Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Monarchy Profile: Japan

Name: The State of Japan
Reigning Monarch: His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito
Reigning Family: Yamato dynasty
Status: Japan has been a constitutional monarchy since the time of the “Meiji Restoration” but a new constitution was adopted after World War II and the transition of the country from the ‘Empire of Japan’ to the ‘State of Japan’. The Emperor has no political power or real role in government. It is even debatable whether he is the actual Head of State of Japan though he certainly fills that role. According to the constitution, the Emperor is the “symbol of the state and the unity of the people”. He is specifically denied the title of “sovereign” as in the new constitution popular sovereignty was adopted. He appoints the prime minister but has no choice in who is appointed nor can he refuse to appoint the designated individual. However, the Emperor is still a central figure in the native Shinto religion, still held by some to be a descendent of divine figures and the living embodiment of the Japanese nation. In general the Emperor and Imperial Family in Japan are spoken of only in formal and respectful tones and debate about the monarchy can still excite deep passions amongst the Japanese people. The imperial monarchy of Japan is the oldest hereditary succession in the world, dating back to traceless antiquity and most could not imagine Japan without an Emperor. His presence, regardless of actual authority, has been an anchor of stability in radically changing times.


  1. Sadly, Japan may be one of the only constitutional monarchies that could accurately be described as a "crowned republic".

  2. I would say *almost*. There are others more worthy of the title I think only because the monarchy in Japan is so ancient and so bound up with the history and traditions of the country even today. It is significant that the Emperor is called the 'symbol of the nation'. Others in Europe say that but I don't get the feeling that they mean it the same way the Japanese always have because for them it is nothing new really. Even though the powers and part in government of the Emperor are diminished to nothing they still recognize, by that line in the law, that Japan IS the Emperor and the Emperor IS Japan.

  3. He is the last (I suppose) Emperor on Earth, therefore we owe respect for him, regardless of religion, and views on which monarchy is better.

    Funny thing is, that the main liberal and leftist newspaper in Poland wrote today about his Imperial Majesty and stated that he is certainly a democrat (sic!).

  4. I always wondered just how the Japanese people themselves feel. Despite conventional Wisdom saying that all people long for Democracy and would, if given the Chance, increase it, Liechtenstein vote din referendum to increase the Power of their Archduke. The People of Sark, from what I've heard, are growing disillusioned with Democracy but feel pressured to remain one, and many of the Lands in Arabia think that their Monarchies are doing well.

    So I wonder, if given the Chance, woudl japan increase the power of their Emperor? Japan has no Military and its defenses are handle by America, this is part of the concessions they made after World War 2, along ewith the new Cosntitution thsat renders the Emperor powerless. But 65 years have passed, so what if they decided on a new deal, a Constitution which allows them to have their own Military? If this happens, the international community wouldn't complain but think it just puts an end to the Era of the Post War control of Japan, and if a new Constitutional convention is Held, would there be support for increasing His Imperial Majesty's power?

  5. The thing is, that there is no incentive for Japan as a state to do that. As long as it has military protection provided willfully by the U.S.A., there is no reason it would develop its own military (from a Realist position in International Relations anyway). Of course, they may elect to do so from a patriotic, nationalist, or emotional reason.

    I think that overall however, Monarchy is being seen more and more as a plausible alternative to democracy yet again in all of the world.

  6. I will just point out that Japan does have a military and in recent years they have even participated in some international coalitions. They are "self-defense forces" rather than the old imperial military, and they are limited but they are by no means unarmed. The Japanese navy in particular is a very advanced and well trained force that even the PRC does not take lightly (their own naval forces being rather behind the times though advancing rapidly).

  7. Japan in my opinion should modify his constitution in 3 points.
    1) Them Emperor of Japan should have the powers that he used to have before the american ocupation but with some reforms in the legislative power like that he only could make projects of law and more democratic goverment.
    2)Japan should change his name to his former name The Great Empire of Japan.
    3)They should abolish that stupid article of the ban any kind of war because the war is necesary to protect the country of some other countryes like north korea and PRC

  8. I would consider such modifications an improvment on all three counts.


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