Tokyo International University
Emperor System in Japan; View from Both Side
Outline of Paper
· Introduction to Topic
· History of Emperor System in Japan
· Past and Present situation of Emperor in Japan
· Role of Emperor in Japan
· Different view regarding Emperor System in Japan.
· Arguments for support of Emperor System
· Arguments against the Emperor System ( Abolishing Emperor System)
Introduction to Topic
Abolishing Emperor System or to continue as it is, has been one of the debatable topics in Japan. Different people have different thoughts on Emperor System, which has been practiced for hundreds of years in Japan. Some people in Japan prefer Emperor System and treat emperor as the symbol of Japan whereas, some people doubt the importance of Emperor in Japan. Other than these two type of people who discuss abolishing Emperor System in Japan, some people believe in modernizing law related to Emperor System than that of abolishing whole Emperor System. In this paper, I will state and discuss the arguments of both sides.
History of Emperor System in Japan
According to the current Constitution of Japan, “Emperor” is said to be a symbol of Japan and the Japanese people.In other words, it means “Emperor = Japan’s symbol” and it can be said that it is the basis of the Emperor System to determine this as clear by constitution and law. Moreover, it is decided that it is people of the imperial family that can become an emperor. According to the old legend, it is said that the emperor’s family line has been continuing from 2600 years ago, and this can also be said as the many features of the emperor system. However, even if you say “emperor system” in a single word, the position of the Emperor has changed many times in the history of Japan. There are times when the side of rituals and military persons was strong as well as there was a time when they played the role of giving legitimacy to the regime. In the Constitution of the Japan Imperial Empire established in the Meiji Era, the Emperor was presided over by the head emperor and had powerful power, including command and governance of the military. However, after the Second World War, the Emperor changed to the character “Japan and the people of the Japanese citizen” now rather than “head of state”.
The Emperor System is considered to be one of the constitutional monarchies to the last. This is the political system that the role of the emperor (or the king) who is the head of the town is the symbol of the country to the last, and politicians and cabinets are supposed to do the actual politics according to the law. The country that adopts this constitutional monarchy is seen in countries other than Japan that is taking the Kingdom, such as the Netherlands, Spain, and Denmark. From this point of view, there is no difference between the Emperor System and the Royal System. The Japanese Imperial family is a family that continues from the mythological point of view around 660 BC at least from around the 4 th century that can be confirmed by documents. It is tough to know about the exact history of Emperor. It is because such history is erased from this archipelago. Most commoners are being unable to know it. To know such things, there is no other way than unlocking the history that is left in the historical documents that are left on the continent.
At the time of November 18, 663, Izumo at that time (which was called Yamato at that time) of this archipelago was occupied and conquered by that To Dynasty. It was Mr. Takeshi that Takeshi’s power, which oppressed this archipelago. Even then, Mr. Takeshi, the samurai keeps the people of this archipel under slavery. In addition, the To dynasty has transformed everything in this archipelago into a karate style, such as politics, law, economy, culture, history, calendar, language, etc., including rules and tax. In other words, it is a dominant form similar to Korea annexation during wartime. If Korea had been dominated as it is, the future would have been like Japan now.
Under the occupation of the To dynasty, the rank system, that is, the status system with the Emperor at the top was introduced to this archipelago. It is still being preserved while being reworked. There is the origin here in Japan, where discrimination remains deep-rooted up to now. And it is this time that the system called Emperor was introduced to this archipelago. And the forces of the Tang dynasty constitute Mr. Fujiwara in the sense that Tang (Fuji) is the source (original), put the people of this archipel under colonial rule, then dominated the archipelago for over 1,300 years It continues to do. Before World War II, it was said that nobility was a dominant force centered on the forces of this To dynasty. And the ordinary people under its control are the descendants of indigenous people who lived in this archipelago mainly until 663.
Well, Takeshi Tenhi, the roots of the Emperor, also thrills himself, giving him the “Holy God” emperor. In other words, the sacred “God” “Takeo” Liao Tian is the nature of Emperor Jinmu and the honor of its concept. In other words, the first Emperor was told that the essence of the concept “Emperor Jinmu” is that the system of the Emperor and the root of the name are in the military heavenly.
And the power of the To dynasty which dominated the archipelago in the year 663 AD tampered the history as if it had dominated the archipelago from 660 BC. And the people of the archipelago continue to be deceived with its fictitious historical recognition and reached now. It is a sad reality of our country that I believe that it is the history of this country as long as it continues to be received in 1300 years
Past and present situation of Emperor
Power of Emperor has always been fluctuating throughout the time. The history of Imperial Japan started back from 660 B.C. Akihito, the son of Emperor Hirohito who led Japan during World War 2 is the only modern monarch with the title Emperor. However, while previous emperors were considered living gods and descendants of the Shinto deity Amaterasu, since World War II the emperor’s role has been mostly ceremonial. According to the Japanese constitution drafted by the United States and adopted in 1947, the emperor is considered “the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people,” while the actual governance of the country is left to the democratically elected parliament. But while Akihito’s father was a controversial figure, given his role in World War II, his son has worked to reshape the image of the emperor during his reign. “Akihito was the first postwar emperor to embrace the pacifist constitution and his role as a symbol of national unity,” Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Sophia University in Tokyo, Tells Reuters. “He cares a great deal about war issues and reconciliation.” As mention in Smithsonian online newspaper by Danny Lewis 2016, “While Akihito’s role is ceremonial, the laws that govern the position are very strict. According to the postwar constitution, only men can serve as emperor, and they must serve until death. That has caused some conflict in the question of succession as Crown Prince Naruhito, Akihito’s 56-year-old son, has no male heirs. In recent years, these rules have been hotly debated by Japanese politicians, with those on the right wing arguing that should the emperor become incapacitated, the crown prince could just act as regent. With Aikihito indicating that he wants to step down, the political scuffle over whether to change these laws could reignite.”
Role of Emperor in Japan
Before going into the analysis, I would like to explain a bit about modern Japanese history as a preliminary consideration I mentioned earlier that I caught the beginning of modern Japanese history in 1868. In 1868, the so-called “Meiji Period” began. In the previous year of this year, that is, in 1867, the feudal system which was dominated by the Tokugawa shogunate ended the end. Following this, the Emperor completed the absence from political power over hundreds of years and restored domination of the whole country (Meiji Restoration). Until then, the Emperor lived in Kyoto, an ancient capital of Japan, where the Tokugawa shogunate was placed and hundreds of miles away from Edo (now Tokyo) where most of the important political decisions were made. The Emperor was only a cultural symbol for hundreds of years and did not play any role actively in politics.
Speaking of the Meiji Period, it was during this time that the isolation of Japan was solved and the influence of the Western-influenced Japan at once. The Meiji New Government made a hard effort to catch up with the West as soon as possible. One of these efforts was the introduction of the “constitutional monarchy.” In 1889, the Constitution of the Meiji Constitution (Constitution of the Japan Empire) was promulgated. The Meiji Constitution introduced the parliament system for the first time in the history of Japan. In 1890, the first Imperial Assembly was convened. Along with changes in the political system, there have also been many changes in social and economic fields. In 1873, a new educational system named “school system” was introduced. As a result, in theory, all citizens aged 6 and over were obliged to receive school education. Rapid industrialization became the highest priority national policy of the Meiji government, and many manufacturing industries were born with the strong support of the government. Despite the fact that the Meiji era brought many favorable changes, it was also an era when it became possible to distort the direction of modern Japan.
First of all, myths about the deity of the Emperor were created by the Meiji government who wants to establish the dominance over domestic use by using the authority of the Emperor for justifying their own policies. Article 3 of the Meiji Constitution stipulates as follows: “Emperor Hu sacred civilization to Nishite invasion” Secondly, in this age, the extreme militarism spirit with fanatical nationalism was born against the threat of foreign countries often overburdened.
Emperor’s status under the Meiji Constitution
In Article 72 of the Meiji Constitution, Article 17 is the provision concerning the position of the Emperor and the Imperial family. Among them, Article 1, 3, 4, 11 and 13 prescribe the status of the Emperor. For example, Article 1 is as follows: “The Empire of the Imperial Japanese Majesty of the World”. This means that the Emperor is the ultimate ruler of Japan and, to this extent, even the government means subordinate to the Emperor. In fact, the Meiji Constitution is supposed to have been given to Emperor Meiji as a “gift” to the people. Furthermore, Article 4 of the Meiji Constitution Act stipulates that the Emperor is the “head of state” of the country and “total control of sovereignty”. In relation to the military, Article 11 gives the Emperor the highest command of navy and army, so the emperor is regarded as the highest commander of the army (Omamamoto).
To summarize what I have said so far, the Emperor under the Meiji Constitution possessed the authority of the following three most important nations:
1) head of state
2) source of sovereignty,
3) army The highest commander
Then, how was the status of the royalty? Regarding the composition of the royal family, it was prescribed in the Imperial House Law. The Imperial House Law was issued simultaneously with the 1868 Meiji Constitution. According to the Imperial Household Scripture, the successor of the throne is said to be limited to boys. The members of the Imperial Family were divided into nine places in total. Among these ranks, the top four were the following four (and their children). 1) the empress, 2) the first man of the emperor (crown prince), 3) the empress, and 4) the royal prince and the dominant king. Also, the Emperor ‘s brothers made up another house in the Imperial family. The number of the Miya family changed according to the time. As the new Palace is established along with the independence of the court royal family, there are also some Miya houses that are disappointingly inseparable. As of August 1945, there were 14 Miya houses in total. In the economy and social life, members of the Imperial family enjoyed numerous privileges. For example, huge income from owned land, securities, bonds, houses etc was tax-free. In fact, the Imperial family was the largest landowner before the war.
Status in the New Constitution
The new Constitution (Constitution of Japan) was issued on November 3, 1946. There are also 8 articles concerning the position of the Emperor and the Imperial Household in the entire article covering 103 articles. Among them, Article 1, 3 and 4 are the provisions concerning the position of the Emperor. First of all, Article 1 declares as follows: “The Emperor is a symbol of Japan and a symbol of the Japanese people’s consolidation, and this position is based on the conscience of the Japanese people with sovereignty.” In contrast to the Meiji Constitution regarding this provision, there are two points. First of all, under the new Constitution, the Emperor is said to be a “symbol” of the integration of the state and the people instead of “rulers” or “heads of state”. Secondly, “sovereignty” is the point that it exists not in the Emperor but in the people. Although the meaning of the word “symbol” is unclear, it is clear that the people decide the course of the country is the people themselves. Article 3 prescribes the authority on the emperor’s acts of state and affairs. According to this provision, all the acts carried out by the Emperor are said to require advice and approval from the Cabinet. In other words, the Emperor will not be able to do any national act without the approval of the Cabinet. This point is further confirmed in Article 4 as follows: “The Emperor conducts only acts related to the national affairs prescribed by this Constitution and does not have the authority on national affairs.” It is clear from the various regulations mentioned above that under the new Constitution the Emperor is blocked from actual power and its role is strictly restricted to “symbol”. Regarding the status of the Imperial Family, the New Imperial House Law was enacted in 1947. As of August 1945, Miya who existed 14 was reduced to 3 Miya houses. In addition, the vast land owned by the Imperial Household was nationalized.
Different views on Emperor System.
Within Japanese population, there are people who believe in Emperor System and want to continue it. However, there are still another group of people who believe there no need of Emperor System in Japan and abolishing the Emperor System would be a better idea for the future of Japan. There are several strong points on the both side to argue. Further, in this paper, I will explain those strong points in detail.
Points for the abolishing Emperor
1 Violation of Human rights
2 Waste of huge amount of money to look after Emperor and his family
3 Public survey ( I personally ask few Japanese people about their idea on this topic)
Violation of Human Rights
Before saying my perception on about violation of human right, I would like to create a situation and think about it. Imagine a situation in which student A has been choosing as a student leader of class X. Only that student who has been choosing as a class leader have the power to contact the professor, get all information of class schedule and forward it to other students. However, to maintain this position, the chooses student will not get any credit for that course. In this case, will anyone will be happy to be chosen as a student leader? I think this is the same situation for the Emperor of Japan. Even they are in highly reputed position and are being worshipped as a god, the Imperial family does not get Japanese citizenship and Japanese passport and they do not even have a family name. this seems to suggest that the imperial family is being held hostages by their position. In this situation abolishing the emperor, system would more than likely be doing a favor to these hostages who seemed to have been deprived of basic human rights.
Waste of huge amount of money to look after Emperor and his family
IHA (Imperial Household Agency) is responsible for taking care of the Imperial family. All expenses of Imperial Household agency are from countries budget. The budget includes personal expenses, palace related expenses and allowance for the imperial family member. If we take a look at Japan’s country budget official year 2017 then the total amount of money to look after Emperor and family is 6.219 billion yen. (IHA website) Such huge amount is divided as follow
Personal Expenses 324 million yen
Allowance 215 million yen
Place related expenses 5.68 billion yen
Total 6.219 billion yen
If we compare this amount with the budget of another small country, it will be the budget for the whole nation. Even, if we compare this amount with the current prime minister of Japan then it is 332 times higher than that of the salary of the current prime minister of Japan. So people believe abolishing emperor system in Japan will save both human rights and money.
For my paper, I searched several websites to see what people of Japan really prefer on this topic. As of Japanese online news site (Japan times), more than 80% of Japanese people prefer Emperor System in Japan. However, when I asked the same question about abolishing Emperor from Japan to 20 Japanese people I get a completely different answer. out of 20 people, only 5 people agree to abolish Emperor System from Japan but that does not mean rest of 15 do not want to abolish Emperor system in Japan. Among those 15 only 3 of them want to abolish Emperor System in Japan and rest of 12 people did not have any idea about the topic. They do have any interest in the emperor and his family. most of the people who did not have any idea were young generation. This makes me think about why to put so much effort, time and money on someone about which young generation do not care about.
Points against abolishing Emperor System
Throughout most of Japanese history, the emperor has had no real power of his own. However, his symbolic position has put him (or her) in a place of much importance. Ever since the end of the Heian era, the most powerful political figure in terms of hard power has been the shogun. There is only one way to become a new shogun dynasty, and that is being appointed by the emperor. Even if you conquer the entire country militarily, you would never be the shogun, and therefore technically not in charge of the country unless appointed by the emperor. Think of Oda Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, who basically ruled Japan near the end of their lives, but never started a new shogunate. It took until Ieyasu for that to happen. In the Meiji Restoration, the revolutionists wanted to “put the emperor back in power”, but the irony is that even when the emperor did technically run the show in the Heian era (you have to go back hundreds and hundreds of years for this), he didn’t actually run the show than either. So what this means is that for most of Japanese history the emperor has been little more than a figurehead. But as I alluded to before, he was extremely important because he was the source of legitimacy for succeeding governments. Of course, the emperor rarely decided himself who to put into power, but once he did, that person was the legitimate leader de jure of the country, and everyone was under obligation to pay homage to that person or group. Although it was possible to militarily defeat the current Shogun and therefore force the employer to appoint you as the new one, looking at how rarely this actually happened gives a clue as to how valuable the title of shogun really was. The source of legitimacy came from the emperor, and this was unquestionable. Where does the emperor obtain his legitimacy? Basically, he just is legitimate by virtue of being the emperor. That is precisely why the Meiji reformers used the emperor as a pawn to give them legitimacy towards overthrowing the then current regime. It’s hard to argue with the emperor.
In the Imperial Constitution, the Navy and the Army were directly responsible to the emperor and not to parliament or anyone else. Since the emperor was essentially just a figurehead, that means that unless you had powerful people behind the scenes pulling the strings of the emperor the military was accountable to no one. Hence the trouble leading up to and including WW2. Nowadays, the emperor obtains his position “from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power” according to the current constitution, but let’s not be naive. The emperor has almost always been and continues to be a pawn in the power structure.
As in the past, the emperor continues to this day to be “above” everyone else. It continues to be unquestionable, and a huge source of nationalism. If the wrong people came to power, you can bet that the single most powerful tool at their disposal would be the emperor to change the existing power regime as has been done many times in the past.
it is rather difficult for outsiders to give an accurate evaluation of the situation surrounding the Japanese Imperial family. I shall try … It is worth noting that the situational context has been undergoing drastic changes. Thus, a rigid control, strange institutional taboos, and lack of openness make the current generation of Japanese question whether or not Japan needs its Imperial family.
The media outlets are prohibited to openly debate the past of the Imperial family, its current role, or the future. Basic questions such as “How much does the Royal family cost?”, or “How exactly does Japan benefit from having the Imperial family?” are inappropriate for hard-core traditionalists as well as increase skepticism of the others. Taking a closer look, one may notice that human rights of the Japanese Imperial family are somewhat violated (i.e., they have got neither name nor passports; they have little or no say in how funds allocated to them are distributed and spent). I dare to presume that courtiers may take advantage of this unhealthy situation.
As for benefits, the Imperial family brings to Japan, some point out Emperor’s important diplomatic role as an ambassador, whereas others view Emperor as “spiritual core” that brings the nation together in times of crisis. Indeed, historically the Imperial family was a model for commoners to copy. However, the marital patterns and lifestyle have changed a lot. Needless to say, a fair number of marriages tends to occur late; divorces are not frowned upon; women opt for having fewer children and continue to work after marriage. This prompts men to participate in child-rearing and housework. Under such circumstances, the Imperial family tends to look like a symbol of traditions, stability, and continuity that is devoid of content and almost artificially maintained. Namely, this artificiality prompts people to question the existence of the royals. Ivan Hall described Japan’s monarchy as the “ultimate linchpin of the myth of Japanese uniqueness and the lodestar for the most repressive ideas of racial superiority.” It may be presumed that the current generation of Japanese does not feel overly unique and racially superior to other nations. They realize there are commonalities between Japanese and gaijins as well as differences.
It is worth noting that the IHA is aware of lack of openness. However, it fears possible negative consequences attached to embracing the openness and high price paid by other royal houses (e.g., the British royals) for doing so. At the same time, the IHA goes too far protecting the mystery. Rehearsed press conferences with pre-approved questions from approved journalists make the institution look more out-of-date.
Having said that, I think that Crown Prince Naruhito has a full comprehension of the awkward situation surrounding the Imperial family. He may attempt to phase much-needed reforms in. Thus, I would give him a chance of becoming the people’s Emperor, who will continue the 2,000-year-old institution.