print PRINT


Editorial: Emperor makes steady steps forward amid challenging start to new era

Friday marked the first anniversary of the enthronement of the Emperor. The Reiwa era has started with challenging hardships such as disasters and an infectious disease.


Under such circumstances, the Emperor has steadily carried out his various official duties, including ceremonies concerning the Imperial succession. Although concerns have arisen over her health, the Empress has also been attending ceremonies and events with the Emperor.


In December last year, the Emperor and Empress visited Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which had suffered serious damage from Typhoon No. 19, to encourage residents affected by flooding. They offered warm words to the afflicted and firmly grasped the hands of people who extended them to be shaken.


When the Emperor was enthroned one year ago, he said, “I shall act according to the Constitution and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people of Japan while always turning my thoughts to the people and standing by them.” It can be said that he is sincerely putting such words into practice.


The spread of the new coronavirus, which has continued to spread since the start of the year, has cast a shadow over Imperial events.


A state visit by the Emperor and Empress to Britain scheduled for this spring was postponed. This would have been their first trip abroad since the Emperor’s enthronement. It was regrettable as the visit to Britain would have given the Emperor, who studied abroad as a university student, an opportunity to deepen relations with the British royal family.


This year’s spring Imperial garden party, in which the Emperor and Empress pleasantly chat with athletes and other distinguished guests from various fields, was cancelled. A national tree-planting ceremony in Shimane Prefecture, which the Imperial couple had planned to attend together, was postponed for one year.


There would surely have been many people looking forward to interacting with the Emperor and Empress at these events.


In April, the Emperor received a personal briefing from Shigeru Omi, the deputy chair of the government’s expert panel on measures against infectious diseases.


During their meeting, the Emperor said that he wanted to convey his deepest respect for the efforts of the many people involved in medical activities and others working night and day on the frontlines. His words convey his feeling of gratitude for the health-care personnel who are working to save the lives of the patients.


In order to keep the infection from spreading, it is necessary for each individual to steadily make an effort, such as refraining from going outside.


Due to the spread of the infection, the Rikkoshi-no-Rei ceremonies to proclaim Crown Prince Akishino’s ascension to the first line to the throne were delayed.


The ceremonies were expected to be attended by many invited people. But the postponement was unavoidable.


Initially, the debate on ensuring a stable succession of the Imperial throne and the creation of female Imperial branches was scheduled to get into full swing after the the Rikkoshi-no-Rei ceremonies. However, following the delay of the ceremonies, those deliberations are likely to be put off as well.


The number of male members of the Imperial family with the right to assume the Imperial throne is now just three. The debate on how the Imperial family should exist is an important issue that cannot be avoided. It is hoped that the government will proceed with the discussions while making efforts to obtain the understanding of the people.


— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on May 1, 2020.

  • Ambassador
  • Ukraine
  • COVID-19
  • Trending Japan