Announced he would abdicate due to aging
Last year, the 83-year-old emperor said his age and health would make it difficult to fulfill his duties. A lot of Japanese people who really respect and love him were shocked to hear that, but on the other hand, we understood his thought and appreciated his long-term contribution to peace of Japan.
The Symbol of the State and of the unity of the People
According to the Japanese Constitution, the role of the Emperor is as “the symbol of the State and of the unity of the People” after the Second World War. The current Emperor, Akihito, is 125th in his line, dating back to the first Emperor Jimmu. Succession is currently limited to male members of the Imperial Family.
Just as with the British monarchy, the Japanese emperor is not a political power. The emperor does not have any governmental function and only performs ceremonial constitutional function, including appointing the Prime Minister, issuing laws and treaties, awarding honors and receiving ambassadors. All of these are performed with the advice and approval of the Cabinet.
The Imperial Family issue
Japanese law states the emperor must be male. This regulation is regarded as controversial by many, particularly now that the current crown prince’s family has only one daughter. People claim that there have been many example of empresses in ancient history. In some respects, the emperor’s family is a living national treasure, representing nearly two thousand years of ritual and traditional based on Shinto, native religion of Japan.Due to that, some aspects of the Japanese imperial system are thought to be antiquated and inflexible.
Japanese people respect emperor
The current Emperor Akihito lives in the Imperial Palace in the center of Tokyo. The Imperial Family of Japan has seven family units. One of these is the Emperor’s Family, which includes the Emperor, Empress, Crown Prince, Crown Princess, and their daughter.
Many Japanese show respect to the emperor and his family. For them emperor is something necessary but not related to one’s daily activities.
The government decided the date of abdication
For the last year, Japanese government have been considering the way and the timing of abdication, which is the first time in more than two centuries. And yesterday, the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the abdication date shortly after a government and royal panel meeting to discuss the timing.
Japan’s ageing Emperor Akihito will step down in April 2019, marking the end of an imperial era “Heisei” for Japan. He would be immediately succeeded by his son Crown Prince Naruhito on 1 May, which would start a new imperial era.
Names of Imperial Eras
In modern Japan, there are two methods for noting the year, Imperial era name and the Western calendar. Official documents use the imperial-era method. This method was based on the Chinese system of naming based on the years of an Emperor’s reign, but Japan has sine developed its own somewhat different system. In the past, the Japanese system changed the era with a change of Emperor or upon inauspicious events such as natural disasters, but since the Meiji Period, imperial era names change only when there is an new Emperor.
- Meiji : 1868-1912
- Taisho : 1912-1926
- Showw : 1926-1989
- Heisei : 1989 –