Tokyo, May 7 (Jiji Press) — The Japanese Communist Party has issued a rare congratulatory message on new Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement at the beginning of this month, in an apparent sign of a softening of its stance against the Imperial Institution.
The statement was released by JCP leader Kazuo Shii on Wednesday, the day of the new Emperor’s accession to the throne. At a press conference on Tuesday, Akira Koike, head of the party’s secretariat, said, “We just celebrate as he assumed the throne.”
The congratulatory message offered a stark contrast to the party’s statement in response to the death of then Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa, in January 1989, which was followed by the enthronement of Emperor Akihito, who abdicated at the end of last month.
In the 1989 statement, the party condemned the late Emperor as the one who bore the biggest responsibility for Japan’s aggression during World War II.
The JCP has been recently urged by other opposition parties to take some action on the Imperial Institution, in a bid to facilitate cooperation among opposition parties ahead of a House of Councillors election this summer.
The JCP, established in 1922, adopted a mission statement in 1961 calling for the abolition of the monarchy.
In 2004, the party revised the statement, saying that whether to maintain the emperor system “should be decided by the will of the majority of the people in future, when the time is ripe to do so.”
Still, the party abstained from attending meetings of both chambers of the Diet earlier this year to adopt statements celebrating the 30th anniversary of the enthronement of the previous Emperor, who currently holds the title of Emperor Emeritus.