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Ruling, opposition parties react to Emperor’s message expressing wish to abdicate

In reaction to the Emperor’s message on Aug. 8 expressing his desire to abdicate, members of the ruling and opposition parties voiced the opinion that a national debate should be launched on the Emperor’s abdication of the throne in favor of the Crown Prince. All parties are preparing to make systemic changes in the Diet in line with the government’s moves and public opinion trends.

 

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai told reporters: “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Kantei’s judgment is of primary importance.” He added: “We should also take the message seriously in dealing with this issue.” He indicated concurrence with the Emperor’s abdication, stating: “The people should think about how to accommodate His Majesty’s wishes.”

 

The opposition parties were also of the same opinion. Japanese Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii stated at a news conference that, “It is the political authorities’ duty to deliberate seriously on the issue of abdication,” stressing the role of the Diet.

 

Party for Japanese Kokoro leader Kyoko Nakayama agreed that “there need to be serious discussions in the Diet.”

 

In connection with how to accommodate the Emperor’s wishes, Social Democratic Party (SDP) Secretary General Seiji Mataichi issued a statement saying, “While the Emperor is the symbol of the state, his human rights and wishes as a person should also be respected.” The SDP stressed that this issue, including the revision of the Imperial Household Law, should be discussed.

 

Although Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi merely said, “I would like to pay tribute to His Majesty’s performance of his duties so far as the symbol of the state,” a senior party official observed, “[The Emperor] has raised questions concerning the concept of the Emperor as a symbol and the aging of the Emperor. I think we will probably have to deal with this by legislating special laws.”

 

Initiatives from Osaka (Osaka Ishin no Kai) is also considering the issue of systemic changes. Party leader Ichiro Matsui said in his statement: “We will discuss the official duties of an aging emperor and the Imperial Household system itself based on the opinion of the majority of the people, in order to accommodate His Majesty’s wishes.”

 

Most political parties agree that too much time should not be spent on the discussion. Democratic Party President Katsuya Okada pointed out that “if we expand the debate too much, we may not be able to accommodate His Majesty’s wishes.” An LDP House of Representatives member noted that since the Emperor mentioned that “the 30th Year of Heisei is two years from now,” he probably wants a decision to be made within two years.

 

Meanwhile, People’s Life Party co-chair Ichiro Ozawa did not give any specific comments on grounds that “this is an issue relating to the Emperor’s status, so politicians should not make any careless comments.”

 

Lower House Speaker Tadamori Oshima issued a statement saying: “As the head of the legislature, I accept the message solemnly. I hope that people from all walks of life will discuss a vision for the Imperial Family and that Diet members will deal with this issue with reverence.”

 

House of Councillors President Chuichi Date also observed in his statement that he expects an in-depth discussion on a vision for the Imperial Household from now on.

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