Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2018

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies (MAPS)


College of Arts and Sciences


Asia Pacific Studies

First Advisor

Dr. John Nelson


With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and China’s restoration of capitalism, it is easy to dismiss the relevancy of socialism today. Yet, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) has enjoyed success at the polls and recognition as a serious opponent of the government of Abe Shinzō. The JCP however is not making a push for power. Instead, it supports liberal opposition parties, most recently throwing its weight behind the new Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) in the October 2017 general election. A future CDP government in Japan could include the JCP as a coalition partner. Does this mean the JCP represents a threat to capitalism in Japan and Asia more broadly? The answer is no. This paper examines the foundations of the JCP in the wake of the Russian Revolution in 1917, its evolution along Stalinist lines, and why it supports capitalist parties today. Early Japanese communists had failed to make a proper assessment of the international program initially expounded by the Russian Bolsheviks in 1917. This made it easier for the JCP to fall under nationalist and Stalinist influences in the 1920s. Despite the growing role of the JCP in modern politics, much of the existing research on the party comes from conservative, Cold War-era historians who viewed the JCP through the lens of anti-communism, accepting it as a genuinely revolutionary party. This paper argues rather that the party’s modern, and in fact pro-capitalist, positions can be traced back to this degeneration under Stalinism.