national

New era approaches, but Japan's dwindling imperial line clouds future

31 Comments
By Megumi Iizuka

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Is Abe more "nationalistic" than Trump? I don't see Trump being called right wing.

They're both nationalistic. Trump is a right-wing populist/nativist and Abe's a right-wing nationalist. And they're both up to their armpits with some disgusting scumbags. The fact that Abe's not more frequently called a right-winger says more about Japan's closed discourse than his ideology. And if you haven't heard Trump called right-wing in American media, then you simply haven't been paying attention.

I'd conclude that you spend an awful lot of time defending Abe and his fellow nationalists for a guy who "doesn't like him." Judging by past commentary, it seems apparent that you have similar views about history. So perhaps what most bothers you about the nomenclature involved is that outside of Japan, where seemingly everyone holds such views, you would be considered a right-winger yourself.

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@Educator60

Yes, I read that. Suppose they elevated 4-5 members of royal cadet family lines to senior positions and gave them salaries and duties? Or as many as 10-12, one from however many cadet lines that were abolished. You act like that would break the privy purse. It would be the equivalent to paying the salaries, etc of a dozen more politicians.

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@Jcapan

Abe has been soft when dealing with Korea. Paid money to comfort women and gave apology, sign a deal as Final and Irreversible when every single right wing in Japan was against it. 

His the farthest thing from a right wing and @bullfighter made a perfect point for people like you who dont understand the word right wing. Just because you don't like Abe doesn't make him a right wing national.

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Dirk T, Your idea would perhaps supply “royal” husbands for a few of the female royals (there actually aren’t many needing a husband at all) but it wouldn’t be much help for the problem of a lack of members to perform public duties. You might want to read the paragraph starting with “Yamashita says one solution ...” and the one following it.

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@Educator60

How many hundreds of people are in the British royal family? Yet only a few of them, the senior members, have duties and salaries. Restoring the cadet lines of the Japanese royal families could be along those lines.

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Yeah, well, when you kick out the women when they get married, and don't allow women to ascend to the throne, why would you be surprised that everything is dwindling? The imperial agency which controls how the family breathes is its own worst enemy.

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'"Abe's a relatively standard neoliberal in that regard. I'm talking about his nationalism, which is widely acknowledged to be "right-wing." '

Is Abe more "nationalistic" than Trump? I don't see Trump being called right wing.

"determination to reinterpret settled history"

What settled history? The only countries that have a settled interpretation of history are communist regimes like North Korea.

People make this claim about Abe. I say give me some examples in Japanese. No one has done that so far.

Has Abe made more effort to control "media narratives" than Trump? I think not. Again, Trump is not called "right wing" on the basis of his frequent attacks on the news media.

I happen to do work for one of Japan's major newspapers. I write about controversial subjects. I haven't seen or heard of any intimidation from Abe or anywhere else.

If Abe is indeed trying to control media narratives, he has done a singularly poor job of it. If anything his two school scandals got vastly more attention than they deserved as news.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a FCCJ press conference on the subject of media freedom in Japan. There was little mention of Abe. Most of the criticism was aimed at the corporate structure of the press and the press clubs that predate Abe by decades. In my own experience, advertisers have much more influence on the press than does the Japanese government.

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bullfighter, I'm not talking about economics--Abe's a relatively standard neoliberal in that regard. I'm talking about his nationalism, which is widely acknowledged to be "right-wing." Or his determination to reinterpret settled history or his administration's desire to control media narratives, via intimidation if necessary. Not all right-wingers drive black vans or talk like Jair Bolsonaro. The "real right wingers" of which you speak are in fact fascists awaiting their moment.

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I wonder if I am the only one who finds it strange that foreign nationals seem more concerned about the survival of the Japanese monarchy than even Japanese right wingers. I grew up reading Marxist influenced writing that claimed that the Japanese monarchy was a feudal, anti-democratic institution that should be abolished. Seems to me that given the traditional if somewhat moderated hostility of the left in Japan to the monarchy, anyone who is looking for ways to keep it going is actually taking a right-wing stance.

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Let's stop pretending Abe himself isn't as deeply conservative as this "core support base." Point me to a single instance during his interminable reign when he's defied them. I'll be waiting. On issue after issue, he governs like a right-wing ideologue b/c, surprise, that's what he actually believes.

I don't know what your definition of right-wing is. Abe is not right-wing in US terms. He does not try to cut taxes and spending. He has raised taxes and spending. He has not tried to end our national health insurance system. He has not tried to make Japanese immigration policy more restrictive, quite the opposite. He has not tried to end the very liberal regime for getting abortions in Japan. He did not, as many anticipated he would, repudiate the Murayama statement on government responsibility for the "comfort women."

If you look at political leaders styled "right-wing" in Europe such as Viktor Orban in Hungary, Abe has almost nothing in common with them.

I would suggest anyone who applies the term right-wing to Abe should read up on the right-wing in Europe and the US. Make a list of what gets them called right-wing. Then see how many of those points apply to Abe. Almost none.

As part of my research, I attend meetings by various groups in Japan that deserve to be called right-wing. Real right-wingers in Japan do not have a high opinion of Abe.

I personally don't like Abe. I don't vote LDP. But, as a Japanese voter and as someone who reads continually about US, European, and Japanese politics, I'd say that in American terms, Abe as at the left edge of the Republican Party or the left-edge of the British Tory Party. Unless you consider the Republicans or the Tories to be "right-wing," that term is inappropriate for Abe.

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I am reminded of the old adage:

-- Adapt or Die!

The solution is obvious:

-- Allow the firstborns, whether male or female, to assume the throne.

-- Reform the IHA and get rid of all of the 19th century male chauvinist oyajis and babas that make decisions.

But....

In Japan, the obvious solutions are ignored.... because.....

Saaaaaa.....

Muzukashiiiiiii......

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If the system is not in line with the present value promoting women's social advancement, it will not be able to gain public support," said Kawanishi.

But Monarchy itself is not in line with the present value promoting women's social advancement, and nothing is going to change that. 'Modern Royals' is an oxymoron (& total nonsense), only the most gullible flag-waving fools believe that not wearing a tie, kicking a football or allowing women to ascend to the throne make them 'Modern Royals'. It doesn't.

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Look to the UK example. Have a Queen / Empress

That's was easy

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Dirk T, “Why assume that? All that is needed is for titles to be restored. All of them now have private lives and are self-supporting.”

Yes I know they have their own self-supporting lives now. But I don’t see how they can be expected to help out by performing royal duties (which at the least would make their lives busier and could even impinge on their current jobs etc) without remuneration.

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couldn't the money wasted on this lot go to a better cause? like orphans? Or battered women... something that society could actually benefit from. Why not just let the whole circus ed with the current dude?

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Good luck to them. I have way more time for them than the leeches around them telling them what to do and think.

When he made his (completely unprecedented) abdication appeal on the tv, Akihito spoke really well. It is a shame those around the royal family stop them from having a more active role in Japanese life.

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Actually as we have seen a Princess can't marry just anyone the Imperial Household Agency have the power to stop their marriage for their own reasons, so it's not as easy as I thought to get out.

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I only said she married into the cage (after much pressure) has suffered mentally from this. Fail to see what point you are trying to make? Think it was pretty clear.

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@ Educator60 If the branches are restored and the members perform royal duties I’m assuming they will also need to receive financial and logistic support. What sort of increases are seen for the budget?

Why assume that? All that is needed is for titles to be restored. All of them now have private lives and are self-supporting.

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Or he's just an out and out cynic who's exploiting them for the votes.

Perhaps but as a judge told me in my wayward youth, if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. I'd add that if it hangs out with a bunch of other ducks who are members of right-wing nationalist groups like Nippon Kaigi...

Ultimately, I think if you have political ambitions in Japan, at some point you're going to have to accommodate the right. This may not mean officially joining their ranks, but I doubt if many young progressives are prepared to engage them either. And who can blame them given how that's worked out over the past century. No doubt this is a reason a lot of promising young people eschew public service entirely.

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we saw Masako San married into the cage her mental condition suffered. Lesson don't marry a Royal and if you can marry a commoner.

Pricess Masako was a commoner.

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Oops, hit post too soon.

I mean what kind of increases would be necessary in the amount of tax payer funds to do that? In all the discussion of this idea I’ve seen I’ve not heard any talk about the possible costs. When the polls ask the public if they are in favor of such restoration are they also asking the public if they are willing to pay for it?

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If the branches are restored and the members perform royal duties I’m assuming they will also need to receive financial and logistic support. What sort of increases are seen for the budget?

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At least the woman can marry a commoner and get out with a sizeable chunk of tax payer money. The men are stuck being told by the Imperial Household Agency when to wake up, what to wear, what to say. As we saw Masako San married into the cage her mental condition suffered. Lesson don't marry a Royal and if you can marry a commoner. It's no wonder the family are shrinking.

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Dwindling numbers, conservatives being opposed to any women in power, desperately clinging to outdated traditions... it’s an interesting indicator of where Japan is at as a whole right now.

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The occupying Americans dissolved the numerous royal cadet branches in 1947. Restore them and the problem is solved.

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jcapanToday 07:05 am JST

Let's stop pretending Abe himself isn't as deeply conservative as this "core support base."

Or he's just an out and out cynic who's exploiting them for the votes. That being said he does actually appear to believe all this stuff.

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this photo appears to say it all - the royal family behind what seems to be a window separate from the people. Visible but out of reach and consequence...

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But Hideya Kawanishi, an associate professor of modern Japanese history at Nagoya University, said there is little momentum for revising the Imperial House Law to enable female imperial family members to retain royal status after marriage due to opposition from conservatives, who represent the core support base of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Let's stop pretending Abe himself isn't as deeply conservative as this "core support base." Point me to a single instance during his interminable reign when he's defied them. I'll be waiting. On issue after issue, he governs like a right-wing ideologue b/c, surprise, that's what he actually believes. No one is holding his feet to the fire--he's propped them there on a gilded ottoman by choice. And you'll find that to hold true for most of his party.

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