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Modern Emperors of Japan II
The Succession Crisis
The Yamato dynasty is also the longest—by nearly any calculation—monarchic line in the world.
The Chrysanthemum Throne of the Empire of Japan is the only one that uses the title "Emperor" at this writing (2018). At one time in the 14th century, there were two emperors, an anomaly that was only resolved by civil war. The Japanese monarchy's origins in 660 BC are shrouded in mythology. The first emperor of a Japanese Empire, Jimmu, tradition holds, was a descendant of the goddess Amaterasu.
The first Japanese emperor with a provable historical existence was the Kinmei Emperor (539-571).
Most westerners misunderstand the personal divinity of the Emperors and Empresses of Japan. They are not gods in the Abrahamic sense of an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful deity. Rather, they are conduits for the divine in the Shinto faith. Divine or not, the current Reiwa Emperor (reginal name) Naruhito (personal name) is the grandson of the Showa (reginal and posthumous name), Emperor Hirohito. The current secession is based on primogeniture, but before the Household Law of 1886 it was much looser: there have been at least nine empresses of Japan's ruling in their own right.
Legally, the emperors of Japan have never had a great deal of power.
Even after the Meiji Emperor took a personal interest in the running of his country as a young man in the 1860s, his power was nebulous. He attended ceremonies, made heirs to the throne (which after 1889 Household Law passed the Diet, was a requirement), issued rescripts of great and small importance, and waited on his family. Arguably, when the Showa Emperor directed his government to accept the Potsdam Declaration on 10 August 1945, he exercised more temporal power than any of his ancestors ever had, or his heirs ever will.
Before 2007, there was a crisis in the succession.
The Constitution of 1947, which left the old Household Law unchanged, did not provide for empresses and did not provide for a regency. The Showa had two sons, Akihito and Masahito. Akihito also had two sons: Naruhito (the current emperor) and Fumahito. However, Naruhito had only a daughter before Fumahito had a son in 2006, Hisahito.
This first male birth in 41 years assured—for the moment—the succession to the Chrysanthemum Throne.
The Heisei Emperor Akihito retired on 30 April 2019 and become known as the Daijo Tenno, Joko, or Emperor Emeritus. While the succession was clear, it was not clear that the 84-year-old man could legally leave office—even a ceremonial one. On 11 June 2017, the Diet approved a law that allowed him to retire/resign/abdicate. Critics, however, say that adherence to the old Household Law only delays the inevitable, that a return to older ways or abolition of the Imperial house altogether would be a better long-term solution. But the critics miss the point of Japan's monarchy: the throne provides a continuity that no other institution in Japan can.
While issues of succession before 1945 were not part of our story, the succession was very much on the Showa’s mind before he made the Jewel Recording.
The Showa realized the military could kill him when he made the recording; he knew the succession to his son, Akihito, was not assured. Somewhere between thirty and three hundred people died ensuring that Japan made the Jewel Broadcast. But no assassins came close enough to threaten the Emperor.
Crop Duster: A Novel of World War Two
John Deere and his Steel Plow
On 29 April:
1945: Adolph Hitler married Eva Braun in his bunker in Berlin. By all accounts, Braun acted like a new bride, even signing her maiden name to the license before scratching it out. The happy couple handed cyanide pills out as bridal gifts, since the Russians were less than 700 yards away and would fight their way to the bunker in two days.
1990: Authorities in Berlin began the demolition of the Berlin Wall. Though they had breached it in many places, the Wall stood as a symbol of the disunity that Germans no longer felt, if they ever felt it.
And today is NATIONAL ZIPPER DAY, in commemoration of the invention of the interlocking slide fastener that was first patented in the United States on this day in 1913. The marvel got its popular nickname from the sound it made, first coined at the BF Goodrich Company in 1923.