井の中の蛙

7/9/2005

Akihito as the Sovereign of Japan?

Filed under: — tak @ 10:19 pm

Asahi Shinbun reports that the LDP has accepted plans to push for changing the name “Self-Defense Force”(「自衛隊」) to “Self-Defense Military” (「自衛軍」). This is a bit alarming and I am sure that, if not already, there will be harsh criticism from Japan’s neighbors in the coming days.

But what made me shiver in reading this news was not so much Japan inching toward militarization, which had already been happening for a while now, but rather an effort by the LDP to (re)instate the emperor as the “sovereign” of the Japanese state. According to this Asahi article in Japanese, the commision almost approved a proposal to transform him into a mere symbolic figure to someone who would actually represent Japan in diplomatic settings.

自民党新憲法起草委員会(委員長・森前首相)は7日、改憲の「要綱案」を発表した。9条2項を改正し、自衛のための武力組織を「自衛軍」と名付け、軍隊であることを明確に位置づけた。また、象徴天皇制を維持することとし、天皇を「元首」とすることを見送った。委員会は今後、要綱案をもとに結党50年の今年11月に発表する党新憲法草案の条文化作業に入る。

When I read this, I could not believe my eyes. Is this really happening? What year is this?????

要綱案の内容は、たとえば天皇について、前文に「日本国民は国民統合の象徴たる天皇と共に歴史を刻んできた」との表現を加えて「自民党らしさ」を盛り込む一方、党内の一部に根強い支持があった「元首化」を断念するなど、今後の憲法改正作業を現実的に進めることを念頭に、公明党や野党の主張に配慮をみせたものとなっている。

The word that I translated as “sovereign” here is genshu (元首). (Wikipedia translates it as either “head of state” or “sovereign”). It is a word that comes from the pre-war constitution, The Great Japanese Imperial Constitution, which was promulgated in 1889 and revised during the Allied occupation (1945-51). [The image shows the first page of the original constitution, taken from here.]

In the old pre-war constitution, the fourth article stipulates that the emperor is the genshu of Japan. This comes right after an article that declares the emperor to be divine.

So it has really come to this? Can someone wake me up from this nightmare? Are they soon going to start hailing Akihito as, indeed, a god?

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