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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 May 8 - 14  > Shii in Q & A session comments on celebration of coronation of new emperor & emperor system
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2019 May 8 - 14 TOP3 [JCP]

Shii in Q & A session comments on celebration of coronation of new emperor & emperor system

May 10, 2019

The House of Representatives at its plenary session on May 9 unanimously adopted a message of congratulations on the coronation of the new emperor. At a press conference following the plenary session, Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo responded to questions made from the press corps in regard to the party's attitude toward the message of congratulations as well as the party's stance concerning the emperor system. Following is excerpts of the Q-and-A session.

Question: JCP lawmakers attended the plenary session and voted in favor of the congratulatory message on the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito. Could you explain how the party reached this decision to support the message and what this decision means?

Shii: The emperor is a part of the system stipulated in the Constitution and based on this stipulation, the new emperor ascended the throne. It is only natural, therefore, for us to show our congratulatory response. I myself released a comment to congratulate Emperor Naruhito on the ascension. In the same way, it is natural for the Diet to express its congratulations.

The wording "Reiwa no miyo" used in the text of congratulations means "the era of Reiwa". However, "miyo" also means the reign of the emperor. At a meeting of the committee drafting the message of congratulations, we expressed our stance: the word "miyo" is incompatible with the constitutional principle of popular sovereignty.

Q: When the former emperor succeeded to the throne along with the transition of the era name from Showa to Heisei, the JCP in the Diet was opposed to the message of congratulations, but this time your party acted differently. Why is that?

Shii: The JCP Program at that time called for the abolition of the monarchy, but we revised this policy and deleted it from our objectives in 2004. The revised Program articulates our stance that we shall uphold all the constitutional provisions, including "the Emperor" provision. In accordance with the present Program, we took such action today.

Q: The system of the emperor is stipulated in the Constitution, but some people argue that it is a trace of the feudal class system. What is your view on this?

Shii: The JCP Program, regarding a future Japan, argues that the present hereditary system allowing an individual to be the symbol of "the unity of the people" “contradicts democracy and the principle that all people are equal” and states, “[A] political system should be established under a democratic republic.” At the same time, given that the present system is defined by the Constitution, our Program proclaims, “[I]ts continuation or discontinuation should be decided by the will of the majority of the people in future, when the time is ripe to do so.” We will abide by this policy.

Q: In the future, there is a possibility of making a change in the emperor system. If it happens, would the JCP agree to implement procedures for constitutional revision?

Shii: Yes. The emperor system is a system provided for by the Constitution. As stated in the JCP Program, whether to put an end to this system or not should be “decided by the will of the majority of the people”.

In this regard, I think, the general public could choose the option of maintaining the present emperor system or make the decision to abolish the system. Either way, the future course of the emperor system is totally up to the people’s will. This is the JCP Program’s position.

The JCP Program explains our stance toward the continuation and discontinuation of the emperor system. So, if it becomes a real issue in the future, we will act based on our party line. At the same time, the Program also clarifies our position that the party will not engage in an active commitment on this issue.

Q: If issues of a female emperor and the creation of female branches of the royal family become a subject to be discussed in the Diet, what position the JCP will take?

Shii: The JCP will welcome Diet discussions on these issues.

Past related articles:
> Shii issues comment on coronation of new emperor [May 1, 2019]
> JCP Kokuta: Celebration of 30th anniversary of Emperor’s coronation goes against popular sovereignty [February 22 & 26, 2019]

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