CIVIL

Emperor Akihito of Japan reported his abdication to sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami in a palace ceremony, at Tokyo

Japan Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

The government of Japan has officially approved the abdication ceremony of Emperor Akihito. This provides the legal basis to allow him to step down from the throne after a one-off law was passed to allow him to retire.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga headed the panel which decided to also have a ceremony at the National Theater in Tokyo that celebrates 30 years of His Imperial Majesty’s reign on 24 February 2019, reported the Japan Times.

Emperor Akihito began his abdication rituals at a Shinto shrine Tuesday morning as Japan embraces the end of his reign with reminiscence and hope for a new era. Akihito, 85, took the throne in 1989 and devoted his career to making amends for a war fought in his father’s name while bringing the aloof monarchy closer to the people.

In a palace ceremony later in the day, Akihito will announce his retirement before other members of the royal family and top government officials.

Akihito, together with Empress Michiko, his wife of 60 years and the first commoner to marry an imperial heir, carved out an active role as a symbol of reconciliation, peace and democracy. His father, Hirohito, in whose name Japanese troops fought World War Two, was considered a living deity until after Japan’s defeat in 1945, when he renounced his divinity.

His reign runs through midnight when his son Crown Prince Naruhito becomes new emperor and his era begins.

Naruhito will ascend the Chrysanthemum throne Wednesday. In a separate ceremony, he will inherit the Imperial regalia of sword and jewel, as well as Imperial seals as proof of his succession as the nation’s 126th emperor in the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy from the 5th century.

Akihito reported his abdication in a ritual held in a sanctuary inside the palace grounds honoring the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami, from whom mythology says the imperial line is descended. He was to do the same at two other sanctuaries honoring departed emperors and Shinto gods.

After his retirement,  Akihito will hold a new title, emperor emeritus, but he will be fully taken out off official duties and will no longer sign documents, receive foreign dignitaries, attend government events or perform palace rituals.

His son crown prince Naruhito, 59, will become emperor in separate ceremonies on Wednesday. Naruhito, who studied at Oxford, is likely to continue an active role and together with Harvard-educated Masako give the monarchy a cosmopolitan tinge.

Constitutional Power of the Emperor

Article 1. The Emperor shall be the symbol of the State and of the unity of the People, deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power.
Article 2. The Imperial Throne shall be dynastic and succeeded to in accordance with the Imperial House Law passed by the Diet.

Article 3. The advice and approval of the Cabinet shall be required for all acts of the Emperor in matters of state, and the Cabinet shall be responsible therefor.

Article 4. The Emperor shall perform only such acts in matters of state as are provided for in this Constitution and he shall not have powers related to government.
The Emperor may delegate the performance of his acts in matters of state as may be provided by law.

Article 5. When, in accordance with the Imperial House Law, a Regency is established, the Regent shall perform his acts in matters of state in the Emperor’s name. In this case, paragraph one of the preceding article will be applicable.

Article 6. The Emperor shall appoint the Prime Minister as designated by the Diet.
The Emperor shall appoint the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court as designated by the Cabinet.

Article 7. The Emperor, with the advice and approval of the Cabinet, shall perform the following acts in matters of state on behalf of the people:

Promulgation of amendments of the constitution, laws, cabinet orders and treaties.
Convocation of the Diet.
Dissolution of the House of Representatives.
Proclamation of general election of members of the Diet.
Attestation of the appointment and dismissal of Ministers of State and other officials as provided for by law, and of full powers and credentials of Ambassadors and Ministers.
Attestation of general and special amnesty, commutation of punishment, reprieve, and restoration of rights.
Awarding of honors.
Attestation of instruments of ratification and other diplomatic documents as provided for by law.
Receiving foreign ambassadors and ministers.
Performance of ceremonial functions.

Article 8. No property can be given to, or received by, the Imperial House, nor can any gifts be made therefrom, without the authorization of the Diet.

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