Crown Prince Naruhito speaks with Crown Princess Masako at Togu Palace in Tokyo. Photo: REUTERS file
national

Citizens to file suit against use of public funds for new emperor's enthronement rites

40 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© KYODO

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

40 Comments
Login to comment

"The Constitution itself states the heredity of the imperial throne, and I believe Japan should hold a ceremony and ritual for passing down that special status and role in a regal manner," he said.

Is this your personal belief or your expert opinion? It reeks of a personal belief.

5 ( +14 / -9 )

This is purely a formality as the courts will reject the claims.

Even though the claims being made are in fact valid!

In my opinion, Japan in a nutshell!

18 ( +23 / -5 )

The Golden Rule applies, those with the gold rule. Nice effort though.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

The Golden Rule applies, those with the gold rule. 

Which means Abe, as the Royal family here literally lives and dies with the money of the state.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Yubaru:

This is purely a formality as the courts will reject the claims.

Even though the claims being made are in fact valid!

In my opinion, Japan in a nutshell!

You can find a similar position in other countries, like USA, where the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST" appears in every US currency. US citizens have challenged

the use of expressions of trust in God by the United States Government on its coinage, currency, official documents and publications. Specifically, the action challenged the constitutionality as repugnant to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of two federal statutes....

Yet, US courts have been consistent in saying something like

It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency 'In God We Trust' has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

A citizen is in trouble and not a yen spent to save them, a rich family throw a party and we all have to pay, guess it makes sence to someone, somewhere.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Royals cost money and the serfs need to bankroll them-more debate please!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

...funding what they deem as religious ceremonies out of public coffers violates the constitutional principle of separation of religion and state.

It will no doubt be argued that he ceremony is in fact secular. End of discussion!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It is sad that some people have such little regard for their national customs and history.

-11 ( +5 / -16 )

They should expand lawsuit to include removing any public handouts to latest string of royals marrying ultra rich commoners and so on, enough already!

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Good luck with this suit. The Japanese government has been misappropriating public funds for centuries. It’s SOP in in Japan.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Why stop there. They can sue the entire Kasumigaseki. Won't change a thing unfortunately, but its good that they are doing at least something, while the other 99.999991% is sitting on their hands.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

socrateos - interesting points, but 1 glaring difference between the US & Japan re religion is the fact that over 75% of Americans identify themselves as christians with a whopping 60% being active true believers in god.

Therefore the US motto of "In God we Trust" bears deep religious significance for the majority.

Of course in addition to these people, active members of the Jewish faith, Mormons, Muslims etc also believe in the same god which would further these statistics.

In fact so instilled is christianity in the US, the chances of an "open (out of the closet) atheist" becoming president is close to zilch.

In Japan, most people do not associate themselves deeply with a religion and shinto esp is not so spiritually reverred. Culturally people follow practices - seasons, festivals etc - but know little of the beliefs and roots of their customs.

The believers & lay people that do follow shinto lore with any depth are usally associated with conservative elements of society, even rightwing. Emperor worshipping forms part of their ritualistic spiritual beliefs, and some use it to shore up their power in the public eye.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The relationship between the Komeito Party and Soka Gakkai is a violation of the separation of church and state, as well. Soka Gakkai members are told by SGI leaders to vote for Komeito (and LDP). So, if the lawsuit questioning taxes funding religious ceremonies goes anywhere, it will open a big can of worms. (Does PM Abe use a government vehicle to visit the Yasukuni Shrine....?) Big can of worms.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

But is Masako ready to step up and play her position as Queen is a bigger question?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

claiming that funding what they deem as religious ceremonies out of public coffers violates the constitutional principle of separation of religion and state.

A very reasonable claim.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

From an excellent series regarding politics in Japan... Religion and Politics in Japan: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=K2EkLM2RthA Komeito Party: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JNlMOXeKy1I

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It is written that the courts always reject these suits, but on what grounds? I'd like to read the judges' "logic" behind their decisions as I am in need of a laugh.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Well how else do people expect the government to pay for such frivolous things than with taxpayers hard earned money!!!

the nerve of these people to question the wasteful ways of their government:-/

7 ( +8 / -1 )

There is no overarching logic when cases involving "traditional" rites, beliefs and practices are before the courts. Facts and evidence play no part in such cases. Judges are screened, scrutinized and promoted on the basis that they uphold the law, not interpret it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Buddhist monks complaining about tax - how ironic.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Finally some people are waking up as for the last centuries past it has been the public serfs to foot the ongoing bills and payments to the Royals yet never get even a loaf of bread back.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It's nut case.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

stop whining and let them do it at least for the sake of preservation of culture and tradition

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Isao Tokoro, professor emeritus at Kyoto Sangyo University specializing in the history of the formation of Japanese laws, said how to fund the ceremonies was decided after thorough debate held upon the previous occasion and they are constitutional.

So hold them again. Do we not reasonably expect that perhaps some attitudes or context may have changed in almost 3 decades since the last go-around?

Definitions of the throne, in relation to the divinity of the individual who sits on it (separation of church and throne???), certainly changed several decades back due to changes in context. It's a reasonable assumption to make that others may have changed in 28 years as well.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

stop whining and let them do it at least for the sake of preservation of culture and tradition

I don’t think looking to respect what the constitution clearly states is ‘whining’.

Part of the idea and virtue of a constitution is to clarify.

Constitutions are not designed to be treated like buffets.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's probably worth having a read of Article 20 of the constitution which contains the limits on religion:

*Article 20.** Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all. No religious organization shall receive any privileges from the State, nor exercise any political authority.*

No person shall be compelled to take part in any religious act, celebration, rite or practice.

*The State and its organs shall refrain from religious education or any other religious activity.*

If you interpret the last sentence so literally as to make the enthronement illegal due to some shinto associations in the furniture, would you also argue that prayer rooms at Japanese airports are illegal? There's no question that the prayer rooms exist to facilitate religious 'activity' and the property is owned and managed by organs of the state. Or what about legislation which explicitly protects religious people from employment and housing discrimination? How does that not fall under '*any** other religious activity*'.

In reality, I suspect the courts are just going to conclude that the religious activity needs to meet some minimum threshold before it can be considered as such. Using a piece of furniture with shinto markings, making prayer rooms available at public airports, and passing discrimination legislation doesn't meet that threshold.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

M3 a rational view! Now sit back and watch it being voted down :)

Thanks for quoting article 20, seeing the wording helps to clarify possible interpretations (though as it’s a translation you are always subject to the accuracy of the rendering in to a very different language). Judges in Common Law countries very definitely “interpret” statutes, but I am unclear whether Japan follows “stare decisis” or whether it is more of a “Napolionic” system?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Obviously there is room for manouvering re interpretation of what constitutes religious activities carried out by the State.

But there is a wider than wide dimensional space between a chair in a govt office with a shinto marking and the involvement of elected politicians worshipping in shrines as part of their "duties", and confirmed by signing registers using their titled names, determining that they are in fact, acting in an official capacity.

There is an allowance for common sense to come to the fore in such cases, but pushing an agenda to warm the hearts of politico-religious supporters, is more than an obvious ploy to bolster support.

Nippon Kaigi (read de facto State Shinto) applauds such efforts by it's political brethren & sistren.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I like to say that shaming might work. If enough people hold up signs saying "we are not paying for this" along through precious parade route, it might get noticed. But no....the public will have to foot the bill on this. Rich people have no shame.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

would you also argue that prayer rooms at Japanese airports are illegal

Interesting point. I think it could be argued that providing prayer rooms actively promotes the religious freedom guarantee. The government isn't partaking in a religious activity but is allowing others to do so. And perhaps the same logic could be used for the emperor's enthronement. It's the emperor's religious freedom that is being protected (I suspect the emperor might smile at that idea).

To those that are filing a lawsuit, I suggest they campaign for a new government rather than go through the courts.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder if Japan would have been better off if this emperor system had been abolished after WWII. Only speculation. But, I agree that our taxes should not be used to pay for these ceremonies. I'm certain the family can fully afford to pay themselves. I loathe all this king/emperor system.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Interesting point. I think it could be argued that providing prayer rooms actively promotes the religious freedom guarantee.

Fair point as long as the prayer rooms are open to all regions. As far as I know, this is the case at airports.

I just have a problem with the idea of public money being used to fund religious activities. If it is good to fund one religion, why not fund all?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Regions - religions.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I just have a problem with the idea of public money being used to fund religious activities.

I generally agree, but I think it's arguable whether an enthronement ceremony is a religious activity. It could also be argued that Shinto is not really a religion, just a national mythology and not so different from sumo or morris dancing. Which is why I don't think using the constitutional argument is that helpful.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hey looks like Japan is embracing another tradition from the West. Suing anybody for anything.

Come on, it's a tradition that happens what, once every 30 or 40 years? The US spends millions every 4 to 8 years swearing in a new president and a handful of Japanese are going to cry over a ceremony that happens maybe a few times every hundred years...

Sorry if it seems a little silly.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Albaleo

I see your point on the enthronement ceremony. It strikes me as a bit of panto or pomp more than anything else.

It could also be argued that Shinto is not really a religion, just a national mythology and not so different from sumo or morris dancing.

That doesn’t sound convincing to me. I don’t think you’d meet too many Shinto priests working at Shinto shrines and paying no tax who’d accept the idea that Shinto isn’t a religion. We can argue about whether Shinto is really a religion, but the most important factor is the state treating Shinto as a religion - which it does.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The relationship between the Komeito Party and Soka Gakkai is a violation of the separation of church and state, as well. Soka Gakkai members are told by SGI leaders to vote for Komeito (and LDP). So, if the lawsuit questioning taxes funding religious ceremonies goes anywhere, it will open a big can of worms. (Does PM Abe use a government vehicle to visit the Yasukuni Shrine....?) Big can of worms.

No big can of worms.

If you read the article you will know why as well. Not to mention that Komeito and Soka Gakkai officially cut ties to each other well over a decade ago for the very reasons that are being used in this lawsuit.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

GyGene

"I wonder if Japan would have been better off if this emperor system had been abolished after WWII." There is a school of thought that says the US wanted to preserve Japan as a vassal state and a bulwark against Soviet expansionism, and that holding the Showa Emperor accountable for the war would have made the country ungovernable. The US did not want to have to occupy the entire country, and couldn't have - thus, the Emperor was spared and a new constitution imposed. The clause quoted above is obviously from this constitution, not the pre-war constitution. The same school of thought says, ironically, that this "colonisation" of Japan is the reason that it never really developed an understanding of democracy or homegrown democratic institutions.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Perhaps they'd better sell tickets to recoup the cost ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites