Japan opens the way for l'abdication of the'emperor Akihito

The Japan took a step towards the first abdication of the emperor in 200 years, by submitting Friday by the council of ministers a draft of a special law that is only valid for the current sovereign, Akihito. The text must be presented to a parliamentary committee quickly, and the executive hope a final vote of the Diet during the current session. If all goes as expected, Akihito could, according to the press, to renounce his office as of the end of 2018 and to leave to his eldest son Naruhito and the throne of Chrysanthemum early 2019.

The elements of the text given by the government spokesman indicated that “the abdication should take place on a date set by decree in a period not exceeding three years after its promulgation”. A schedule too tight would be a source of concern for authorities and manufacturers of diaries and calendars, because they are already working on versions of 2019, and Japan does not work only in the year after Jesus Christ , but also, for documents, administrative and professional, in the years of the imperial era.

“A symbol of a people and the unity of the nation”

One of Akihito, which began in January 1989, immediately after the death of his father, Hirohito, is the Heisei era (“Completion of the peace”), which is in its 29th year. His successor will bear a different name, that should be defined by ensuring that there is no previous identical or synonymous in Japan or in any other country, a work of titan, according to the experts. The law also mentions the designations proposed for Akihito and his wife Michiko, once they have passed the hand. According to the media, it would be named in japanese by expressions equivalent to “emperor retired” and “empress retired”.

The bill does not, however, the fact that the emperor himself had left to filter last August his intention to renounce his title in his lifetime, because the Constitution states that the sovereign can in theory not pronounce words which lead to political action. Still, the way in which he had expressed concerns about its ability to keep its role as “a symbol of the people and the unity of the nation” because of his age (83 years) had been interpreted by all as a desire to be relieved of his heavy work – he signed thousands of documents, attended dozens of celebrations and travels each year.

The emperor had at the same time served at a half-word, and that the system of regency, which exists in the current law governing the imperial House, he didn’t because it would remain sovereign title without fulfilling its functions. Aware of its importance in the eyes of citizens, he called for the emperor either fully or not at all. Last summer, immediately after the broadcast of the televised message in which Akihito had expressed his fears related to old age, Prime minister Shinzo Abe had answered “take these words seriously and wish for a calm debate” on this thorny issue. He was then put in place a commission of eminent persons, whose recommendations are fully reflected in the current bill.

90 % of the Japanese favour

According to various surveys, 90 % of the Japanese consider that it is necessary to allow the emperor to abdicate. The existence of this special act does not change the fact that the fundamental rule remains the law of the imperial House, which governs the rights and duties of the emperor and his family. A contrario, a part of the opposition and constitutionalists, friends of Shinzo Abe, the members of the liberal democratic Party that he heads, have always supported the idea of a law of exception, in order not to open the Pandora’s box of the revision of the “law on the imperial House.”

The nationalists wanted to avoid being questioned the patrilineal system. Even if the emperor’s daughter gave birth to a boy, the latter would not appear in the order of succession, not more than the daughters of the princes. This strict patrilinéarité, combined with the fact that the imperial family is reduced each time that one of its members dies or a daughter marries a commoner (she leaves the family), fears of a disruption of the dynasty, the oldest in the world in the decades to come.

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