Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Anniversary of the Emperor of Japan
On the political front, the long rule of the Liberal Democratic Party (the most conservative mainstream party) came to an end in 1993 but the coalition that replaced it soon collapsed and the LDP made its way back into politics in a bizarre coalition of its own that gave Japan its first socialist prime minister in half a century. Although most remembered today for his high profile apology to the other nations of Asia for the Japanese role in World War II, the election of a socialist prime minister was just the first in a string of disasters Japan had to deal with. His massive amounts of new regulations and entitlements did the economy no good, in 1995 a major earthquake struck Kobe and two months later a cult group carried out a poison gas attack on a Tokyo subway that killed 13 people and injured many, many more. The Emperor responded to such events with a dutiful adherence to his constitutional role and by acting in a kind and compassionate way to give comfort to his people in times of natural disasters. Both of these duties the Emperor would be called on to perform throughout his 25-years on the throne. In terms of politics, the Emperor has remained above the turmoil, never drifting to one side or the other but always on the side of Japan as a whole.
On the world stage, the Emperor has been, perhaps even more important over these last 25 years. His reign has seen the start of Japan reemerging as a force in world affairs and as a major military power (even if it is not, legally, a formal military). Japan deployed forces (in a non-combatant capacity) abroad for the first time since World War II, showing an increasing willingness to put the past behind them and become more self-sufficient in defense matters. Of course, this has not always been welcomed by those in other countries and bigoted elements at home and abroad (though they despise each other) have both sought to cling to memories of the war and keep Japan shackled to the past, a focus of hostile and suspicious feelings. However, so far, they have been unsuccessful thanks in no small part to the actions of the Emperor himself. In contrast to the narrow-minded chauvinism of the radicals, the Emperor has traveled the world, solidifying relations with allies, renewing old friendships and forming new and better relations with foreign countries as the embodiment of a confident, peace-loving, mature Japan. He has struck just the right note on every occasion, expressing regret for past events but honoring past heroism and sacrifice, acknowledging history but not being enslaved by it. Rather than carry on old grudges, the Emperor has set his focus on strengthening the Japan of today and tomorrow by goodwill and strong friendships in the international community. And, where Japan has been met by bigotry, the Emperor has taken the moral high ground, meeting such animosity with polite kindness, an open mind and an outstretched hand. Such warmth and dignity on his part has served more than once to highlight the immaturity of those powers which cling to bitterness.
Throughout his reign, the Emperor has seen a number of natural disasters afflict his country. There has also been an increase in tension with Japan’s closest neighbors with harsh words and military scares from China, Korea and Russia. This, naturally, has led to Japan placing more emphasis on national defense and this, in turn, has provoked protests from Korea, China and Russia with China and Russia in particular clinging to the memory of World War II and wishing to, in their words, “preserve the post-World War II world order” which of course would include a powerless Japan. However, so far, their efforts to frighten other countries and divide Japan and her closest allies have proven mostly fruitless, thanks in no small part to the Emperor himself. He has always made it clear that he values nothing higher than peace, remembering the horrors and ruination of the war very well himself, and he has always been ready to reach out in friendship to any country. His actions have shown the rest of the world that any tensions, such as between China and Japan, are not being instigated by Japan but by China. The Emperor has also been of immense benefit in strengthening existing friendships with American and European powers as well as forging new and better relations with other Asian countries such as India.