Even for Japanese people, there are many mysteries about the Emperor of Japan.
It is said that Emperor was a descendant of Himiko from Yamataikoku or the imperial family was established in the fourth century. After Taika Reform in 645, the Emperor became known as” Tennou” for its official name. Following the Meiji Restoration, the Meiji government made a constitution to govern the country centred on the Emperor. The Emperor was carried as a god in that, and he was a symbol of the unity of the people of Japan.
Even after World War II, the emperor system continued and is still a hot topic at home and abroad as a symbol of Japan.
The other day, we talked about the ceremony of the coronation and the new Emperor’s throne.
A 「There’s lots of news about the Emperor of Japan, especially in 2019. On the day before Enthronement Ceremony, the new name of the era, Reiwa, has been released and became one of the buzzwords of 2019 in a short time. This made all around japan warm up, right? 」
B「Yes, especially, lots of foreign media visited Japan to participate in the ceremony and made various reviews about this, and it has been a hot potato for a while.
The news was divided into two main opinions, which is saying “It was such a huge ceremony only japan can make” and “It was such a huge ceremony remembering Japanese militarism by saying ‘Long live the emperor(天皇陛下万歳, Tennouheikabanzai)’ so that made people to recall the bad scenery of World war 2.”
In 2018, there’s a big argument over holding a birthday ceremony of Emperor of Japan in Seoul, Korea. Due to Korea had been colonized from 1910 to 1945 by Japan and of course by Emperor of japan, numerous people demonstrated in opposition to Emperor of japan, visiting Korea.」
A「Why did that kind of demonstration happen?」
B「The countries where experienced the history of colony by japan seems to have fears still because the existence of the Emperor of japan itself makes them be afraid by imagining the horrible memories of history.
Also, there are still lots of people who are worrying about the fact that Emperor of japan can be used for propaganda in the case when japan begin a new world war just like in the same way how japan used for in world war 2. 」
A「Oh, you mean the people who are from the country where had been colonized just imagine ‘the emperor’ and ‘the militarism ‘as the same thing. Well, there are still some people who are considering that the existence of Emperor of japan is being used for stirring up the new nationalism in 21 centuries around japan.
But the thing is, Japanese actually do not really think of the Emperor as that powerful or even fearful one. 」
B「I think the reason why the people who are from Japanese colony before still have that kind of fears is that they have no chance to know what Japanese people genuinely think and consider about their Emperor nowadays.
In fact, occupying the majority in japan is who are considering that past is past so the Emperor is not that powerful or fearful at all in these days.」
A「By the way, do you know how much money spent in the change of Japanese era’s name ceremony last April? It was 1.6 Hundred million dollars. 」
B「Really? I think that’s too much. That money may be used for welfare in Japan. It’s overuse in just two days ceremony.」
A「And Imperial Household Agency(宮内庁) uses about 2.4 Hundred million dollar in a year. 」
C「I think only a few Japanese knows this fact. It’s overuse like you said, but on the other hand, it must be very hard for the imperial family to make a living by themselves. 」
C「For example, can you imagine that the imperial family become familiar to society?」
B「Umm…. I hardly imagine that situation. Because they are celebrities in nature. It’s hard to become familiar suddenly. 」
B「 And also, there are problems about human rights. He is the only one whose fundamental rights are restricted in those who have Japanese nationality.
He cannot even vote. Isn’t it a problem that his human rights are not recognized only because he was born in a certain family?」
C「Right. It can be said that this is against equality under the law.」
B「Also, actually, members of the imperial family hardly have a right to privacy. It seems so stressful that they always have to act as a role model of Japanese, and that only a small topic could be featured too much by the media.」
A「But conversely, it can be said that everyone takes notice of them.」
The current emperor system can differ from modern people’s ideal one. For example, imperial families do not have rights to vote despite having Japanese nationality. One of the reasons is the existence of the Japanese Emperor was defined by the constitution made over 70 years ago by GHQ(General Headquarters, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers).
It may be difficult for students like us to change the current system. However, now, starting of the new generation, Reiwa, could be a great chance to make an important process by rethinking the Emperor system in Japan.
Written by Dagyeom Kim, Gou Murasawa, Kanji Tsuchiya, Riku Shimada and Yusuke Itokuri
Edited by Dagyeom Kim