I was recently asked what I thought about the idea of Japan abolishing the monarchy. Now, obviously, this was a silly question to ask someone who would oppose any monarchy being abolished, but it struck a nerve. I should hasten to add that there is absolutely no talk in Japan of doing such a thing. Many people in Japan are absolutely loyal to their Emperor and even for those who might not be, the monarchy keeps a low enough profile for them not to bother about it. However, the case of Japan is one of the finest examples around of a “natural” monarchy; so to speak. Of course I said I opposed any tinkering whatever with the Chrysanthemum throne (unless of course it was to strengthen it and I don’t see that happening) because Japan would simply not be Japan without the Emperor. Moreover, as the oldest monarchy in the world, the longest lasting succession anywhere in the world, to destroy that would, in my opinion, be a crime not only against the Japanese but against the world in general. A living link with ancient history would be lost.
Japan is certainly not the only example, but it is a good one. I repeat, Japan without the Emperor would not be Japan. The family history of the Emperor is bound up with the entire history of the country and the people, they share the same founding legends and they have shared all of the triumphs and misfortunes of their ancient history together. The power or the centrality of the Emperors may have risen and fallen but the Emperor was always there, reigning above the clouds, as the one constant in a changing world. A Japan without the Emperor would be something not only different but something illegitimate, something unnatural; an abomination. They could, of course, call the country by the same name, they would still be the same people and would still speak the same language --but it would not be Japan. Monarchy is the natural state of Japan and anything else would be a mockery. The same has happened in other countries, always with dire results.
Russia, for example, was Russia under the Romanovs. However, after the Revolution and the Bolshevik seizure of power Russia was not Russia anymore. It was the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”. A new, artificial regime was imposed on the body of Russia which even did its best to purge the Orthodox faith from the soul of Russia. There was, to put it a certain way, absolutely nothing “Russian” at all about the Soviet Union. The same could be said for the Communist bandit government in China. I don’t care how long they have held on to power, there is nothing Chinese about the regime that sits like a cancer in Peking. It is an artificial political system dreamed up by a self-hating Jew from the other side of the world. Some might protest this and say that the last imperial dynasty was not “Chinese” either -it was Manchurian. True, but the Manchurians did not impose anything foreign or unnatural on the Chinese, they adopted the traditional Chinese system of government themselves. It has long been said that the Manchus militarily conquered the Chinese but the Chinese culturally conquered the Manchus. You can take that or leave it but the fact is that the dynasty changed, the traditional political system did not.
Many others have made the case that they are for the ’status quo’ in so far as the countries that are monarchies should remain so and the countries that are republics should remain so as well. Not me, I am a reactionary and make no apologies for it. Germany is not really Germany anymore, in fact, these days it seems to be less and less German in any sense. France is another example. There are those who think that the republic and the whole “culture” of the revolution has been around so long that there is no separating France from it; they are one and the same. Not true. There was an older France, a more noble and sacred France that has virtually nothing, whatever, to do with the strutting poseurs who occupy Paris. I think about those (quite attractive) propaganda posters featuring the image of St Joan of Arc urging people to give to help the war effort. Very nice, very inspiring but the painful truth is that St Joan of Arc would not even recognize France today or even then. That was a different France. That was the France of Clovis, Charlemagne, St Louis and Versailles; not the France of guillotines, multiculturalism and moral relativism.
How about closer to home? How about the United States? In a way, the United States gets off on a technicality. It had no history, as a country, prior to 1776. It has no common ancestry and no common religion, everything had to be borrowed or built from scratch and it has become even more diverse since. So, is the republic the natural state of the United States of America? Perhaps so, perhaps not, but it is the default state of the United States. I can say that I have never met one American monarchist, even among those few who actively advocate for the United States to become a monarchy, who think that if such a thing ever happened it would be anything at all like the same country that we know today. Most admit that such a conversion would require so drastic a change in the American culture and worldview that it would be, for all intents and purposes, a totally different country. Or, as another alternative, that the change to monarchy could only happen if America completely broke down, dissolved or broke apart and became something different.
I am a history lover, I admire very old things often simply for being very old. I cannot grasp the mentality of those who throw history away, seemingly without even giving it a second thought. Such is one reason why I support very limited constitutional monarchies even if I do not consider them absolutely ideal. At least those people recognized that there was something about the monarchy that made it worth preserving. They might keep it pinned down and under glass behind a velvet rope -but they at least have not thrown it away. People who throw history away simultaneously disturb and depress me. I do not look at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle and see frivolous waste. I look at Versailles and say, “What a waste”. I see herds of tourists tramping through the Forbidden City and I could just cry. I look at the President of Italy living in the Quirinal Palace and think, “how dare you!?”
This could, of course, be just a peculiarity on my part and perhaps so. I think a little bit of England died when they banned foxhunting and any Spaniard who would support banning bullfighting is nothing short of treasonous in my eyes. But I also thought it was treasonous when Britain adopted the metric system (I mean, how odd is it that the ‘rebel’ Americans use English weights and measures but England does not?). I don’t want to get off on a side-rant here, but it seems a good analogy to me. English weights and measures are so complicated and difficult because they grew up naturally, over time, in the same way monarchies developed all over the world from clan patriarchs to tribal chieftains to national kings and cosmopolitan emperors. So, you can imagine, if I have a hard time accepting a Great Britain with the metric system, I will go into orbit if someone spouts off about abolishing the British monarchy. Imagine Bavaria without beer, Egypt without the pyramids or, to bring it back, Japan without the Emperor. It would be an aberration, a sacrilege, an evil and unnatural thing. And that is why opposition to the advocates of this, the carriers of this poison, should know no boundaries, and that is why I am … The Mad Monarchist
There are three things wrong with Japan's monarchy.ReplyDelete
1. The emperor is not the head of state, nor does he have any constitutional role.
2. Japan is not an empire anymore. The title should be "king".
3. The males-only rule is probably not sustainable. Sure, with the birth of Hisahito they've delayed the issue, but it's likely to come back. In the old days sons by concubines were in the succession, but that's probably not feasible these days.
"3. The males-only rule is probably not sustainable."Delete
Maybe, but then again, maybe not. For instance, let's use the example of King Louis-Philippe of France--he had several legitimate sons (obviously without the use of any concubines or mistresses), and as a result, he now has 45 agnatic (male-line) descendants. I don't see why the same can't theoretically occur with Prince Hisahito in the future.
Agnatic primogeniture is not bias, it is traditionDelete
When did England adopt the metric system? Last I checked, it's still miles, feet and inches, with pints and gallons.ReplyDelete
1. The words "head of state" do not even exist in the present Japanese constitution. Does that mean they have none? Of course not, it is the Emperor, who does everything other royal heads of state do. I don't know why you would think he doesn't have "any" constitutional role. He signs laws into effect, opens the diet and dissolves them, recieves the credentials of foreign ambassadors, bestows honors and authorizes all treaties -pretty much everything every constitutional monarch does. In fact, the Japanese constitution affirms what I stated about the Emperor in that he is described in law as the living embodiment of Japan. Pretty lofty that.ReplyDelete
2. I think everyone knows Japan is not an "empire" anymore but they still have an emperor. To fuss over titles is silly -they are all rough translations in any event. However, if you directly translated the Japanese title it would come out as something like "Celestial Monarch" which wouldn't make much sense to the rest of the world.
3. Was this a joke? I don't mean to sound snide but the Japanese monarchy has always been males-only and it has lasted for a longer period of time than any succession in history, so it seems pretty darn "sustainable" to me. And if they want to have concubines again, I don't see why that would be so unthinkable. It is not against their religion and even in the western world (where it is) the 'one man and one woman for life' attitude has been on the decline rather than strengthening (sadly in my view).
PA, the UK started going metric in 1965. The English system is still used but it will soon be gone since it is no longer being taught in schools, only the metric system. Again, sadly in my view. I think the only countries that still use the English system are an odd few, something like the US, Liberia and Burma I think.
I argue something similar in a text I'm writing, have a look:ReplyDelete
"Monarchism, unlike Republicanism, is steeped in History. Republics do not rely on their History to prop them up, therefore, no Republic can truly claim to be representative of its nation's character. They are dependant solely on self-perpetuation, not on justification. This is one of the primary reasons why I am a Monarchist. Aside from the religious argument, the practical advantages, and the historical examples, a Monarchy is more suitable to the character of each and every nation than a Republic. Were I to pick the structure of the French Republic up and drop it in say, Canada or Poland, it would function quite well, since very little of the structures of the Republic are tied to national history and tradition. Were I to, however, pick the Monarchical system of the United Kingdom and drop it in Russia, it would not function, since it is based on a variety of nation-specific traditions. In the United Kingdom, these range from the Magna Carta, the English Civil War, the administration of the British Empire, the Napoleonic Wars, all the way down to the Invasion by the Normans."
And about Germany: when they say that the Prussian virtues (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prussian_virtues) are a bad thing, can it really be called Germany? I think not.
On UK and the Metric system: I recall a Monty Python sketch where the subtitles "sketch written before decimalization" appeared. It was quite funny.
Oh yes. My British friend was using the metric system and was asking why Americans were using their "sodomised version" of inches/feet. I think I ought to tell him that the imperial system actually originated from Britain. Never knew this!ReplyDelete
Yeah I agree that without the monarchy cultures will fall apart (fractured Korea, communist Vietnam, Soviet Russia, censorship China, 'surrender party' France, etc all come into mind). Whatever happened to all that was exotic from the Far East... and all the grandeur of the Western monarchy?
What do you think about the Second French Empire though? I know Napoleon III wasn't really... well, legitimate but that time period was a lot better than the republican chaos that just keeps coming back to France (every beginning of the French Republics all have some riot that initiated it I realise). Even then I happen to like Napoleon III for some odd reason.
I thought they still use miles, feet and inches in the USA, UK and all the Commonwealth Realms.ReplyDelete
A. Nicot, a very good argument. Monarchies are natural, republics are artificial, they don't have histories as they invariably come into being by breaking with history and throwing it away. They don't see individuals, they don't see character, all they see are voting blocs, interest groups, tax rolls and bottom lines. They have no "soul" only ideology.ReplyDelete
LP Prince, your view is pretty much my own. Napoleon III was not legitimate, but his empire was preferable to the republic, he did for a time restore the pride and glory France knew under the first Napoleon and though he was not reliable (shifting back and forth between his liberal and conservative advisors) he did do some good things while in power and in general was pretty moderate. I hold a bit of a grudge against him for Mexico but I also give him credit for at least trying to spread monarchy in the New World.
Correction (MadMonarchist): There have been reigning empresses (a more correct term is female emperors) - roughly eight on record. Since the males-only succession was only put into law recently, I don't find it necessarily "bad" about allowing females into the succession or at least a males-first version like in the UK. What I oppose about the current set-up in Japan is that it IS unsustainable.ReplyDelete
Not only do they bared females to a shrinking succession but also put into a law that princesses born into the Imperial family will be removed once married. This might be useful for those who oppose royals marrying commoners but it's useless since the nobility has since been abolished and many branches of the Imperial family have been removed as well as hypocritical since every male since Akihito has been marrying commoners too. No matter how viable an option concubines are, it's not particularly 'in vogue' in today's Japan. The concubines option was more or less a proposal from a minor prince who has since clumsily recant on that statement. Concubines as an option was snuffed by emperor Hirohito anyway.
So this presents a succession crisis. Since females born into the family are essentially removed this prevents the possibility of any potential princes and there's no other way to get more princes with this current set up. The worst part is since Hisahito is the only male born into the Imperial family since his own father and the other princes certainly aren't getting any younger, this gives an unnecessary burden to Hisahito to continue the family line. If he were to have an only child who is a daughter and we insist on keeping the current set up, then we can kiss the monarchy and Japan as we know it: Goddbye
Oh puh-leeze! "roughly eight" -I'd like to see some names and dates on that, I've never heard that high a number but in any event, out of hundreds of emperors and thousands of years of history I would hardly call "8" much of of a tradition -and if the males-only succession was so recent there would have been a heck of alot more than 8 in all those thousands of years.ReplyDelete
There is no problem with the succession, it is not as though this one family is incapable of having children. They've gone through a bit of a rough patch lately but that is all. Prince Hisahito could grow up and have ten sons. There's no great crisis here, though those pushing for female succession like to pretend that there is, they just need to have more babies.
To Ashley YReplyDelete
Japan has been called an Empire long before its rapacious enterprise in the late 19th century up to 1945; a diplomatic correspondence between the Japanese court and the Chinese’s Sui court confirms that – it start with these sentence “The Emperor of the East (Japanese Emperor) greets the Emperor of the West (Chinese Emperor).
Thousands of years ago, the Japanese people had hundreds of monarchies. It was the Yamato Dynasty that finally unified all of these kingdoms under one rule. A national awakening in the 7th century realized three facts:
1. Japan’s unification story mimics that of the Chin’s (after unifying China, Qin Shi Huang changed his title from King to Emperor),
2. The Yamato claims descent from Goddess Amaterasu ō Mikami, and
3. Japan unlike Korea was not a vassal state of the Celestial Empire.
Judging from these facts the court sensed the necessity to “upgrade” the Monarch title from Great King to Heavenly Sovereign (Emperor).
The title Emperor is solidified further more by two events:
1. The conquest of the Ainu (Emishi) in eastern & northern Japan (mainly in Hokkaido) in the 8th – 11th century (up to that time the Ainu society divided into numerous tribal kingships).
2. The annexation of the Ryūkyū Kingdom In 1879 (Ryūkyū Kingdom itself before unified by the Shō Dynasty started as three sovereign kingdoms).
The first idea that crosses one’s mind when he hears the word “Empire” is vastness. However, it is not always correct. Japan is roughly at same the size as the German Empire (about 30.2% smaller than the German Empire).
All of these Empresses were succeeded by their patrilineal males relatives.
Resurrecting the Kazoku Families (especially the Shinnōke & Ōke houses) who were deprived of their status by the American in 1945 is one of the solution for the Imperial succession crisis.
That would be the solution I would prefer; restoring a lost tradition rather than destroying an even older one. The Imperial Family is larger than it appears and I did not approve of those families losing their status in the first place. That was an injustice, plain and simple.ReplyDelete
To clarify: I didn't I advocate for an equal primogeniture. I'm just saying something needs to done about the current set up. Which is really a measure made during the occupation to give the Japanese imperial family a slow death. But give or take the situation, I'd much rather have a reigning Empress Aiko than a President Naoto Kan, No?ReplyDelete
I agree with Anthony. Since concubinage is apparently not an option, I'll also say that even if the old cadet branches are restored, Japan will end up with a succession that will frequently jump to distant cousins. It's up to the Japanese to decide whether that's preferable to empresses.ReplyDelete
Note that the probability of long-term viability of the male lines is very sensitive to the fertility rate, which in Japan is currently about 1.4, i.e. 0.7 males. If that continues, you can expect a 30% drop in the size of your (restored) succession every generation.
Sure, anything could happen, and whatever needs to be done can easily be done inside one generation, so I don't see it as necessarily urgent now that the succession has three people.
"Note that the probability of long-term viability of the male lines is very sensitive to the fertility rate, which in Japan is currently about 1.4, i.e. 0.7 males. If that continues, you can expect a 30% drop in the size of your (restored) succession every generation."Delete
Couldn't the fertility rate for Japanese royals be a bit higher, though, especially in a time of trouble/crisis?