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Gov't funding for imperial ceremonies sparks rare dissent

71 Comments
By Kyoko HASEGAWA

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What a waste of money, and we are all paying for it

19 ( +35 / -16 )

Right now, with people sinking deeper and deeper into poverty along with increases taxes, and declining wages it is only natural for people to get fed up with things like this.

People can hardly afford things. The government just raised the tax rate. Then companies are finding ways to pay lower salaries while offering less benefits. No one wants to hear the government is spending millions on parties

26 ( +36 / -10 )

I think its safe to say, the majority of the people would be greatly disappointed if it didn't happen.

0 ( +16 / -16 )

When it comes to Japan's royal family, anti-monarchy sentiment is almost non-existent.

This is incorrect. It should read, " . . . anti-monarchy sentiment is almost never expressed."

"The Daijosai ritual is nothing more than a Shinto ceremony," the United Church of Christ in Japan, a leading Protestant group, said in a statement earlier this year.

Absolutelt correct. That this ceremony is also a public event in no way removes it from being a religious ceremony.

One court ruled there were grounds to "suspect" the ceremonies were religious, but the supreme court rejected suits on the grounds that the ceremonies were "social conventions" not religious activities.

A fine example if intellectual dishonesty by the Supreme Court. Being a social convention does not negate something from being a religious ceremony.

14 ( +22 / -8 )

public funding for them violates a constitutionally mandated separation of state and faith.

The conservatives (often nationalist) that make the majority of the LDP members don't care at all about respecting the constitution since they view it as a Western imposed hurdle. The Komeito party which continues to have direct relations with the religious group Soka Gakkai is part of the country government so the separation of state and faith has been violated for years now by Abe.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

In the UK we have a similar thing with our monarchy.The queen is funded by the tax payer, although she does pay some sort of tax after we the peasants kick off some time ago, the flip side to this is stability to our nation, people flock from all over the world to see our pageantry and ceremonies, historic places, she is held in high esteane through out the world, she is a great ambassador for our manufacturing and exports. so possibly in the long run she is great investment. I think that I can safely say this applies to the Japanese Emperor. Japan could alway remove the Emperor and you can elect a president, and he or she could be like the supreme leader in NK, or a reincarnation of "orange man" him self donny trump. I know which one I would have ANY day of the week.

8 ( +14 / -6 )

I'd rather see my taxes paying for this than more fighter jets.

2 ( +14 / -12 )

the mindset of many people is slowly changing, it seems. monarchies are one of the reasons why many people think that life doesn,t make any sense. while some are born in golden cradles by pure chance, others are born into poverty or at the very least into a "normal" life and all the struggle that comes with it. that doesn,t make much sense at all doesn,t it. i respect the thousand year long traditions in Japan, UK, etc, but i refuse to care about royals, they,re just people. i think Japanese people are slowly realizing that this has no place in the 21st century.

4 ( +12 / -8 )

 the United Church of Christ in Japan, a leading Protestant group,

Do they have tax-free status as a religious group? I sure hope not.

It's high time we review the ridiculous tax-exempt status of religious groups, whether new cults or old established rackets.

And then we can also look at minimizing use of tax-funding or finding alternative ways to fund diplomatic/cultural events like this one. Maybe open up some of the imperial household properties for fee-paying events, etc. Make them self-sufficient.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

It's high time we review the ridiculous tax-exempt status of religious groups, whether new cults or old established rackets.

Agree. I live a couple of pompous "Happy Science" kitsch buildings, and to think that that guy pays no taxes for his bat-sh1t crazy "rel1gion" is just mind-boggling.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

United Church of Christ is an American Church with a membership of less than 200,000 people.

More than 90% of the population support the imperial family even though only 70% support the Shinto religion. 80% support the possibility of an empress on the throne.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

The government is setting aside billions of yen in funds, in particular for the sumptuous October event, which will draw dignitaries from around the world.

I agree that the two ceremonies are effectively religious rites, and public funding for them violates a constitutionally mandated separation of state and faith. "quote article"The government has set aside 650 million yen in cabinet funds for the events, with the remainder split between the imperial household -- itself funded by taxpayer money -- the national police agency, and the foreign and defense ministries. All three public tax money. Well too quote Ralph Waldo Emerson: Speech is power: Speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel; This quote brilliantly summarizes the power of a good speech. What a shame that this monarchy only exists because of the mega rich and not the wishes of the people of Japan.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

To be clear I'm no supporter of our British monarchy or the Japanese monarchy. But my J-wife who does not follow any Shinto religion actually supports both.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Many similar cases were brought at the last enthronement. The courts examined the arguments and decided that it was not unconstitutional. People are free to file an endless amount of suits, and journalists are free to print more articles about this, but it's pretty much a settled issue.

The reason these suits continue to resurface is mainly because the Japanese government has a very generous policy of not pursuing losing plaintiffs for the government's own legal expenses in defending these cases. This makes suing the government a low risk proposition from a financial standpoint. It's something they should probably rethink in order to dissuade people who file cases just to gain publicity or make political statements.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

M3M3M3

The reason these suits continue to resurface is mainly because the Japanese government has a very generous policy of not pursuing losing plaintiffs for the government's own legal expenses in defending these cases. 

From my own experiences and I have had two court cases with landlords when I was awarded compensation twice but I had to pay my own legal fees even though it was the landlords who started the court actions. Legal fees in Japan are not usually awarded so whenever you can avoid going to court.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

16 billion yen??? What on earth are they spending it on??? Show me the budget!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Id like my Tax coin put into rugby development so we can celebrate the brave blossoms wins more often!!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

For the People and the Nation this is a once in a lifetime event. I think enough said.

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

That photo is breathtaking, it takes you back centuries.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

"The Daijosai ritual is nothing more than a Shinto ceremony," the United Church of Christ in Japan, a leading Protestant group, said in a statement earlier this year.

Shinto is an indigenous religion of Japan. Protestant is not, its imported from Europe. Therefore, comparing them is nonsensical. Japanese Government is doing the right thing by the people of Japan and the Emperor and Empress. Good for them.

-9 ( +6 / -15 )

I'd rather see my taxes paying for this than more fighter jets.

I'd prefer more money for pensions than either of those.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

the majority of the people would be greatly disappointed if it didn't happen

It could still happen without being so .... expensive?

For the People and the Nation this is a once in a lifetime event.

I remember the last one, and my MiL remembers the one before that. Rare, I'll grant you, but not quite once-in-a-lifetime rare.

while some are born in golden cradles by pure chance, others are born into poverty or at the very least into a "normal" life and all the struggle that comes with it.

Depends on how you look at it, I suppose. I was born into relative poverty, I was lucky to have very hard-working and education-minded parents who made sure we kids all got a decent education (paid for mostly by scholarships and student grants - yay socialism!) and the 'struggle' to get where I am today has been fulfilling and worthwhile.

I don't envy the royals in their gilded cages, not one little bit.

Invalid CSRF

6 ( +9 / -3 )

What a waste of money, and we are all paying for it

110% definitely, I couldn’t agree more.

8 ( +14 / -6 )

I'd rather see my taxes paying for this than more fighter jets.

I'm betting you would like to see the SDF dismantled.

Would you rather learn Chinese or Russian? Japan needs to be able to defend itself.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

daito_hak:

The conservatives (often nationalist) that make the majority of the LDP members don't care at all about respecting the constitution since they view it as a Western imposed hurdle. 

Not only LDP members but most Japanese people really do not have much feeling toward "their" constitution. After all, it's not really theirs. They live with it just like with natural disasters, but they really do not care.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What a waste of money, and we are all paying for it

There are traditional royal ceremonies in Japan once in decades. The money for the royal ceremonies has been saved for many decades in the past. Government does not take such money for the ceremony from the current government budget.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

But critics say the two ceremonies are effectively religious rites, and public funding for them violates a constitutionally mandated separation of state and faith

This is a very interesting paragraph. The government is using public funds for a religious ceremony. I can easily see why there is descent among the minions.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Aaargh! Damn you autocorrect! Dissent!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Edit buttons would be nice

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Cleo, because of the age demographic, for at least 40% of the population this is a once in a lifetime event. Culture and tradition, maybe it is a difficult hurdle for you to climb over politically.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Tradition and ceremony are some of the cultural glue that helps cement a society together.

As I am not Japanese I am not qualified to comment on the appropriateness of these ceremonies.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

because of the age demographic, for at least 40% of the population this is a once in a lifetime event.

The population of Japan born post-Showa (ie after 1989) is less than 30%.

Assuming that the 60-year-old Emperor enjoys a reign of some 30 years, like his father, people now in their 30s who were here for Akihito's accession will be around to see their third accession. Those young things for whom this is their first accession will still be around for the next couple, maybe more if an octogenarian Crown Prince succeeds his older brother.

Like I said, special event it might be, once-in-a-lifetime event it is not.

maybe it is a difficult hurdle for you to climb over politically

Pardon?

I get a day off tomorrow. Nothing difficult about that hurdle.

Pity about the rain.

Invalid CSRF

5 ( +5 / -0 )

when you see that a former french president (with a court case in progress) will represent them... but sorry

Imperial/royal family are the best thing for a stable country... political are just outrageous !

Cannot wait to see that tomorrow.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Setting aside the numbers and the cost you are not a monarchist Cleo. Politically speaking?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ant and bee colonies need a queen. Humans do not. Save the money for something actually useful to society.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Its pretty bad timing, given the recent spate of disasters to have seemingly more set aside for the Emperors Party than helping those impacted by these disasters. (At least that's how the Story appears to read)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They should survive from donations....period.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Imperial/royal family are the best thing for a stable country... political are just outrageous !

Some countries are stable with monarchies and some are stable without monarchies.

I don’t see it as the best way to ensure stability.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I see nothing wrong with it.

Our countries' tax dollars goes towards funding politician's golf junkets and security detail for their families.

No one has a right to judge how other nation's use their tax money.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

We've just been hit by 2 powerful typhoons (3rd one on its way), and people are struggling to recover from them as it is. Here's a mad idea; How about spending that money on people who actually need it?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I wish Their Majesty Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako a long good health and happy together.

And alsof tot Japanse people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I hope that Princess in Japan have the same right as Prince.

If they marrried with a commoner.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We've just been hit by 2 powerful typhoons (3rd one on its way), and people are struggling to recover from them as it is. Here's a mad idea; How about spending that money on people who actually need it?

i,d give you 30 thumbs up for that, but i can,t, dammit.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here we go again. Religion is deeply bound to culture. Shinto beliefs are not proselytized by anyone really - we are talking about culture. The intolerance of those who go around shaming others for intolerance is truly a sight to behold - amazing hypocrisy.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

 you are not a monarchist Cleo. Politically speaking?

Your point being?

Sorry, but I'm not getting your gist (if you have one).

I feel sorry for any person condemned, simply on account of being born the child of their parents, to live a closely regulated life with little to none of the freedom we plebs enjoy as a right.

Having an elected head of state might be fairer, but in practical terms it politicises the whole thing, virtually ensures that rich people not fit to represent the country are the only ones with the means of attaining the position, and tends to be destabilising.

I can understand the arguments in favour of a hereditary monarchy, but I feel really sorry for the poor folk caught up in its web.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I can understand the arguments in favour of a hereditary monarchy, but I feel really sorry for the poor folk caught up in its web.

This isn’t the Dark Ages. People have choices. They could quit. But then they would have to give up a life of luxury and perks that few can even imagine. As we have seen in the past when a royal family member cannot deal with the pressure they can simply take time off. I would take that gig.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think ancient time honored rituals are uniting. At Japan's current population level if every man, woman, and child contributes ten yen that would provide 1.268 billion yen for the ceremony and I honestly don't think it would be much of a hardship for even the poorest.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

16 billion ei? Care to guess how much is being spent on the typhoon disaster fund? How people don't rise up for themselves never seizes to shock. To always lay back and take one abuse after another is simply mind boggling.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

This isn’t the Dark Ages. 

In the Dark Ages (which happened in Europe, not Japan) the monarchs had real power; they had to fight, literally, for their position and simply being born in the right bed didn't cut any mustard. The Japanese royal family in contrast has long been manipulated by shadows behind the throne.

People have choices. They could quit. 

When you're born to it and have it drummed into you from birth that it's your duty and responsibility, there isn't really much choice left. The same applies to the poor women who get conned/coerced into marrying in. Empress Emerita Michiko as Crown Princess was unable to speak for some time due to stress; we have all heard of Empress Masako's 'adjustment disorder'.

But then they would have to give up a life of luxury and perks that few can even imagine. 

I can't see what perks they enjoy. Every moment of their day is regulated by the Kunaicho, they're given awful clothes to wear, they are compelled to entertain and be polite to all kinds of riff-raff that you and I would never allow into our homes, summer hols are spent at the same old dreary watering spot in the mountains. Can you imagine any of them stripping off and going surfing, or scuba diving, or skateboarding? Or backpacking?

As we have seen in the past when a royal family member cannot deal with the pressure they can simply take time off.

Who was that, then?

Invalid CSRF

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What a waste of money, and we are all paying for it

There are traditional royal ceremonies in Japan once in decades. The money for the royal ceremonies has been saved for many decades in the past. Government does not take such money for the ceremony from the current government budget.

Nonetheless, these state dinners are not cheap. The number of all the little items in a Japanese cuisine all add up. I’ve seen one little cup of chawan mushi at ¥70,000 and a few tsukemono slices of some special radish no bigger than a quarter ¥30,000. And that wasn’t even royal. Best not to see the whole bill.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"The Japanese case is different from cases in other countries," he told AFP. "Japan's state Shintoism... was used as a foundation to justify invasive wars and colonizations."

I would rather they have their Shinto belief than become atheist.

i wish people just leave them alone how they run their own country. The world is always looking for utopia - it will never happen since creation!

If you believe in life after death -through good deeds - you will find utopia.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I on the other hand am a Monarchist. I believe the Royals have an important role to play in society, above political intrigue. On nights this week, however later on I will be taking part family get together to celebrate.

It's my Japanese Grandparents that suggested it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to witness, I didn't presume to ask if they meant that in the literal sense.

So I will be waving my flag enthusiastically.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In the Dark Ages (which happened in Europe, not Japan)

I take your point. I used the term more as a metaphor. Yet as you so plainly state, the life of the daimyo (not monarchs) was brutal and they had the real power. The Emperor simply blessed the guy who won victory on the battlefield.

The Japanese royal family in contrast has long been manipulated by shadows behind the throne.

Life is hard for everyone - even the most privileged among us suffer. Because all life is suffering and eventually death. With exceptions the royal court worried more about haiku than killing the guy in front of them at places like Sekigahara. In modern times if the worst they have it is to summer in another boring 5 star resort somewhere with everyone fawning over them 24/7 I think that is preferable to the drudgery of the commoners life.

Who was that, then?

Empress Masako took a bunch of time off to deal with the stress of her job. And guess what? Unlike most other people when she was feeling better her job was waiting for her and she never had to worry about paying the rent. I don’t say that to begrudge her position. I wish I had it so good.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Funny I often see western people claim that Shinto isnt a religion and Japanese people aren't religious. Suddenly it is now when it comes down to money

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Love the photo. They are almost smirkling.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One thing I have always noticed in Japan is that many people are unsure as to who is actually the Head of State, the monarch, or the PM.

Republic seems to co-exist with Monarchy.

Therefore a religious ceremony is the logical way for the majority in Japan.

Personally, I have no reason to see a Shinto ceremony myself or even visit a shrine, but I accept, I am a minority in Japan.

But I can still enjoy the day.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Waste of money.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I've been staring at this photo for 12 hours now (I had nothing better to do today ,-)) and I still can't work out if they're standing or sitting!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don’t like the king/emperor system at all. And don’t think taxes should be used to finance these people. But I do think since the system is in Japan, the emperor and empress have a lot of responsibility, and I always hope the best for them in their roles. The UK system is the most ridiculous to me. Whew...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

As a non-Japanese living in Japan now I presumed that the Japanese royal family was independently wealthy as is the British royal family The Queen of England her self is worth several billion USDs through investments and land ownership in other countries. In England the Royals pay for the upkeep of there residence Balmoral and the like. So I presumed the Japanese royal family line did the same thing.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@James Campbell

Japanese royal family can't have such investment and real estate business for their own profit. All family members and their budget for living is completely managed by government. They can't have bank accounts and secret tansu money either.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

for somebody who is not a sovereign it does seem like allot of money, to "announce" that he is now the emperor. Emperor of what?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I do respect and like the Emperor and his wife, they represent a new page in Japans monarchy, but I prefer democracy without a monarch, because its better served by and for the people.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The position of those opposed to spending public funds for what is essentially a religious event are both logical and compelling, and will fall on deaf ears. Those who have the power to change things visited Yasukuni Jinja last week.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Because all life is suffering and eventually death.

Wow. Dark. May just as well lie down now and stop breathing then, ey?

Waste of time to simply put off the inevitable. You first.

I'll keep on keeping on, if you don't mind.

if the worst they have it is to summer in another boring 5 star resort somewhere with everyone fawning over them 24/7 I think that is preferable to the drudgery of the commoners life.

If your life is nothing but drudgery, then I feel for you. Remember you have the freedom to make of it what you will. It's your choice. That's a luxury you have that they don't.

Empress Masako took a bunch of time off to deal with the stress of her job. And guess what? Unlike most other people when she was feeling better her job was waiting for her and she never had to worry about paying the rent. I don’t say that to begrudge her position. I wish I had it so good.

You'll recall that it was being a member of the Imperial family that brought on her "adjustment disorder" aka severe debilitating depression in the first place. She didn't so much 'take time off' as get pushed to what the Japanese euphemistically term 'a desk by the window' ( with dark murmurings about her 'failure' to produce a male heir). And when she ( hopefully) got a little bit better she gets pushed right back into the dire environment that caused her illness in the first place. I reckon the ability (and freedom) to go out and earn enough to pay the rent (and choose my own holiday destinations) is way preferable.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wow. Dark. May just as well lie down now and stop breathing then, ey?

"All life is suffering" is a Buddhist tenet generally interpreted to mean something along the lines of "hope for the best prepare for the worst."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And when she ( hopefully) got a little bit better she gets pushed right back into the dire environment that caused her illness in the first place. I reckon the ability (and freedom) to go out and earn enough to pay the rent (and choose my own holiday destinations) is way preferable.

It was sad to watch that transformation, it seems she has become a scripted personality, role playing, always smiling and not sure what to make of it.

Perhaps her husband is supporting her, and she is happy, but seems very much like a doll now.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They need a picture which is more in focus for the lead headline.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This criticism is incredibly petty.

The emperor is part of the state, so state funding is entirely appropriate.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

As expected the lefties want to abolish the imperial family etc etc and turn the world into one bland globalist borefest.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"I wonder if it is appropriate to finance this highly religious thing with state funds," 

I couldn't agree more!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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