Emperor Naruhito enthroned yesterday. It was the beginning of the new era in Japan. Emperor emeritus Akihito has faithfully as well as eagerly played the role of Emperor symbolizing the people defined by the Constitution. His efforts should be acknowledged by all of us. Standing on the position of pacifist, together with Empress emeritus, he has devoted himself to get Imperial Household closer to the people. We could not forget they had been everywhere suffering disasters in Japan and had talked to the people refuged at the same eye levels as theirs. They have visited a lot of places, especially Okinawa, to commemorate those victimized in the WWII, but never to the Shinto shrine of Yasukuni, where the dead soldiers had been deified during and after the WWII.
It has been sometimes reported that the Abe administration has occasionally interefered to the Imperial Household. Emperor emeritus used to express his desire to abdicate a few years earlier. The government has ignored and has not discussed about that at all. Emperor emeritus, being conscious that he has become too old to continue the role of symbolic emperor, thought to retire sooner. In the end, his desire for abdication has been scooped by a media. He has announced what he thought on abdication on TV to the people a couple of years ago. It was when the scheme to the abdication had finally started.
The government has utilized the process of abidication for their political purposes. The new era name determination has been politically used by the government. PM Abe insisted it was him who had determined it. At the publication of the era name or even at the abdication ceremony held at the imperial palace yesterday, he behaved as if the main person in charge. He has made propaganda for "the achievements of their policy", which have been seriously questioned by economists or the other critics. The administration is believed to censor what Emperor emeritus would express at the ceremony. Insisting our imperial system is historically different from those in europe, they have not allowed him to compare it with the latter. That was based on the ultra right idea of eliticism the present government has had.
I am afraid the new Emperor Naruhito may confront to the tense relationship with the government. He has, however, declared in the enthronement ceremony that he would take over the way Emperor emeritus Akihito has done with his responsibility as a symbolic emperor in Heisei era. With our support to him as a pacifist, he may accomplish his duty in the new era.
The imperial system in Japan looks inhuman to me. Emperor has no freedom in his life. He is confined to every duty as an emperor until age over 90 years. Since Emperor is not devine dominator in this society, he should be able to live as a human before he is deemed as a special being. Naruhito is alreay 59 years old, which is the age most people consider of retirement. The responsibilities Emperor takes should be lessened. He should not be bound to his duties all the time. Most of the rituals Emperor hold at the imperial palace were founded in the era of Meiji in order to authorize the Imperial Household. Some of them could be simplified or even abandoned. Every effort should be taken to reduce Emperor's burden. It may help the Imperial Household to get closer to the people.