Prince Akishino airs anti-war convictions ahead of 49th birthday


Staff Writer

Prince Akishino, second in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne, told a recent news conference that he is convinced wars should never be fought again and wants to keep the collective memories of World War II alive, according to the transcript released Sunday by the Imperial Household Agency.

The prince said his parents, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, repeatedly explained to him how the war affected Japan, which in turn “strongly convinced” him and his wife, Princess Kiko, that “war should never be repeated again,” the transcript showed.

“We ourselves have not experienced the war, so there is a limit as to how accurately we can tell our children about what happened at the time,” the prince said at the news conference, also attended by the princess.

The press conference was held on Tuesday before his 49th birthday on Sunday.

“In that sense, too, we believe the accounts of (Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko) give precious opportunities for our children” to learn about the war, he said.

His comment may be another sign that the Imperial family has what can be described as rather liberal, pacifist opinions, although they would never be allowed to say so in public. The Constitution allows the family to engage only in nonpolitical ceremonies, and the expression of any of their own political opinions has been strictly prohibited.

But Emperor Akihito surprised some observers when he held his pre-birthday press conference on Dec. 18 last year. In it, he said the postwar Constitution was established “based on peace and democracy as values to be upheld.”

The Emperor’s comment upset some nationalists because it could, although vague and ambiguous, be interpreted that he is indirectly arguing that the current Constitution should be protected. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other right-leaning politicians have argued the pacifist Constitution should be drastically revised because, they say, it was forcibly imposed by the U.S.-led Occupation.

“After the war, Japan was occupied by the allied forces, and based on peace and democracy as values to be upheld, established the Constitution of Japan, undertook various reforms and built the foundation of Japan that we know today,” the Emperor said.

“I have profound gratitude for the efforts made by the Japanese people at the time who helped reconstruct and improve the country devastated by the war. I also feel that we must not forget the help extended to us in those days by Americans with an understanding of Japan and Japanese culture,” he said.

It has been widely believed that Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa and the father of the current Emperor, disliked extreme nationalists. After it was reported in the 1970s that Yasukuni Shrine secretly enshrined several Class-A war criminals from World War II, among them wartime Prime Minister Gen. Hideki Tojo, he stopped visiting the war-linked shrine. But he never explained why in public. Emperor Akihito has not visited the shrine, either.

  • Katherine Muzik

    Prince Akishino’s declaration is correct and
    courageous. War is not sustainable.
    Preparing for and conducting war destroys the environment. Due to the continuous militarization of our
    Planet, we are about to lose the last coral reef ecosystem in Japan, at Oura
    Bay in Okinawa. It is such a magnificent
    place. How can the Japanese and US governments knowingly destroy the
    wonderfully diverse habitat there, including about 1,000 species of fish, 400
    species of coral, 120 kinds of sea slugs, countless seaweeds and sea grasses important
    to the endangered dugongs? Coral reefs are already imperiled by human
    activities all around the world, by climate change, acidification, pollution,
    etc. To destroy the beautiful life at
    Oura on purpose, for an unwanted and unnecessary military base, would be a
    terrible and irreversible tragedy. We humans must learn to resolve our
    conflicts peaceably, or we risk monumental calamity.

    • rossdorn

      Excuse me, but your commentary has absolutely nothing to do with reality at all.

      I hope for your sake you are no older than 12 years?

      • samarkand

        Congratulations, rossdorn! By not even attempting to counter any of Katherine Muzik’s arguments while offering none of your own, but simply dismissing her comment as being unbelievable, you have fashioned a superb example of that particular logical fallacy, argument from incredulity.

        And to top it off, you followed it with an ad hominem attack, another type of argumentative fallacy. Can we expect further such gems to grace the comments section of the Japan Times?

  • zer0_0zor0

    It is clear to everyone with a marginal understanding of history that machinations of the “ultra-nationalists” are self-serving and extremely dangerous.

    War would serve no one’s interests, but they think it would serve their own. They are delusional megalomaniacs.

    • rossdorn

      That of course is all true…. however in this feudal country they happen to have the power necessary to decide in their interest, imaginary or not.
      And I am quite easily able to name a few more countries were “delusional megalomaniacs” are in power.

  • soudeska

    The irony is that revision of the constitution is now being pushed by none other than the U.S. So essentially the nationalists are saying, “we caved to US pressure regarding the constitution in the ’40s, and goshdarnit we are going to do it again now!”