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The Abdication Question in Japan and Europe: A ComparisonKimizuka Naotaka

On January 23, a government advisory panel published its interim report on the question of the emperor’s possible abdication. The panel seems to be tilting toward a solution that would limit abdication to the present emperor only. But as lifespans increase, it is likely that the present emperor will not be the last to want to retire. Has the time come for a fundamental reform of Japan’s Imperial Household Law? Professor Kimizuka Naotaka looks at how several European monarchies have dealt with the abdication question in recent years.
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Japanese Panel Favors Abdication only for Current Emperor (News)

Tokyo, Jan. 23 (Jiji Press)—A Japanese government advisory panel on Monday indicated that any system for possible imperial abdication in the country applies only to Emperor Akihito. The panel, though not suggesting a specific course of action, highlighted a host of potential problems in an interim report that would arise if a permanent system is created for imperial abdication. The governmen…
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Japan’s Emperor, Empress to Visit Vietnam from February 28 (News)

Tokyo, Jan. 20 (Jiji Press)—Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are set to make their first official visit to Vietnam, starting on February 28, with the aim of promoting friendship between the two countries. The Imperial trip was decided at a cabinet meeting Friday. The trip comes after the couple received an invitation from each of the past Vietnamese presidents who had visited Japan. …
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Imperial Succession on New Year’s Day “Difficult” (News)

Tokyo, Jan. 17 (Jiji Press)—The succession of the Imperial Throne and a corresponding change of the traditional Japanese era would be difficult to take place on the first day of a year because New Year's Day is crammed with rituals and other events that are performed by the Imperial Family, a senior official of Japan's Imperial Household Agency said Tuesday. There have been a flurry of media r…
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Japan Eyes Crown Prince’s Accession to Throne at Start of 2019 (News)

Tokyo, Jan. 11 (Jiji Press)—The Japanese government is considering setting the date of Crown Prince Naruhito's accession to the imperial throne and the beginning of a new Japanese era for January 1, 2019, informed sources said Wednesday. The imperial family (from left to right, Crown Prince Naruhito, Emperor Akihito, Crown Princess Masako, and Empress Michiko) gathers on the balcony of the Imp…
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Over 80% Back Reduction of Emperor’s Official Duties (News)

Tokyo, Nov. 17 (Jiji Press)—Over 80% of Japanese people think that Emperor Akihito's burden of official duties should be reduced, a Jiji Press opinion poll showed Thursday. According to the survey, 70.9% of respondents said the Emperor's public activities should be reduced. In addition, 11.5% said that public activities should be eliminated in principal and that his duties should be limited to …
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Three Experts Oppose Emperor’s Possible Abdication, Two Others in Favor (News)

Tokyo, Nov. 14 (Jiji Press)—Three of six experts at a government panel meeting on Monday expressed their opposition to Japanese Emperor Akihito's possible abdication. At the second hearing by the panel, one of the three remaining experts indicated a cautious view on allowing the Emperor to step down while the two others supported abdication. At the first hearing, held last week, two conserv…
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The Imperial Family as Postwar Role ModelYamada Masahiro

Since the late 1950s, when the fairy-tale romance of then Crown Prince Akihito and Shōda Michiko captured the public’s imagination, that much-admired couple—now the emperor and empress—has served as a role model for the postwar Japanese family. Sociologist Yamada Masahiro explores the way the imperial family has molded and embodied Japan’s changing mores, from the Meiji Restoration through the emperor’s recent statement on abdication.
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Funeral Rites Carried Out for Takahito, Prince Mikasa (News)

Takahito, Prince Mikasa, the younger brother of the late Emperor Shōwa, passed away on October 27 at age 100. On November 4 the Rensō no Gi interment rites took place at the Toshimagaoka imperial cemetery in the city of Bunkyō, Tokyo. Prince Mikasa greets New Year crowds at the Imperial Palace on January 2, 2013. (© Jiji) Attending the funeral were Prince Mikasa’s widow, Princess Yuriko (93…
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Talking About The Emperor in JapaneseRichard Medhurst

When service assistants talk to customers in Japan, they show courtesy by using honorific language, known as keigo. If the customer is king, appropriate deference is required. A discrepancy in rank—whether in a brief service interaction or within a company—brings into play different vocabulary than that used in casual, everyday conversation. It can take time even for a Japanese graduate new to t…
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