Imperial Rituals Designed Delicately to Avoid Violating Constitution

Politics Society

Tokyo, May 1 (Jiji Press)--The Japanese government has delicately designed a series of Imperial succession-related rituals to fend off the possibility of the events being criticized for violating the constitution, which prohibits the Emperor from having political powers.

As former Emperor Akihito, now holding the new title of Emperor Emeritus, was the first to abdicate in two centuries, the government had worked hard to make traditional abdication rituals fit the current constitution, which stipulates the Emperor is a symbol of the nation, including by studying the "Jogan Gishiki" Heian-era protocol. The era lasted about 400 years from 794.

Through this work, the government decided to hold separately the "Taiirei-Seiden-no-gi" ceremony, to proclaim the former Emperor's abdication, and the "Kenji-to-Shokei-no-gi" ceremony, for new Emperor Naruhito to assume the Imperial Regalia and Seals.

Despite strong calls from conservatives for conducting the two rituals in an integrated way, the government separated them, aiming to avoid the impression that the retired Emperor had relinquished the throne at his own will, a situation that may be seen as breaching the constitution.

With this aim, an interval of more than 17 hours was placed between Taiirei-Seiden-no-gi, held for about 10 minutes from 5 p.m. Tuesday (8 a.m. GMT), and Kenji-to-Shokei-no-gi, which took place from 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press