COVID-19 INFORMATION What you need to know about the coronavirus if you are living in Japan or planning a visit.
national

Letter handed to emperor still causing ruckus

45 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

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

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

45 Comments
Login to comment

TV and movies went after you and barred you because of your political activism, and it's a feeding frenzy now. Stick to your guns Yamamoto-san! You can't please everybody all the time, if you believe in what you did, then stick to your guns.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

On the news last night some Cabinet committee (or something) members were saying that they were continuing to look into the issue, and hoped to announce some kind of decision or recommendation on his future by the "end of the week".

Japanese lawmakers are desperate to find any non-issue they can to jump all over, and that will prevent them from having to face the mountain of dire issues this country faces. And the media plays right along.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

reaching out to the emperor in an unscripted act.

Fukushima was and remains unscripted. Life is unscripted.

Time to drop the uncertainty avoidance at all costs.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

Fukushima isnt a huge secret, the emperor needs to know what is happening with his country. Sadly its sounding like hes in the dark about a lot of stuff :(

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Emperor briefly talking ,,,,,, the article stated. Maybe Emperor loved to have a chance to speak to an ordinal Japanese youngster for change? Hope Yamamoto remembers what Emperor talked to him.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

This isn't the Dark Ages anymore. If the Imperial Family can accept massive funds for attendance to a garden party, they can accept a letter that addresses serious issues. Yamamoto-san did a good thing, even if only bringing more attention to the issue, and the backlash is ridiculous and borderline obscene.

20 ( +24 / -4 )

"Some worry that Yamamoto’s ploy reinforced the idea that the emperor is Japan’s most trusted public figure,.."

What does that say about the elected politicians?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

This issue needs to be put to rest. Certainly the media and politicians can find something more important to focus their time and effort on...like I don't know, say Fukushima??

4 ( +5 / -1 )

LOL this is sooo sad! i would do the same i don't care how impolite or whatever. even to the queen whom i dislike. man these japanese really need to feel free and not so up tight! plus the king over there needs to help out what do those "royal" people do anyways?!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Japanese people needs to understand that they paid for that party, and for that fancy suit the empress wore.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

@smith: Articcle 98 of Constitution states that .... All property of the Imperial Household shall be =long to the State. All expense of the Imperial Household shall appropriated by the Diet in the budget. IH did not collect money for party. It is invitation only and guests did not pay attendance money just like party in spring/

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

i'm proud of Yamamoto he's not afraid of being different. good job Yamamoto

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Yamamoto-san did a good thing, even if only bringing more attention to the issue

It didn't. It only brought attention to the serious character flaw of Yamamoto which is the complete ignorance of the Constitution and the 請願法. It would be dismissed if he was still a rabid anti-nuke activist/actor but he's a "lawmaker" and he was invited only because he is one.

Did you really think what Yamamoto did was applauded by the Fukushima victims? Oh wait....

-11 ( +5 / -16 )

commoners were not even allowed to directly look at the emperor, but today Akihito does meet with ordinary people, including those in disaster-hit areas in northern Japan.

Disturbing. Get with the times people

0 ( +5 / -5 )

“Many conservatives (should be fanatics) still consider the emperor and his family divine.”

Primarily, Hirohito is to be blamed for bringing a great tragedy to Japan, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and more. What’s wrong with handing a letter to Akihito? Japan has too many fanatics who give respects, more than necessarily, to the son of a war criminal.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Gosh...as if Japan doesnt have more important problems to worry about..but hey , this a great chance to divert publics attention even for a few days/ weeks from the real stuff that J-politicians should be focusing on.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Go for it Yamamoto San..I'd do the same if given the chance and the position...

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

What Yamamoto did was inappropriate, period, and showed his ignorance and lack of decorum. His symbolic act, which never had any practical value, was taken at a purely social event. There's a time and place for everything and this wasn't it.

“I just wanted the emperor to know the reality. I was frustrated by not being able to achieve any of my campaign promises yet.”

And that pretty much sums Yamamoto's motive (misdirection) and the extent of his intelligence, or lack there of. He can't accomplish his agenda through the Constitutionally mandated government so he's going to appeal to a figurehead with no legislative authority. Sure, that's rational. Of course this time he merely quietly handed his letter of protest to the Emperor unlike in Saga when he physically stormed the Governor's offices trying to serve him with a letter protesting the restarting of nuclear reactors. And he also thinks the Emperor isn't aware of the issues concerning the Fukushima disaster recovery? That's pretty condescending in itself.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Much respect to Yamamoto for this. Tired old Japan is really in need of being shaken up. A lot. The land that invented the Status Quo would need a whole cabinet of Yamamotos to move forward.

...complete ignorance of the Constitution...

That is not important. The constitution can always be changed at a whim.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Japan has bigger (irradiated) fish to fry than this. But the fact that they can't figure out what to do about Yamamoto or Fukushima is telling.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Just another whimp dobber running to the headmaster instead of standing his ground.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

i'd love to hear what the emperor actually has to say about this. it should only be in appropriate if he thinks its in appropriate. not some bureaucrats intent on maintaining their status and power by controlling access to the emperor.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This is all nonsense. Anyone has the right to give a letter to the emperor and there is no law against it. Certain people with an agenda may claim that doing so is "taboo", but it is not. There is nothing special about the emperor, he is not a god or a deity, just a normal bloke who happened to be born into a position of privilege.

Taking a cellphone picture of the emperor or his family also is considered impolite.

If that is the case, who took the photo above and why are they not being publicly chastised for doing so? This whole business stinks of double standards and hypocrisy. Why are the civil servants in the IHA not being disciplined for criticising an elected lawmaker? Remember how a few years ago the police persecuted a civil servant for delivering communist party leaflets in his own time? The police spent many hours following him around (ignoring gangsters who commit real crimes) and in the end he was disciplined for breaking civil service rules. When will the IHA civil servants be disciplined? If they are not punished I want to know why not.

7 ( +8 / -2 )

knox stated " The constitution can always be changed at a whim' Japanese people have to use 請願法(SeiGanHo) if someone he/she want to change constitution, In past, even Govt and or lawmakers tried to change Chapter 2 (Article 9) to repeal but they have been failing. Renunciation of War. .They will try and try but it is difficult to change any article of Constitution..

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The chief steward, who was standing next to Akihito, grabbed the letter the instant the emperor turned to him.

OK, so it's obviously OK for someone to grab something from the Emperor, but one must not give the Emperor anything.

Best just commit that one to memory...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The chief-steward works for the IHA.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The people I who attack this, I wonder if it's truly because they want the Emperor to remain apolitical; while I disagree in this case, there is logic to it. Fair.

I think, though, it''s still this: "Decades ago, commoners were not even allowed to directly look at the emperor." It's a relic of outdated, behind-the-times thinking that needs to change. Something out of a Monty Python sketch.

What, exactly, is the point of the Emperor, anyway?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I am aware Mr Yamamoto might drew assaults or harasssment by those rightists due to his 'letter presenting' to the emeperor when he is making speech in public place and so does his residency. You know those rightists has many reasons to legitimated their assaulting when things involved with their emperor'!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I agree that this shouldn't receive nearly as much attention as it has and is basically a non-issue.

However, I disagree with some of the comments that are dismissing of the reverence shown to the Emperor. High levels of respect are important in the world. Today, formality is decreasing in many countries - calling bosses by their first names, seeing national presidents on TV in their casual clothes going for a job in the morning. This is the modern way of things, and in many ways it's more practical, realistic, and even helpful. However, that doesn't mean that showing high levels of respect towards sacred things - be they people, buildings, or objects - is pointless. I think it's a nice part of Japanese culture.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

toshikoNOV. 08, 2013 - 09:42AM JST @smith: Articcle 98 of Constitution states that .... All property of the Imperial Household shall be =long to the State. All expense of the Imperial Household shall appropriated by the Diet in the budget. IH did not collect money for party. It is invitation only and guests did not pay attendance money just like party in spring/

The finances of the Imperial Household are notoriously murky. The Emperor is likely the most wealthy person in Japan and one of the most wealthy on the planet. During the US occupation, little effort was made to uncover and verify the amount that the Imperial Household deposited in Swiss bank accounts prior to the end of the war.

Of course, neither the Japanese government nor the offices of the Imperial Household Agency have been forthcoming on this matter.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

What makes the emperor (that no longer has an empire to be emperor over) of Japan such a special person? Why is he different from others? If anyone can give me a sensible and logical answer I'd be happy to hear.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Unfortunately, desperate times call for desperate measures.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If what he did was so bad, censure him. If they're not willing to do that, shut up and let the voters decide.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I got an old Japanese military medallion from WWII. How do I present it to His Imperial Majesty? I understand I cannot even write a letter to any of the Princes or Princesses unless I have "a special relationship with them". Even His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand can receive a shirt I sent him and his Private Principal Secretary gave an acknowledgment letter on his behalf. I truly do not understand the Japanese.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Abe leave this man alone he did nothing wrong. All he was trying to do is stand up for the people of Fukushima and Tohoku !

0 ( +3 / -3 )

After Japan was defeated, Japanese Govt confisticate Asset of Japan. Fortune magazine never wrote emperor aone of 100 wealthy person. Not like. Bill Gate. BTW, Japanese wealthy people use Mitsubishi, Mizuho and Mitsui controlled banks not Swiss Accounts. @Kevin: Are you sure it is a medallion? Japan is poor in metal. During WW 1 and WW !!, metals were used for War industry. Hinomaru flags and Kyokujitsu flags were used to award. Only medals were used tohigh ranking officers breast wearing. Are you sure it is not movie promotion medallion> Check writings if any on your souvenior. If you think it is really Japanese medallion, bring to Japanese Diets. It will not go to Emperor becuause Article 8 of Japanese Constitution. .... No property can be given to or recceived by the Imperial House, nor can any gifts be made therefrom, without the authorization of the Diet. Constitution of Japan may sound odd but until someone succesfully use SeiGanHo, to repeal, people have to follow, like USA where guns are not illegal. Kevin, Japan is not a territory of Thailand.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Real Political intrigue in Japan... stuff for novels, wow!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Makes me laugh how people like to pick and choose what the emperor gets involved in. If he gets politically involved in Fukushima it's all okay but if he were to be involved in changing Article 9 you'd all be up in arms. You can't pick and choose constitutional and absolute monarchy when it suits you. The reality is one or the other.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Masaki, with respect you skew your argument with irrelevant comparisons (pope of Shintoism) and things like "Jesus Christ's re-advent" (not sure what it means, by the way) - but you said it best in your penultimate sentence:

Yamamoto has not gone to Fukushima once

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Makes me laugh how people like to pick and choose what the emperor gets involved in. If he gets politically involved in Fukushima it's all okay but if he were to be involved in changing Article 9 you'd all be up in arms.

I can't find a single post on this thread that suggests the Emperor should 'get involved' in anything. The story is about Yamamoto and his letter, not about what the Emperor should or should not do.

If Yamamoto committed a faux pas in handing the letter over, surely the Emperor, who has spent his whole life steeped in IHA protocol, committed a faux pas in accepting it? Yet the newbie Yamamoto gets hauled over the coals and not a critical word is said about the Emperor who should know better?

Storm. Very. Small. Teacup.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I hope people can learn what kind of gourmet food is served there this time. This kind of invitation, you can not bring your family or friends if you are not relatives of Emperor's family or from family who were former nobles. Then, if you are chosen to be one of speakers, you will be coached how to hold the microphone and speak loudly so that your speech is not mumbled. Some guests try to bring their families inside but the majority of guests are familiar to go to invited parties that they do not bring someone else. Big problem is parking spots.Some people drive by themselves but many guests come with limos (either their own or limo service) Look at Emperor? If you wear glasses, take out and look at him, No one will find you are looking at Emperor. . Taking picture? If you have two small thin i-phones, you can take pictures but guests are usually not a technocrat so " don't take photo: guide is good enough. If you don;t give junks, you can speak to him, not a message but Omedetou Gozaimasu, etc when you get in line and your turn to bow comes. To be invited? Try to become an executive in Nisshin (Top Ramen) if you are not noble related. It is Empress' family owned company. Fukushima-wa taihen deshita-ne, is short enough.. .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No matter how respected the emperor is, he is only a human being. It is time to treat him like one and allow him to actually do something besides just be a reflection of the past. I wonder what the emperor would like to be doing if he could. It must be frustrating not to actually take part in his country, being so tied up by tradition as to be virtually helpless.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I don;t think He will go on politics even Chapter 1 (Article 1 - 8) of Emperor was taken out. His Father was used as puppet by military and politicians during WW II. though Emperor Showa was a botanist/ After war, Constitution was changed so that politicians can not use Emperor as a puppet to promote their causes. The Emperor was just figure head while Various Bakufus governed Japan for more then 300 years before Meiji Ishin. This emperor is an established Marine Biologist. So, if he is freed from Constitution, he probably wants to do research of marine biology. //We commoners were liberated but not Emperor He can't say I want to take a nap so I don't want to go to Diet opening, etc. In Japan, only Emperor does not have freedom. He can't go to shopping, either, Emperor Showa expressed a desire to be hang instead of A class War criminals but Gen MacArthur disobeyed Truman's order.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There exist at least two more cases of commoners who made direct or near-direct appeals to an emperor, not mentioned in the article.

Kurosawa Tokiko, in 1859, appealed for the release from home arrest of Tokugawa Nariaki. She gave the appeal to a court official to give the emperor, but was still viewed as a direct appeal to the emperor. She spent a little time in jail, and was banned from certain places like her hometown. [Portents and Politics: Two Women Activistson the Verge of the Meiji Restoration, Laura Nenzi]

Private Kitahara Taisaku was a Burakumin caste activist who made his appeal by stepping out of line during a march in front of the emperor. He was protesting anti-Burakumin prejudice. He was sentenced to one year in jail. However, the public response was generally sympathetic to his cause, and resulted in better treatment for Burakumin. [Political Protest and social control in pre-war Japan: The origins of Buraku Liberation, Ian Neary] [Peasants, Rebels, Women and Outcasts, Mikiso Hane]

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese politicians do care about Fukushima victims. Including Sociaist (Shakaito) and Communist :Party which promoted Yamamoto to be elected in Tokyo. work their way than promoting Yamamoto orgamization, Small parties members either. Saga Prefecture elected politicians (Kyushu) are not going with Yamamoto either. That is why Yamamoto's recourse was to hand letter to Emperor. Japanese people qho listened to Yamamoto labelin whar they are and what their country are staying away from Yamamoto, too. Not because Yamamoto has been saying Tak-shima belongs to Kan-koku (South Korea) but ....... Don;t worry. Elected politicians have been working for welfare of Dukushima victims. Don't think they don;t lnow Fukushima,

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