Japan: 60 Years Since 'Red Purge'

Original source: Japan Press Weekly

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the “red purge,” a major sweep of Japanese Communist Party members and its supporters during the U.S. occupation of Japan. The following are excerpts of an Akahata interview with Kaneko Keiji, who leads a nationwide struggle of “red purge” victims to restore their honor and provide state compensation for their sufferings:

In 1949, mass dismissals of JCP members and union activists took place in government offices and private companies. Within the next year, the wave of unjust sacking covered all industries in Japan, ousting nearly 40,000 workers from their workplaces as “subversives.”

Anti-communist breakwater

The “red purge” incident was carried out by the Japanese government and business circles under the guide of the U.S. occupation forces. It was their attempt to turn Japan into an “anti-communist breakwater” amid the upsurge of labor struggles and the JCP’s influence domestically as well as the progress of peoples’ movements internationally.

The victims and their families suffered incalculable damages socially and economically. Their sufferings were so great that some of them even committed suicide. The incident also delivered a fatal blow to domestic movements to defend people’s livelihoods, establish fundamental human rights, and achieve an independent economic recovery and true peace. It paved the way for Japan’s current subordination to the United States and Japanese business circles.

The U.S. and Japanese governments along with Japan’s business circles have never offered an apology for the “red purge” incident or given relief to the victims. The Supreme Court abandoned the principle of judicial independence and made a humiliating judgment in support of the illegal dismissals. This should be recognized as the root cause of the continuing discrimination against workers based on their beliefs that still exist in many workplaces.

Lawyers’ recommendations

Victims’ struggles have continued in various forms, such as petitions, court struggles, and representations to the government.

The recent turning point for our movement has been brought by recommendations to the government published by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) and its local branches in Yokohama, Nagasaki, and Sendai cities. These recommendations denounce the major dismissals of communists as violating freedom of conscience, equality for all, and freedom of association. They urge the government to restore the victims’ honor and compensate them for damages.

These recommendations have underlined the illegality of the “red purge” incidents, creating a better condition for our movement to finally bring the case to a just settlement.

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