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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 February 10 - 16  > Mythical founding of the country gives slanted understanding of history
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2016 February 10 - 16 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Mythical founding of the country gives slanted understanding of history

February 11, 2016
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

February 11 is set as the “National Foundation Day” of Japan. The Act on National Holidays in Article 2 stipulates that the day is intended “to reflect on the establishment of the nation and to nourish love for the country” based on the prewar “Empire Day” rites (Kigensetsu). In order to deify the Emperor (Tenno) and authorize his autocratic rule, the imperial Meiji government in 1873 created the day as the date of the enthronement of “Jinmu Tenno”, the fictitious first emperor. This mythology has neither scientific nor historical basis.

In prewar and wartime Japan, the imperial government used the Kigensetsu rites to emphasize that Japan is a “divine nation” and to push the general public into support for Japanese militarism and its war of aggression. Reflecting on its past deeds, postwar Japan abolished Kigensetsu as it violates the democratic provisions of the new Constitution which guarantees the principles of popular sovereignty, the separation of religion and politics, and the right to freedom of thought, study, and religion.

However, the 1966 government led by Prime Minister Sato Eisaku adversely revised the National Holidays Law, despite many people’s opposition, and revived Kigensetsu with the establishment of National Foundation Day. The return of the anniversary of the Jinmu Tenno accession was closely connected with an attempt to replace the postwar pacifistic Constitution and bring about the rebirth of militarism and the Tenno-ruled ideology. This year marks 50 years after the resurgence of Kigensetsu which the Sato regime pushed ahead with.

Taking a look at the present Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, it is similarly, increasingly attempting to impose an unscientific interpretation of history and peculiar cultural views on the general public.

In October of last year, Abe launched an advisory commission to promote the beauty of Japan. The head of this organ is actor Tsugawa Masahiko who often makes conservative statements. Other members include many of Abe’s ideologically compatible “friends”.
This panel highly praises Japanese art and culture that elicit Japanese aesthetic values, sense of awe before nature, polite manners, and patience. The panel calls for the promotion of these “virtues” at home and abroad and for their succession to future generations. It will compile a proposal in June. Reportedly, the aging actor told a commission meeting that Japan should produce an animated movie which depicts “Tensonkorin”, a myth that a god descendant led up to the Tenno family, as a way to break into the global film market.

The Liberal Democratic Party in 2012 released a draft constitution. Its preamble prescribes that the Tenno is the center force of Japan. Article 1 specifies the Tenno as the head of state. All these moves have appeared with Abe’s aspiration to remove the war-renouncing Article 9 of the existing Constitution, the maintenance of proper armed forces, the creation of martial/dictatorial rule, and the building of a fully war-capable nation.

On the occasion of the 50th “National Foundation Day”, it is necessary to rebuff the peculiar understanding of history and increase public awareness of and support for movements in defense of the Constitution.

Past related article:
> Civic groups hold protest rallies against ‘National Foundation Day’ [February 12, 2014]
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