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Citizens’ groups gathered Wednesday to protest or express support for National Founding Day, the most controversial of Japan’s annual holidays.

The holiday, a resurrected version of Kigensetsu, was an invention of the Meiji government to commemorate the ascension of Jimmu, the nation’s legendary first Emperor, in 660 B.C. Meiji rulers hoped Kigensetsu would lend credibility to their regime and inspire patriotism nationwide.

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