søndag 28. april 2019

Akihito will be remembered as an emperor of the people

When Emperor Hirohito passed away 30 years ago, the only thing known for certain about the late monarch’s views was that he treasured his memories of a visit to Disneyland. This was known for sure because of a photograph of Hirohito taking part in a rice-planting ceremony which showed him wearing a Mickey Mouse watch. On all other matters, the monarch’s views were received indirectly, through the statements of those who claimed to have spoken with him.

As a result, Emperor Hirohito’s opinions on the crucial issues and events of his 68 years on the throne during war and peace have remained largely a mystery. This changed with the ascendance of Emperor Akihito. To be sure, Akihito adhered strictly to his constitutionally mandated role as ‘a symbol of the state and the unity of the people’, and therefore refrained from making statements on matters of policy. Yet through his actions, choice of words and phrases, places he visited and even his body language, Akihito made it clear that he was a people’s monarch and a strong supporter of Japan’s post-war constitution.