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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 February 13 - 19  > Rallies held across Japan to oppose celebrating 'national foundation day' tied to Emperor worship ideology
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2019 February 13 - 19 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Rallies held across Japan to oppose celebrating 'national foundation day' tied to Emperor worship ideology

February 11 & 13, 2019
Anti-"national foundation day" rallies and demonstrations took place in Japanese major cities, including Tokyo, Sendai, and Nagoya, on February 11.

University professors, high school teachers, historians, peace activists, trade unionists, representatives of religious groups, and many individuals participated in gatherings opposing national foundation day and called for a Japan which values its postwar Constitution and learns its lessons from history.

In a Tokyo rally, Watanabe Kenji of Meiji University's Noborito Laboratory Museum for Education in Peace criticized the present government for moving toward a return to a prewar period by taking advantage of the change of the emperor this year. Watanabe said, "We must look back on prewar history to know how people became 'subjects of the emperor' and we must raise our voices now as sovereign members of this country against such a move."

This year, Crown Prince Naruhito will become the new emperor following the abdication of Emperor Akihito. In 1989, when the current emperor acceded the throne upon Emperor Hirohito's death, a Shinto-style ritual was conducted in line with almost all regulations (Tokyokurei) set by the prewar imperial family law. The ritual itself was in violation of the postwar constitutional principle of separation of state and religion and also the principle that sovereignty resides in the people. Now, the Abe Cabinet wants to do the same as was done at the last enthronement ceremony in the name of "maintaining the tradition of the imperial family".

Emperors are constitutional beings written into the Constitution of Japan. The upcoming enthronement events should take place based on the fundamental principles of the present Constitution, such as popular sovereignty and separation of state and religion. However, the Abe regime is planning to have the prewar rituals conducted without sufficient time allotted for Diet discussions.

The new imperial era name (gengo) or new national holidays should be discussed based on constitutional principles and not on "the tradition of the imperial family" invented by the Meiji oligarchy, the initial government of the Empire of Japan.
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