The Japanese people and their lawmakers should start discussing whether Japan should abolish the emperor system and become a republic because it legitimizes discrimination based on social status, a law professor said Saturday at an event to oppose National Foundation Day.

Masahiko Shimizu, a professor of constitutional law at Nippon Sport Science University, acknowledged that the Constitution stipulates that the Emperor is the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people, which is different from the Meiji Constitution, which stated that sovereignty lies with the Emperor.

“The emperor system is discrimination based on social status, with traces of feudalism,” Shimizu said, however.

Shimizu was speaking at an event in Yokohama marking National Foundation Day on Saturday. The holiday is said to be the day when the first emperor was enthroned.

Shimizu said Emperor Akihito’s rare video message in August, in which he hinted at his wish to abdicate, was political in nature and thus prohibited by the Constitution.

While a panel of experts is discussing the Emperor’s abdication, he said the nation instead should discuss whether Japan should continue the emperor system.

The professor also touched on the attempt by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to draft a bill to criminalize conspiracy, dismissing it as unnecessary when the nation’s crime rate is at record postwar low.

“Behind the move is the police’s attempt to expand its power and secure job positions for police officers,” he said.

Pointing out that the conspiracy bill won’t be able to completely prevent terrorist attacks, Shimizu said that the best way to prevent terrorist attacks in Japan would be to avoid supporting U.S. military operations.

He also criticized the Abe administration for pushing to introduce an “emergency clause” in the supreme code that would enable the government to declare a state of emergency in the event of a major natural disaster or other contingencies.

Claiming that current laws can sufficiently cope with such situations, Shimizu said an emergency clause would pose serious constitutional problems because it would allow the government to issue decrees that are the equivalent of laws, which must be enacted by the Diet.

Some 120 people who attended the meeting adopted an appeal criticizing the Abe administration for trying to build a nation that can engage in war with the Emperor as its head.

Meanwhile in Shibuya Ward, about 1,200 people gathered at a ceremony to celebrate National Foundation Day.

“We will deepen discussions on revising the Constitution, which is our party policy,” said Liberal Democratic Party Vice President Masahiko Komura.

Information from Kyodo added

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