LDP calls for titling Emperor ‘head of state’


Deviating from its economic agenda, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Thursday called for revising the Constitution to designate the Emperor as “head of state” instead of “symbol of the state” — a move that would end his figurehead status and possibly give him actual political and government-related powers.

The opposition parties Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party backed the LDP’s call in the Lower House committee on constitutional revision, which was holding its first meeting since the LDP returned to power last December.

The three parties also agreed in principle at the meeting that Japan should be allowed to exercise its right to collective self-defense, which is limited by the war-renouncing Article 9.

The LDP, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is eager to alter the Constitution, contends the stipulation about the Emperor should be changed because “it is an undeniable fact” that the Emperor is the head of state, even though the Constitution clearly strips him of most powers enjoyed by other monarchs.

But the main opposition force, the Democratic Party of Japan, and the ruling LDP’s Buddhist-backed coalition partner, New Komeito, oppose the revision, noting the current wording, forged in the aftermath of a Shinto-inspired war in which the Emperor enjoyed divine status, did not pose any “inconvenience.”

Article 1 of the first chapter of the Constitution, which took force in May 1947, states, “The Emperor shall be the symbol of the State and the unity of the people, deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power.”

In its April 2012 revision proposals, the LDP used the phrase “head of state” along with “symbol of the state and the unity of the people.”

The committee began rethinking the Constitution in May 2012 but suspended talks last August after interparty squabbles broke out over the timing for dissolving the Lower House.

  • http://www.reginald-gruenenberg.de/ Reginald Grünenberg

    Good idea! But for reasons of political hygiene, they should start with bringing Showa Tenno to a posthumous trial for his war crimes and behead him symbolically. Honestly, this is so totally sick. Read Herbert Bix’s “Hirohito” and it becomes clear as Shochu that the LDP shelters earlier on post- and today again proto-fascist politcal currents.

  • Michael Williams

    This region of the world is destabilizing amidst territorial rows between South Korea, China and Japan; nationalistic tendencies are on the rise, and distrust between these nations grows as old hatreds fester between beneath the surface. This move, when taken into the context of history, is likely to cause further distrust. What powers that are enjoyed by other monarchs does the LDP wish to restore? As an outsider, I wonder the reasoning behind this move; because so far this constitution, which is amongst the most liberal in the entire world, has suited Japan very well.

    It was Hirohito who commanded that this constitution become ‘the principles that will truly rest the welfare of it’s people and the rebuilding of Japan’. His wise interventions led to a smooth transition into a Constitutional Monarchy through the occupation, in which he accepted his new role and became a symbol of the State of Japan. A state that was revolutionized with new freedoms and opportunities, allowing it to rapidly rise from a nation destroyed by warmongering, into a global economic power and a beacon of peace; because their new government served it’s people, as opposed to the people serving the Emperor.

  • http://www.sheldonthinks.com/ andrew Sheldon

    This change appears intended to render ambiguous what was otherwise a clear interpretation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/usman.makhdoom.378 Usman Makhdoom

    An excellent, wise move by the LDP – and one that displays backbone. Particularly to the sort of people – many commenting here – who reflexively pounce on anything nationalist move by Japan as ‘nationalistic’ and evil.

    Yet when the United States, China, and Korea display far more reckless and destructive nationalism, that gets a pass.

    Go for it, LDP. Your opponents – especially your foreign naysayers – have only ever aimed to keep Japan down.

    • DA

      But what exactly does it accomplish, other than doing the same sneaky business as its neighbors?

    • Mori Tadasu

      Is the backbone displayed for local or foreign consumption?

      I assume your reference to reckless and destructive nationalism by other countries is in regards to more recent events, such as the rioting last year in China against Japanese-owned businesses. I would agree with you in that respect; the response by most Japanese was decidedly circumspect and civilized. But I would submit that the nationalism displayed in China and Korea currently pales in comparison to that of Japan during World War 2. I am not equating these current moves to what occurred in the past, but it is not as though Japan has no history of militarism that would alarm its neighbors. I have no idea what reckless and destructive nationalism the United States has displayed recently; their military adventures overseas have barely a whiff of patriotism.

      Also, Abe et al surely cannot be blind to the fact that the balance of power in East Asia is quite different from what existed 100 years ago. Japan may reacquire the form, but is unlikely to recapture the function, of the Imperial Army of yore. Even their erstwhile allies, the United States, would be unlikely to allow a fully-formed army capable of offensive action. I must wonder aloud why US soldiers remain firmly entrenched in multiple bases throughout Japan.

    • azooisaprison4animals

      You are funny. Hard to tell if you are serious, or joking. Anyway:
      I want the U.S. military out of Japan completely, and immediately.
      I want all U.S. military around the world to return to U.S. bases.
      This has nothing to do with Japan, but rather the U.S.’s ability to protect/defend/project power around the world.
      Japan wants to go head to head with China?
      Japan wants to change its constitution? GREAT.
      Japan wants to re-arm? GREAT
      Japan wants to pick a fight with its neighbors, then have the U.S. protect it? NO WAY.
      As evidenced by the rhetoric coming out of the ldp and senior Japanese officials, Japan is more than able to take care of itself.
      It is time for all U.S. troops to leave Japan.
      Japan should pay for its own defense.
      Japan should have young Japanese people serve in the military (draft or volunteer).
      It will make Japan less wimpy.
      It will help Japanese youths from around the nation rediscover themselves.

      Oh, and if the “leaders” start a fight they cannot finish, this time China, not the U.S., will finish it for them. I don’t think China is interested in rebuilding japan after defeating them in war.

      Japan got really lucky last time. There is no way it will get lucky twice.
      So go ahead, make the emperor head of state.
      change the constitution.
      grow the military.
      defend Japan’s “honor”.
      Assert your claim to the Senkaku’s.
      Try to take back the 4 northern islands from Russia.

      Overt military action by Japan will result in China and/or Russia destroying Japan. But if this is what Japan needs to do, so be it. It takes some people longer to learn…

      I will get some popcorn, and enjoy the show.

      Memo to ldp leaders:
      When you pick a fight with China, and are getting nuked, DO NOT call on the U.S. to help you. When Chinese soldiers occupy Japan, and Chinese civilians homestead major cities, DO NOT COMPLAIN.
      I want Japan to get the war it is begging for. And I want it to suffer the consequences too.

      Or, it could shut up, quit agitating, and live in peace. But I know that won’t happen.
      Popcorn anyone?

    • Lilly Munster

      Those who think this is a grand idea should come to the US and talk to the veterans of the more recent US wars. There are costs to this kind of thing beyond money. The money is pretty painful too, wars cost money, lots of it and someone has to pay for it. So is this really a good idea for a country with a short supply of young people and already in debt?

  • azooisaprison4animals

    Sure – Japan needs an idiot figurehead to lead the country, because this worked out so well for them last time they tried it…..
    More accurately, the LDP, Shinzo Abe, etc. need a figurehead that they can use to turn Japan to the right, re-militarize, and bring back “the good old days”…

    I’m all for Japan building up its military – so that the U.S. military can close all bases and leave Japan for good – but the right-wingers seem to have no limits.

  • Guest

    I have always supported this notion. The Emperor should be afforded the same dignity as the Queen is in Britain and other countries. It was appalling the way the Americans treated this country and it’s people.

  • Roan Suda

    No one can deny that Japan has its wacko ultra-nationalists, who whitewash
    or relativize Japan’s militarist past, but they are a tiny (albeit noisy)
    minority, loathed by the vast majority of Japanese. Yet even if they were to
    disappear tomorrow, hysterical Japan-bashers would see evidence of “proto-fascism”
    every time they saw the Hinomaru or heard the national anthem. If they were
    seriously looking for totalitarian aggressors (“fascism” being the preferred claptrap cover-term
    used by the left to disguise its own collectivist sympathies), they would look
    across the sea to China and North Korea. No one is suggesting abandoning democracy
    for a return to the bad old days, but if the head of state of Europe’s monarchies
    is the king or queen, why should not the same political logic apply to this

  • Al

    I hope that Japan will restore it’s full independency and sovereignty from U.S.A.

    What US made with Japan is looks like some awful experimentation – first nuclear “testing” later with humiliating and controlling people and state of Japan.

    The miracle of Japan and it’s strong power to resist for US hegemony is based on the great ancestors of that nation who laid the perfect basement in ancient times. It’s unbelievable how such small nation on small island made such progress and even got it’s own program of cosmos exploration beyond the Earth planet.

  • cf292007

    Good FOR THEM.

    Japan is a sovereign nation they have every right to change their constitution, they have every right to establish their monarch as their head of state, and they have every right to have a proper military. In fact I find it idiotic that they don’t have a proper military and that they are not afforded the rights of a true sovereign nation. In a region where two communist countries like why shouldn’t our strongest strategic partner not be able to have a true military to protect itself. Why shouldn’t it be aloud to participate in military activities around the world like the British Army, or the US Army, or even the Italian army. The Italians were also our enemies in the war why are we demonizing them. Oh and even the Germans have an Army and we all know what they did. Japan should militarize at this point in time given the threats from North Korea and China. What is this idiotic mindset that if Japan militarizes it’s going to return to being the colonial power of old. Its 2013, we’ve revived their economy, and we’ve been allies since the end of the war. They’re a democracy like us (Americans) they will not transform into a military dictatorship just because they build an army. The time is now for japan to take 100% control of its affairs.

  • exexalien

    Personally I think giving the emperor actual political power is a brilliant idea. Over the years the emperor and the imperial family have shown themselves to be more internationally-minded and a lot less nationalistic than Abe and his cronies or Hashimoto and the JRP.