need to protect Shimbun Akahata and the party’s finances.” Fewer and fewer rank-and-file party members are paying membership fees, weakening the foundation of the time-honored political party that will commemorate its 100th anniversary three years from now.
The party refuses to accept government subsidies and donations from companies and organizations. Its financial foundation is supported by subscription fees for the official newspaper, party membership fees, and so on. The number of subscribers of Shimbun Akahata (daily edition and Sunday edition), which stood at 340,000 in 1961, has been declining after hitting a peak of 3.55 million in 1980. Also, the number of rank-and-file party members, which was more than 80,000 in 1961, has fallen to roughly 300,000 in 2017 after reaching 500,000 or so in 1990. (Abridged)