Imperial Household Agency criticizes lawmaker for handing letter to emperor


The Imperial Household Agency on Tuesday labeled as "inappropriate" the decision by House of Councillors member Taro Yamamoto to hand a letter to Emperor Akihito at the imperial garden party in Tokyo last week.

Yamamoto, who is already under fire from Diet members, said the letter expressed his fear about the health impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, breaking a taboo by trying to involve the emperor in politics. The act by Yamamoto, who is an anti-nuclear activist, has set off a storm of protest on the Internet from critics shocked at his action.

“I wanted to directly tell the emperor of the current situation,” Yamamoto told reporters, referring to the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant. “I wanted him to know about the children who have been contaminated by radiation. If this goes on, there will be serious health impacts.”

Tuesday's comments by the Imperial Household Agency were the first response by the agency to the furor. Shinichiro Yamamoto, deputy director of the agency, said: "We invite people from various walks of life to the autumn garden party for the opportunity to be recognized for their achievements, so for a Diet member to use that opportunity to hand a letter to the emperor is completely inappropriate," Fuji TV reported. He added that according to protocol, any letter containing official business is never to be handed directly to the emperor under any circumstances.

After Yamamoto handed his letter to the emperor, a chamberlain took it and put it in his coat pocket.

Yamamoto has held two news conferences since the incident and said he will not resign from the Diet. Though he is an independent lawmaker, his fate will rest with the Upper House Rules and Administration Committee.

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The Imperial Household Agency

The "agency" should shut it and let the emperor speak for himself.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Yamamoto should resign now. He does not obey our constitution. He must understand that we can not make our emperor involved any politics and using him any political influence. He jeopardized the Emperor's position. Also he does not know the chapter 99.

-21 ( +6 / -27 )

Chamkun: Yamamoto should resign now.......

There is no Chapter 99 in the Japanese constitution. There are six chapters and 103 articles so I'm guessing you're referring to Article 99 which states

The Emperor or the Regent as well as Ministers of State, members of the Diet, judges, and all other public officials have the obligation to respect and uphold this Constitution.

though that doesn't really explain why Yamamoto should have to resign for "breaking a taboo". Personally, though I can understand the need for protocol, to a certain extent, I've no particular love of or respect for royalty of any type so I'm having a hard time understanding exactly what it is that's got you so riled up. Perhaps you could explain it a little more clearly.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Let's look at this issue from another angle. The Emperor and Empress are as on top of this problem as well as anyone ... and they have already made several visits to the earthquake/tsunami area to console the victims. As we all know, Prime Minister Abe and his LDP members keep feeding the public a bunch of lies about what is happening up there at the destroyed nuclear power facilities. So by approaching the Emperor with the letter, Yamamoto made public his despair with what is happening up there. In doing so, this issue has blown into big headlines in the news media, alerting more and more people about the problems there. So ... who is getting mad about the letter? Abe's people. They are lashing out at Yamamoto over and over again. In a way, what he actually did was to target them and their desire to laugh off the seriousness of the radiation problems at the Fukushima site. They keep calling it a "poltical" move, but it also could be labled an attempt to have someone, anyone look over Abe's one-man rule and try to do something. Sure, what Yamamoto did was a no-no in handing the Emperor the letter ... but look what his action has produced: wider public knowledge about the problems up there in Fukushima. And the LDP definitely is not happy with this ...

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Yamamoto should resign now. He does not obey our constitution.

This is nonsense. He can send or give the emperor as many letters as he wishes, including letters with political content. It is the emperor who has to refrain from political activity. All Yamamoto did was a harmless break of protocol.

his fate will rest with the Upper House Rules and Administration Committee.

How are they concerned with this event? It's purely a matter of the emperor or his household agency, who can e.g. exclude him from future invitations.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Of course the Imperial Household Agency criticize Taro Yamamoto.

Anything short of blind obedience to their self-serving protocols threatens them, and that extends to the inhabitants of their gilded cage.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Yamamoto is still a lawmaker: What he can do now is to propose to repeal Sei-Gan-Ho, the law that made his action illegal. It is obvious he cares about Fukushima victims and he thoutht to get help from Emperor as the last recourse. He did not know if Emperor read the letter and acted for his wish, Japanese Goet has to punish Emperor for his involvement in politics (that include any actions by Japanese Govt such as Kouseisho- Ministry of health and 9welfare. Japanese Govt will have to decide whether only abdication or imprison Emperor for His unconstitutional action). It is worse scenario than just violating Sei-Gan-Ho. There are many reasons Japan has KunaiSho and KunaiCho. To abolish them are just like to abolish Ministry of Justice, etc. Yamamoto did not think of consequence of his action as he is a rare uneducated Japanese. He can read and write well but he is not familiar with what elected politician can or can not do.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Purpose of Kunaisho and Kunaicho> Not just governing His asset and keeping sharp eyes on emperor, they have to protect Him from Sei-Gan-Ho violators because often emperors express wishing to travel various places such as Fukushima, etc. Because of Sei-Gan-Ho, so far he has not been buried under massive petitions or letters and presents when he visits Japanese people and safe from injury. Because Kunaicho official (otsuki-no-hito) did not read Yamamoto's letter at spot, Japanese Govt and constitution expert scholars do not have to discuss about punishment of Emperor. Govt can concentrate on working for important issues than participating on discussion of punishing Emperor.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Bu ho someone cut through their crap and as a subject made a plea for help. How dare they! Off with their heads I say

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Will some of you people read the scientific reports on the level od radiation leakage and the amounts of radiation in the surrounding land and sea and get an accurate picture of the situation instead of parroting the fear media.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

He jeopardized the Emperor's position.

You invent issues. The letter is just a piece of paper. Anybody can write to him, and the Emperor doesn't need to open and read, even less to answer. He's like Santa. You write to him to make your parents aware of what present you wish. Yamamoto wanted YOU to read the letter, all citizens of Japan.

and they have already made several visits to the earthquake/tsunami area to console the victims.

No problem. That does nothing, but some victims were amused to meet them and unless pandas, we already had paid them whether they went or not.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What do you expect from someone like Taro Yamamoto, manners and decorum?

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Japan fiddles while Fukushima burns, because its people are too hung up on protocol to confront the issue head on. I say good for anyone willing to fight the system.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

As a Diet member, he is protected by Constitution Chapter IV the Diet Article 50 of constitution while The Diet is in session, Yamamoto's action violated Sei-Gan-Ho but there is Chjapter I (Emperor)/of constitution. Article 8. No property(papers included>?) can be given to, or received by, the Imperial House, nor can any gifts .......without the authority of the Diet. I think it is not this one, but Sei-Gan-Ho is use to criticize Yamamoto action. In any case, Yamamoto did not know he had to go through The Diet for his wish.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

'He ( Yamamoto ) is not familiar with what elected politician can or can not do' Maybe he got fed up of what his fellow elected officials don't do. I agree that Yamamoto is hardly statesmanlike, but the vast majority of Japanese people would agree with me if I stated that very few Japanese politicians are. The emperor shouldn't comment on political matters and there would be very few who'd expect him to do so. No harm done for me apart from ruffling the feathers of the irrelevant lackeys in the Imperial household. He pulled a stunt which was crude but nothing more and hopefully woke a few people up.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yamamoto apologized and he said he did not know he could not hand a letter to Emperor. The leaflet that he received at entrance gate when he registered as a guest showing his identity and invitation notice, he did not read, I'd bet.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You did good Taro. Got to bring more awareness to the dangers of Fukushima. It is a time bomb ready to go off. You know deep down the TEPCO and the Government is still covering up what is going on and going to happen. The pride of Japan at its best.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You did good Taro. Got to bring more awareness to the dangers of Fukushima.

Considering the Emperor has no pull in Japanese government, and considering most people (including the Emperor) already are well aware of the dangers posed by the damaged power plant (regardless of what the government officially states), this action was nothing more than a grandstanding stunt to get his name and face in the news. In that regard he was 100% successful.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

IThis is part of info I found. Yamamoto said he handed the letter to the emperor without realizing he was breaking long-established rules. Those invited to the biannual imperial garden parties in the Akasaka Imperial Gardens in Tokyo receive a guide from the Imperial Household Agency beforehand explaining etiquette. The guide contains a map of the gardens. On the back, a note reads, “When (the emperor, the empress and other members of the imperial family) visit you, please refrain from taking photos of them.” However, the note does not say, “Don’t hand objects to them.” A high-ranking official of the Imperial Household Agency clearly thought Yamamoto lacked common sense. “It is not a thing we have bothered to write as a warning,” the official said. “It (Yamamoto’s act) is extremely troublesome.” A different official of the agency said: “The Constitution says that the emperor does not have powers related to government. To the emperor, he (Yamamoto) tried to make a direct appeal about the current situation regarding the nuclear accident. It is an apparent political exploitation (of the emperor).” There are a whole bunches of negative opinions of all sort of people and a very few sympathetic comments.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Only thing he achieved was that he shift Japanese people's mind away from Fukushima.

Japanese people had Fukushima on their mind ? Are you posting from the moon or what ? If you say Fukushima here in Osaka, everybody thinks you're talking about the local neighborhood, they tell you what train/subway line to get and recommend some Indian or Italian restaurant there.

Different Bakufus were rulers.

Good old times. Now, nobody governs this country. It's going into the wall.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yamamoto;s action is violation of 請願法. Sei-Gam-Ho 3. These are discussed in an ericle on JT Mational section. So check there. Plenty discussions.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I really don't see how it would be involving the emperor directly with politics. Politicians alone should not be responsible for dealing with the Fukushima issue. I don't see how expressing your opinion on a matter that involves the safety of the country and its people is anything more than caring about your country. Sure the emperor has visited the area, but asides from that is he not allowed to voice his concerns over it the same as any other citizen? Celebrities take up causes around the world all the time and without any political pull that is all the emperor really is: a closeted puppet celebrity. If the emperor wants respect, why doesn't he do something that justifies it? I think the media is blowing this issue way out of hand. Why are we wasting time worrying about something as trivial as a letter passing hands instead of the real issue at hand here - the need to solve the Fukushima problem before it is too late.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Amid: Emperor Akihito addresses the nation at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on March 16, 2011, after the powerful earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan. He is not a celebrity. In Japanese Constitution /chapter 1 states what Emperor can do and can;t do. (Article 1 to 8). It clearly states What is his role as an the Emperor. Please read the constitution before you criticize Emperor again.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The civil servants in the imperial household agency should be fired for interfering in politics. Civil servants must remain impartial and not comment on politics. They are not allowed to express political opinions.

Mr Yamamoto, as an elected representative, is allowed to pass a letter to the emperor if he wishes. All this talk of a "taboo" is nonsense. A "taboo" is not law; a "taboo" is nothing more than made-up nonsense intended to prevent people from doing as they are entitled to do. The imperial household agency are breaking their terms of employment by speaking out against an elected representative. When will they be fired or disciplined? If they are not fired or disciplined I want to know why not.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

toshiko: What is his role as an the Emperor. Please read the constitution before you criticize Emperor again.



Article 1. The Emperor shall be the symbol of the State and of the unity of the People, deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power.

Personally, I think it's ridiculous for any country that calls itself a democracy to have a person, by luck of birth, acting as a symbol of the State but as long as we're supporting him and his progeny isn't this a perfect opportunity to "unite" the people on the problems surrounding Fukushima and Tohoku?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Toshiko: "etiquette" and laws are completely different, and there is no legitimate punishment for breaking "etiquette". You may disapprove of Mr Yamamoto's actions, but he has the right to give a letter to the emperor, as do you, or I, or anyone else.

On the other hand, the civil servants in the imperial household agency have no right whatsoever to criticise an elected lawmaker. They are the people who should be punished and fired in this matter.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I agree that the concept of a hereditary head of state is ridiculous but this head speaking out on political matters would take it beyond ridiculous into something more serious. Would it be okay for him to speak out against widening wage gaps and increasing child poverty? These are issues which affect the welfare of many Japanese and are political issues - as is the failure of the government regarding the ongoing Fukushima crisis. Statements which are either overtly political or could be construed as political are best avoided. Any sense of the emperor attempting to influence opinion is unacceptable.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Jimizu, with all my respect, then why the emperor is there in first place? There are many examples from European history that the royal families lead their nations trough hard times and made a stand on certain issues.

Considering the fact that bureaucrats are the actual governors of the emperor he might be not aware of the true situation in his own country. Visiting the regions and showing compassion doesn't mean he knows the full extend of the problems. Thus the act of the lawmaker trying to bypass all the protocol is more than justified in my opinion! Nothing to do with politics as mentioned above!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

.(1) 07, 2013 - 02:19AM JST comment of mine is not my opinion. It is information I obtained, not my opinion,. (2) Emperor's role is specified by Article 1 through 8 of Japanese constitution., (Entire Chapter 1) (3) There is a SeiGanHo law. . Thia law is unique in Japan. We Japanese enjoy freedom but not Emperor. His role as the Symbol of Japan is specified in Article 1 through Article 8 of Constitution. (Entrire Chapter 1)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Jimizo: I understand the point you're trying to make but why is Fukushima a political issue in the first place? It's a matter of national concern and a matter of national health and safety. It doesn't have to be a political matter or at least, it didn't have to be. TEPCO isn't a political organization or a nationally owned company. It's a private company. Why does the emperor commenting have to be political? Surely the grand symbol of Japan has enough intelligence, tact and experience to phrase things in such a manner as to not have his words misconstrued as political comments.

toshiko: 3) There is a SeiGanHo law.

I don't understand. Are you trying to say Postwar Constitution (Sengo-Kenpo)?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@ambrosia The Fukushima situation is a political issue. Given TEPCOs cutting of corners and general incompetence many attacked Kan, Noda and now Abe for not taking a strong lead on this while others have called for the government to step in and take control of the situation itself. I don't think I've read a serious, lengthy article on the Fukushima situation without discussion of the government's role or lack of it. We could also mention the government's poor handling of those left homeless after the disaster. I could bore you further but I can't see how you can seperate this huge issue from politics. Even if that wasn't the case, would it be acceptable for the emperor to criticise a private company? I can't imagine the difficulties this would cause if the head of state weighed in with even an inkling of dissatisfaction with a company's conduct. There are many health and safety issues that affect the wellbeing of the Japanese public, but where would you draw the line between what the emperor should/shouldn't comment on? Do you think that any comment on this situation ( apart from expressions of sorrow and hope ), coming from a man who has avoided political statements all his life, wouldn't be dissected, interpreted and misinterpreted? I can already imagine the 'seen by many as a veiled criticism of....' As I said, I think it's ridiculous that a grown adult isn't able to air his or her views but that's the absurdity you create with a silly system such as this, but better absurd than dangerous if this is the system people want.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@ambrosia: Sei-Gan-Hou is one of too many Japanese laws. Sei (Ukeru)means accept, recieve. Gan (negau) means ask, request. Ho is Law. This law shows how people can ask Govt to change Govt rules. There are many cases some organization used this law to change many problems. First step is to compose petition. Using lawyers is good. Then, go to Diet office and find sympathetic bureaucrat and present it to expedite. Don;t give your petition to any media or someone else such as Emperor. or KunaiCho.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Jimizo: Yes, I get that it is a political situation and apologize since the tone of my post obviously didn't carry. I've been here since long before it happened so no need to bore me any further, thank you. As for what he does or doesn't comment on, personally I don't really care since I find the whole system laughable and useless. On a national level, I'm not really worried about it either and wouldn't really expect anything he said to carry much weight but to the right wingers and conservatives who care about such things. I may be naive but I think you'd be hard pressed to find enough young people in Japan nowadays to support any kind of real cause either for or against the emperor and most of the middle-aged and elderly don't have the time for stuff like that so I see no danger there.

toshiko: As this is an English website, please make your posts in proper English. All you are talking about is proposing a bill and having it changed into a law.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ambarosia: didn't you ask what is SeiGanHo? I just expalined what is SeiGan Hou in proper English. I am not proposing any bill. It is already in Japan. Now, I will write Article 8 of Japanese Constitution. I am not proposing a bill or changing to law. Article 8 of Constitution: No property can be given to or received by the Imperial House, nor can any gift to tbe made therefrom, without the authorization of the Diet.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

toshiko: didn't you ask what is SeiGanHo? I just expalined what is SeiGan Hou in proper English. I am not proposing any bill. It is already in Japan.

This law shows how people can ask Govt to change Govt rules. There are many cases some organization used this law to change many problems.

Yes, I did and the procedure you wrote about sounds simply like that of proposing a bill and having it made into a law. And a government doesn't make rules that people follow. It makes laws so people aren't asking for rules to be changed. They're asking for laws to be changed or created. As for whether or not you explained that in proper English, I'll again suggest you use a spell and grammar check because your posts can be very difficult to understand. I'm not saying that to be mean, though it'll probably get deleted anyway.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

“I wanted to directly tell the emperor of the current situation,” Yamamoto told reporters, referring to the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant"

OK. But what exactly did Yamamoto expect the Emperor to be able to do about this? I suppose prior to 1945 the Emperor could have thrown his weight into he issue, but now?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

ambrosia, Ossan and everybody: This is 2nd article related to Yamammoto but there are 3rtg i in JT National and 4th in JT Politics boart. Check them. There are some new people who are strong supporter of Yamamoto.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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