Tomoko Tamura Becomes 1st Female Chairperson of Japanese Communist Party (Update 1)

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Tomoko Tamura

The Japanese Communist Party decided at its party convention on Thursday to appoint Tomoko Tamura, chairperson of the party’s Policy Commission, as the chair of the party to succeed Kazuo Shii.

Tamura, 58, a member of the House of Councillors, was set to become the first female leader of the JCP, and the party’s first new leader in 23 years.

According to the decision, Shii, 69, was to take over the post of chair of the JCP Central Committee, which has been vacant since Tetsuzo Fuwa stepped down in 2006.

Shii was elected head of the JCP secretariat in 1990 at the age of 35 and succeeded Fuwa as chairman in November 2000. He launched the concept of a national coalition government and has promoted the joint fielding of candidates with other opposition parties since the 2016 upper house election.

He revised the JCP platform, which outlines the party’s philosophy and goals, to accept the Self-Defense Forces and the Imperial system for the time being. However, it continued to lose seats in national elections and was unable to break out of its long-term slump.

In February, the party expelled a party member who wrote a book calling for the introduction of public elections for party leaders, leading Shii’s management to be criticized as closed-minded.

Tamura was elected at the last party convention in 2020 as the JCP’s first female chairperson of the Policy Commission. Her appointment as the new chairperson is apparently intended to renew the party’s image with a generational change.