National / Politics

Former chief of Japanese Communist Party lauds Emperor for staying out of politics

Jiji

Former Japanese Communist Party leader Tetsuzo Fuwa has praised Emperor Akihito for, unlike his father, staying away from politics as stipulated by Article 4 of the Constitution.

Emperor Hirohito, posthumously called Emperor Showa, “did not seem to care about Article 4,” which bans the Emperor’s involvement in politics, Fuwa, 88, said in a recent interview.

“The current Emperor understands and consistently takes the stance of observing Article 4,” the iconic communist dubbed the party’s “theoretical pillar” said.

“The current Emperor is the first one to behave appropriately under the current Constitution.”

The Constitution, which defines the Emperor as a symbol of the state, was established after World War II ended in 1945. During the war, Emperor Hirohito had been revered as a living god.

The JCP’s mission statement once called for the abolition of monarchy. But under Fuwa’s initiative in 2004, the statement was revised to tolerate the Imperial institution, saying the issue should be settled by public consensus.

“That doesn’t mean the party will propose and campaign for the abolition (of the Imperial system),” Fuwa said.

Fuwa was elected to the House of Representatives, the more powerful lower chamber of the Diet, for the first time in 1969. He served 11 terms in a row and retired as a lawmaker in 2003.

During the interview earlier this month, Fuwa emphasized that politics and religion should be separated when a series of ceremonies related to Crown Prince Naruhito’s accession to the throne on May 1, 2019, will be conducted, following Emperor Akihito’s abdication the preceding day.

He meanwhile expressed an objection to the Imperial House Law, which limits the throne to only male descendants in the paternal line of the Imperial family, calling for the principle of gender equality to be observed.

About the future of the JCP, Fuwa said the party should maintain its current name. Critics argue that the name of the party gives negative impressions to other opposition parties, hampering broader-based cooperation in the opposition camp.

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