Saturday, September 16, 2006

Japanese feelings about their Emperor

A friend of mine who is French gave me a celebration message for the arrival of Japanese Imperial family's son. I was happy he is interested in the big news of my country. I also felt moderate pleasure of this news. I think there is magic in a new life.

However, Japanese people have different feelings for the Imperial family. Generally, it depends on generation and age. It seems that people over seventy years old respect the Imperial family. If you are under sixty year old, some people love the family, some people don't respect that much. Under forty years old, people don't have a strong interest for them.

Even though, all of my co-workers talked about this in the morning and lunchtime of the news-release day. In addition, all over Japan and all generations, some people have a strong opinion that the Imperial family is noble, precious and proud of Japan. Therefore, all the mass-media in Japan never criticize the Imperial family like my country is under a gag rule. If a famous man criticizes the family in the press, the Imperial family-fans bash the man strongly and without mercy, sometimes by violent methods.

On the other hand, the family is the subject of some people's criticism. There are two points to this issue. One is that the Imperial family system is against the human-equality principle. The other (more controversial than the former) is about the former Emperor (Hirohito - Showa Emperor)'s responsibility of the Pacific War (World War II). Before WWII, the Emperor is also the top of military hierarchy. In reality, military generals controlled Japanese Army. But the Emperor could make a final decision. Most Japanese people think that Showa Emperor's "Holy decision to stop the war" made the end of the War. On the other hand, it is also the fact that the delay of his decision made many victims, for example, atomic bombs tragedies. In the war, over two million Japanese and millions of foreigners were killed. Nevertheless the Showa Emperor wasn't executed or imprisoned. He lived his life as the Emperor after the war till he died in 1989. Some people blame the Showa emperor for his improper action, such as responsibility, for the War.

My opinion about the two points above is as follows:
I think that it cannot be compatible between the Imperial system and the principle of human equality. The victims are not ordinary citizens but the Imperial family itself because they don't have the basic human rights – the right to vote and to choose their occupations. At these points, their freedom is limited. Therefore, I think that the Japanese Imperial system may be abolished.

I also think the Showa Emperor had the war responsibility. They say the Showa Emperor was a modest gentleman, loved peace and hated wars. I agree their opinion partly. However, in my opinion, the supreme commander should have taken his responsibility for the tragic result of the Pacific War. It is his work and duty.

Though I said above, I personally feel that (according to the mass media) all of the Imperial family members are very modest, graceful and decent people. Above all, the beginning of a new life is delightful case for me and many people, no matter that their background is controversial.