There's no consensus on bill to celebrate 'Day of Showa' -- Akahata editorial, July 18
A bill to revise the national holiday law and designate April 29, the birthday of the Emperor Showa (Hirohito), as the "Day of Showa" was passed by the House of Representatives by a majority of the three ruling parties and the Democratic and Liberal parties. The Japanese Communist Party voted against.
A national holiday is a day on which people together celebrate, give thanks, and commemorate. How can all people celebrate the birthday of the Emperor Showa as a national holiday?
Going against holiday law
The reason the government gave for proposing the bill was that April 29 is a symbol of the Showa era.
The Emperor Showa was the supreme leader responsible for Japan's war of aggression and the unprecedented calamities it caused in Japan and abroad under a political system that gave the emperor absolute power over government. The present Constitution was established based on the self-examination of the war of aggression and the despotic rules before and during the war.
To celebrate the Emperor Showa's birthday as the national holiday "Day of Showa" tramples on the constitutional principles of people's sovereignty, peace, and democracy.
The proposed "Day of Showa" involves many problems in the light of the holiday law.
The holiday law was enacted in 1948 in compliance with the present Constitution that adopted the principle of popular sovereignty, which marked a 180 degree change away from the prewar system that made the Emperor sacred and inviolable.
In the course of the discussion of the holiday law, the following standards for designating a national holiday were confirmed: First, it must comply with the aim of the new Constitution; and second, it must gain understanding from and participation by the general public. It was also confirmed that under the people's sovereignty the most important factor is that public holidays must be centered around the people, not the imperial court.
That is why the postwar national holiday system excluded the "Day of Meiji", which had marked the birthday of the Emperor Meiji (November 3). How anachronistic it is for the Diet to designate the birthday of the Emperor Showa as a national holiday.
The people's perception of the era of Showa (1926-1989) differs depending on periods within the Showa era: prewar, wartime, and postwar. It also differs between generations. Ignoring this, the government is urging the people to celebrate and appreciate the Emperor Showa's birthday as the "Day of Showa" by imposing it as a symbol of the Showa era.
The bill on the "Day of Showa" was first submitted to the Diet in 2000, and approved by the House of Councilors but voted down in the House of Representatives. The bill was again submitted to the Diet in 2002.
The point is that this is a fallacy that ignores people"s different perceptions of the era and contravenes the standard that decisions concerning national holidays must be convincing and allow the public to participate. How can such an action be allowed without thorough parliamentary discussions?
Discussion is completely insufficient
The House of Councilors held a public hearing as part of the parliamentary discussion three years ago. But this time, the bill was bulldozed through the Lower House by cutting short discussions. Actually, the vote was taken only after two hours of discussion and without hearings being held. The Democratic Party which voted against the bill three years ago now supports it asserting that the present "Greenery Day" (Apr. 29) is widely accepted by the people. The DPJ, however, didn't take the floor to speak in favor of the bill in the Lower House. It gave no explanation about why it has changed policy.
The question of national holidays is a matter closely connected with the national life and the people's sentiments. The bill, if enacted, will be implemented almost indefinitely. We must not allow such an important matter to be dealt with lightly.
In the light of the aim of the national holiday law, if the "Day of Showa" is rammed through the Diet without sufficient Diet discussion, it will surely be the cause of later trouble. (end)
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