Monday, August 8, 2016

What's Japanese for 'Quiiiiteeerr!'?

So what's up with the Emperor of Japan? And furthermore, did you know that Japan still has an Emperor? I know, right? Anyway, check it out. Emperor Akihito went on Japanese TV today to talk about how he's getting up there in years and he'd sure like to retire soon and what's wrong with teenagers these days?
"What with the rap music and wearing their dungarees too low.
It's disrespectful if you ask me. And all that swearing?"
-Emperor Akihito, just so
over the whole Emperor thing
The Japanese Imperial Palace's
gaping chasm is just off the veranda.
Yeah, he wants to retire, which apparently isn't a thing Emperors in Japan are supposed to be able to do under the Japanese constitution. The only way out for him is to die or become seriously incapacitated. Thanks to Japan's healthcare system and the fact that he's the political equivalent of an indoor cat, the Emperor is pretty good shape for an 83 year-old. Also, since the throne room lacks the thousand-story, open chasm typical of most Imperial living spaces, the chances of a disgruntled subordinate chucking him to a fiery doom are on the slim side.

Above: The Emperor of Japan carrying
out his duty as the symbol of the State.
"I am already 80 years old, and fortunately I am now in good health. However, when I consider that my fitness level is gradually declining, I am worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the State with my whole being as I have done until now."

-Akihito, on not being able to keep up with
all his Emperor duties, like, uh...waving?
sorry to be a jerk, but what does he do?

Pictured: Prince Chalres and his mother
the Queen know, I'm not sure I
like the way he's looking at her...
According to my exhaustive research of Wikipedia, historically the Japanese Emperor has been anything from 'a living god' to 'the shogun's puppet,' but after the 1947 constitution, they're been figureheads whose jobs include opening the Diet (it's their Parliament), shaking hands with foreign diplomats, and the aforementioned waving. The problem is that there's no abdication option and since the Emperor is supposed to be a-political, the best he can do is go on TV sand say 'wouldn't it be swell if I could retire?' and hope to hell that the Prime Minister does something about it.

Holy shit, Japan has right-wing lunatics too
In a weird way, I'm glad it's not just us.
Legally, the Diet can vote to change the rules although it would take a couple of years. On the upside, polls show that people in Japan overwhelmingly support changing the constitution so that the Emperor can hand it over to the next in line, but according to the Japan Times, many right-wing nationalist groups oppose any change to the constitution. And really, since when has listening to nationalists ever turned out badly for Japan? Oh, right, well except for that one time.

 Well, I suppose Japan's Emperor
isn't linked to diabetes, but other
 than that, what's the difference?
Ok, as a non-Japanese person, I have exactly zero stake in how they run their archipelago but as an American, I'm going to go ahead and chime in anyway. Japan is a modern country with bullet trains and video games about magical monster cock-fights (Pokémon, what did you think I meant?), so it's kind of weird that they still have this relic of feudalism cluttering up their political system. But on the other hand, people like traditions and national symbols and that's cool. I mean, we have the Statue of Liberty and I don't know, Coke, while Japan has Godzilla and a waving octogenarian.

Look, the point, if I have one, is that Emperor Akihito has been a living symbol of Japan his entire life and now he just wants to retire and watch TV or drive around in an RV or whatever, so like, why not give the guy a break?
Above: The Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Just look at all
that lawn, telling kids to get off it has to be a full time job.

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