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Post Reply Emperor Akihito Seeking Abdication
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Posted 8/9/16 , edited 8/9/16
A major development has occurred in Japanese politics, with Emperor Akihito (reigning since 1989) delivering a public address in which he indirectly appealed to the Japanese people to be allowed to abdicate. Outwardly the emperor's request is about his health and ability to fulfill his role as the Japanese head of state, with Akihitio stating concerns that should the matter be delayed until he dies Japan will become temporarily politically unstable and stressing his preference to smoothly transition the throne to crown prince Naruhito to avoid such consequences.




Emperor Akihito states explicitly that he is, as emperor, not to issue commentary on the current system, but there are definitely a lot of political issues compacted into this relatively brief address. I will attempt to unpack some of them for you based upon what I've read for a starting point, with the purpose of this thread to be discussion of either these matters or the general matter of whether the emperor ought to be allowed to abdicate.

The first thing to understand is that the emperor technically cannot abdicate his throne or grant himself that power. The position of Emperor of Japan holds no official political powers and is limited to a relatively small range of duties (most of them diplomatic and religious) under the current Japanese constitution, and there is no presently existing mechanism by which a Japanese emperor may abdicate. Indeed, the last time an emperor abdicated the throne was nearly 200 years ago. However, it must also be kept in mind that the general public of Japan very strongly supports the idea that emperors ought to be allowed to abdicate (85% supported allowing abdication in a recent survey). Opponents to the emperor's abdication are primarily conservative nationalists, with the Liberal Democratic Party of prime minister Shinzo Abe serving as this point of view's strongest voice.

This matter, however, extends far beyond merely the emperor's ability to leave his post due to old age and/or sickness. Emperor Akihito's appeal may only be fully understood by putting it into its broader political context. There is a very strong conflict between the views of Emperor Akihito and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe on the Japanese constitution, the role of Japan in the world, and the nature of Japanese history. The emperor is strongly committed to a relatively peaceful Japanese foreign policy and maintaining armed forces principally for self-defence, supports the constitution that was ratified after the nation's defeat in second world war, bears no reverence for Japanese imperial soldiers and officials convicted of war crimes such as Hideki Tojo and has refused to visit the controversial Yasukani Shrine at which they are memorialised, and believes that females should be allowed to accede to the throne. Shinzo Abe, by contrast, favours a far more militaristic Japan whose military excursions are not limited solely to self-defence and major Japanese military buildup, considers the postwar constitution a humiliating breach of Japanese national sovereignty, has visited the Yasukani Shrine and consistently, vocally either outright denied or attempted to downplay war crimes committed by Japan's military and officials, opposes the idea that females should be granted accession, and as a bonus contributed to significant rollbacks in Japanese freedom of the press. Present indications are that Naruhito, the crown prince to succeed Akihito, sees things his father's way.

Edit:

As for my own opinion on the matter, I am not particularly fond of the Abe government and agree with the emperor's perspective on all of the above matters. I believe that Emperor Akihito has raised valid concerns and made a perfectly reasonable request. Naruhito should be allowed to accede if this is Akihito's wish.

Sources

Survey results are cited here:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37007106

Complete transcript of Emperor Akihito's address:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37008210

Contextual insights into Japanese political situation relevant to Emperor's address:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/08/the-emperor-strikes-back-japan-s-monarch-takes-on-imperialist-abe.html

World Press Freedom Index Ranking (Japan) and Related Articles:
https://rsf.org/en/japan
https://rsf.org/en/news/prime-minister-shinzo-abe-urged-abandon-state-secrecy-bill

Notice: This thread provides an update on a subject initially discussed in an earlier thread, and is posted separately primarily due to the age of the preexisting thread.

http://www.crunchyroll.com/forumtopic-959519/japanese-emperor-akihito-considering-abdication
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Posted 8/9/16 , edited 8/9/16
That where I step in and take over as Marcus Octavius! Hail to Roman Empire! :p

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Posted 8/9/16
Personally I've always seen things Shinzo Abe's way. Any country regardless of it's past should be a sovereign nation and that includes some level of projecting military might. I mean for fucks sake we let the Yanks have an army and they have the distinction of being the only country to use Nuclear Arms in warfare. And developing even more imaginative nuclear weapons. Not to mention a long history of genocidal warfare on the local native population, the enslavement of African people , racial and bigoted politics, and so forth.

As for the Emperor wanting to abdicate I tend to think the man should suck it up. He has a rather easy job to do and if the crown prince shares his views on politics what purpose would be served?
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Posted 8/9/16
I would see why Japan would want to build up its force. They control the world's largest supply of Sakuradite, and the head of Britannia's Royal Family, Charles, has imperialistic ambitions.
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Posted 8/9/16
So what I'm getting from this is that basically Akihito attempting to abdicate is part of a larger ongoing ideological divide between the imperial family and the current ruling Liberal Democrat party under Shinzo Abe. My question then is how does Akihito's abdication and the accension of his son change the current status quo when they already aren't allowed to officially comment on matters of state? I'm not too well-versed in the official rules or unwritten conventions that govern how the imperial family interacts with the state.
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Posted 8/9/16 , edited 8/9/16

JanusCascade wrote:

Than where I step in and take over as Marcus Octavius! Hail to Roman Empire! :p


As cool as the the idea may sound, let's leave time-traveling legionaries invading Japan and establishing a Greco-Roman society in East Asia aside for the moment.

Do you believe that emperors in Japan ought to be allowed to step down and grant accession to their heirs while still alive? Do you approve of Shinzo Abe's political views more strongly, or the emperor's? Have I missed something?
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Posted 8/9/16

walker1455 wrote:

So what I'm getting from this is that basically Akihito attempting to abdicate is part of a larger ongoing ideological divide between the imperial family and the current ruling Liberal Democrat party under Shinzo Abe. My question then is how does Akihito's abdication and the accension of his son change the current status quo when they already aren't allowed to officially comment on matters of state? I'm not too well-versed in the official rules or unwritten conventions that govern how the imperial family interacts with the state.


Influence mate influence. Like any other royal family their viewpoints are shared by many citizens and even a silent opinion is still an opinion.
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Posted 8/9/16 , edited 8/9/16

walker1455 wrote:

So what I'm getting from this is that basically Akihito attempting to abdicate is part of a larger ongoing ideological divide between the imperial family and the current ruling Liberal Democrat party under Shinzo Abe. My question then is how does Akihito's abdication and the accension of his son change the current status quo when they already aren't allowed to officially comment on matters of state? I'm not too well-versed in the official rules or unwritten conventions that govern how the imperial family interacts with the state.


It is noteworthy that although the position of emperor bears no official political powers and the emperor is prevented from issuing political statements whoever holds that position is endowed with an extraordinarily visible, highly venerated platform in Japan. Emperors can't directly say things ought to be this way or that, but they can (as Akihito has here) strongly imply that things ought to be. As a result Naruhito would be, upon accumulating the necessary political capital and public presence, a significant political figure even in the absence of any official political powers.

For what I can make of it so far the main concern seems to be making a smooth transition between Akihito and Naruhito's reign without political turmoil that the Abe government or one like it could exploit.
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Posted 8/9/16
I could have sworn I saw this topic being discussed just recently... deja vu maybe?
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Posted 8/9/16

1stladyent wrote:

I could have sworn I saw this topic being discussed just recently... deja vu maybe?


About one month ago a thread on this topic was posted, and I link to it in this one's OP. This thread is an update on the subject since the address alluded to in the earlier story has now finally been delivered.
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Posted 8/9/16

BlueOni wrote:


JanusCascade wrote:

Than where I step in and take over as Marcus Octavius! Hail to Roman Empire! :p


As cool as the the idea may sound, let's leave time-traveling legionaries invading Japan and establishing a Greco-Roman society in East Asia aside for the moment.

Do you believe that emperors in Japan ought to be allowed to step down and grant accession to their heirs while still alive? Do you approve of Shinzo Abe's political views more strongly, or the emperor's? Have I missed something?



I don't know much about the Emperor or Shinzo Abe.. I read your post, Since Emperor is speaking life experience is imparting his wisdom on this matter on what he should do. I think it should be up to the Emperor on what he think is best.. -scratches head-

I cannot say anymore from there since I didn't follow the politics news on about Japan.. >.<
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Posted 8/9/16

BlueOni wrote:

For what I can make of it so far the main concern seems to be making a smooth transition between Akihito and Naruhito's reign without political turmoil that the Abe government or one like it could exploit.


It's going to happen sooner or later maybe it's best that Naruhito ascend the throne while Akihito is still around to show him the ropes. After all the nationalistic movement in Japan isn't going away anytime soon.
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Posted 8/9/16 , edited 8/9/16
Honestly Shinzo is just a stubborn jackass with an archaic set of views. Japan is lucky it wasn't eradicated following WW2 with the stupidity of imperialism at it's forefront. Why would anyone want to move back in that direction.

I find it ridiculous that the Emperor cannot give up his own throne to the one who is set to take over the throne upon his death. It is just doing the same thing that will eventually happen anyways, just sooner.
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Posted 8/9/16

Ranwolf wrote:

Influence mate influence. Like any other royal family their viewpoints are shared by many citizens and even a silent opinion is still an opinion.


Fair enough, I do seem to recall hearing that a large portion of Japanese voters are either opposed to or skeptical about amending article 9, so I can see how the Emperor's opinion would be able to leverage this influence.


BlueOni wrote:

It is noteworthy that although the position of emperor bears no official political powers and the emperor is prevented from issuing political statements whoever holds that position is endowed with an extraordinarily visible, highly venerated platform in Japan. Emperors can't directly say things ought to be this way or that, but they can (as Akihito has here) strongly imply that things ought to be. As a result Naruhito would be, upon accumulating the necessary political capital and public presence, a significant political figure even in the absence of any official political powers.

For what I can make of it so far the main concern seems to be making a smooth transition between Akihito and Naruhito's reign without political turmoil that the Abe government or one like it could exploit.


That also seems fair enough. I sometimes make the mistake of thinking that the Japanese view their constitutional monarch the same way we in the commonwealth view the Windsors. A respected figure with a deep historical connection to the nation but lacking in any major influence. Whereas the Japanese have a culture of actually venerating their monarch, so their word carries a little more weight with the common people than Elizabeth's does.
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Posted 8/9/16 , edited 8/9/16

Ranwolf wrote:

Personally I've always seen things Shinzo Abe's way. Any country regardless of it's past should be a sovereign nation and that includes some level of projecting military might. I mean for fucks sake we let the Yanks have an army and they have the distinction of being the only country to use Nuclear Arms in warfare. And developing even more imaginative nuclear weapons. Not to mention a long history of genocidal warfare on the local native population, the enslavement of African people , racial and bigoted politics, and so forth.


Perhaps, and there may be an argument to be made that Japanese military buildup may be necessary even if one favours maintaining the purpose of the armed forces as solely for defence given recent Chinese ambitions to increase their territorial claims. Still, Abe takes things to the next level. He has a long history of denying or downplaying Japanese war crimes that Akihito acknowledges and regrets, and bear in mind that Akihito is the son of Hirohito (yes, that Hirohito). What Abe says about things like "comfort women" and the Nanking massacre borders on being equivalent to Holocaust denial.


As for the Emperor wanting to abdicate I tend to think the man should suck it up. He has a rather easy job to do and if the crown prince shares his views on politics what purpose would be served?


Smoothing the transition between their reigns.


Ranwolf wrote:

It's going to happen sooner or later maybe it's best that Naruhito ascend the throne while Akihito is still around to show him the ropes. After all the nationalistic movement in Japan isn't going away anytime soon.


I agree on both counts.


walker1455 wrote:

That also seems fair enough. I sometimes make the mistake of thinking that the Japanese view their constitutional monarch the same way we in the commonwealth view the Windsors. A respected figure with a deep historical connection to the nation but lacking in any major influence. Whereas the Japanese have a culture of actually venerating their monarch, so their word carries a little more weight with the common people than Elizabeth's does.


Right, exactly. There's even precedent for venerating the Japanese emperor as a sort of god, though that was stamped on quite hard upon the nation's defeat in the second world war. Its embers remain, though.
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