私としては、このような政府の行為は日本国憲法の要請である天皇陛下の政治的利用の禁止に抵触するものであり、断じて容認できないと考え、次期通常国会をはじめとするあらゆる場において、憲法第三条に定められた内閣の責任を追及していく覚悟です。That was Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council Chairman Ishiba Shigeru, writing in his blog on December 15, 2009 about what was clearly in his mind a heinous abuse of the constitutional status and royal person of Japan's fragile 75 year-old monarch.
"For me, this kind of government action represents an infringement of the ban upon the political use of the Emperor, as set down in the Constitution. I simply cannot accept it, I am prepared, as a first order of business, to pursue, in the next regular Diet session, the Cabinet's responsibility for this infringement under Article 3 of the Constitution -- and pursue it everywhere else as well!"
What the Democratic Party of Japan-led coalition government did was ask the Imperial Household Agency to arrange a brief private chat at the Imperial Palace between His Majesty and then Vice-President of China Xi Jinping. The Agency initially rejected the government's request based upon an internal rule that all requests for Imperial audiences must be made at least 30 days in advance. The Hatoyama government had put in its application 19 days prior to the proposed meeting date. Backed by the DPJ's then Secretary-General and China Best Friend Ozawa Ichiro, the government persisted (or insisted, depending upon your politics). In the face of pressure, the Agency relented, agreeing to arrange an audience.
The government's pushing for a reversal of the Agency's decision unleashed a storm of protest from both the opposition LDP and right wing activists, an uproar abetted by Grand Steward Haketa Shingo's unprecedented public complaints about the government's actions. (Link)
Despite the acrimony, including the ultra-rightists protesting in front of the Palace (Link), the meeting went off without a hitch, with Japan emerging a big symbolic winner.
Fast forward four years. An LDP-led coalition government rules Japan. Ishiba is now Secretary-General of the LDP.
In an agreement signed in May, the Abe government confirmed its readiness to send Japan's now 79 year-old monarch and his equally frail spouse on a state visit to the healthful confines of India (Link) a visit that K. V. Kesavan alerts us, begins on November 30. (Link)
India...kind of far away...maybe kind of arduous...
Last month, Grand Steward Kazaoka Noriyuki questioned the propriety of the government's urging Princess Hisako to travel to Buenos Aires in order to shore up the Tokyo bid for the 2020 Olympics. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide gave Kazaoka a public tongue lashing for having the gall to try to divine what their Imperial Majesties were thinking about the Princess' trip. (Link)
Princess Hisako's participation led to questions from all quarters regarding the use of the Imperial institution to political ends (Link). In a development that will likely leave some scratching their heads (aren't Japan's right wingers a cabal?) arch-nationalist cartoonist Kobayashi Yoshinori blew his top -- mocking the government's official explanation that the Princess was only attending in order to thank the international community for its contributions to disaster relief and recovery in the Tohoku region. In Kobayashi's view, to see the dispatch of the Princess as anything but use of the Imperial House for political gain would be inane. (Link)
Kobayashi's being a stickler about keeping the Imperial Family above politics comes as something of a surprise. Then again, Kobayashi has been of late marching to the beat of his own drummer.
As it turns out, the decision to have Princess Hisako address the IOC congress was a masterstroke. Unlike the terrifying sing-song and presumably English-language presentations by eye candy like fencer Ota Yuki and gymnast Tanaka Rie, Princess Hisako, a Cambridge graduate and translator before she married Prince Takamado (the Prince, in his charming, off-kilter way, proposed marriage to her in English) marched through the text of her opening speech both in more-than-acceptable French and then The Queen's English.
The political taint of Princess Hisako's dispatch to Buenos Aires pales, of course, besides the government decision to have their Imperial Majesties preside over the first official commemoration of the anniversary of the end of the Allied Occupation. That celebration, fraught from the outset by the slap to the face it delivers to Okinawa (Link) descended into farce when the hopped up hyper-patriot almost exclusively LDP and Japan Restoration Party attendees hooted out a triple “Long live the Emperor!” (Tenno heika banzai!) at the clearly uncomfortable Imperial Couple. (Link)
The hypocrisy of the LDP as regards use of the Imperial House for political ends, as demonstrated by Ishiba’s dudgeon over an afternoon courtesy call at the Palace (so uncool) versus nothing but smiles about a state visit to India (What problem? I do not see any problem) is emblematic of a greater trend. Having the budget under the DPJ government stay the same size but emphasize temporary support for citizens over the permanent laying of concrete ? That's baramaki ("pork barrel politics"). Passing huge supplementary spending bills and reconstituting the funding for the wasteful Construction State? That is setting up the basic conditions for economic expansion. The DPJ's prime minister not visiting Yasukuni? The mark of a squirming, China-coddling, disloyal mindset. Prime Minister Abe's not visiting Yasukuni? The mark of a mature, realistic ethos in the LDP and the Cabinet.
For issue after issue -- expansionist monetary and fiscal policy, ambitious plans for a greater acceptance of women in the workplace, delays in restarting nuclear power plants, tossing the interests of the agriculture sector to the wolves in Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations -- the progressive policies are being promoted and instituted by what is the regressive party, and indeed the most regressive members of that party. Give the DPJ power, and these same policy initiatives would be hacked down from behind by the very persons currently implementing and promoting them.
So the LDP's electoral slogan "Japan, Let's Take It Back" (Nippon o, torimodosu!)? Not really descriptive of the Abe government's and the LDP's current trajectory.
I have a suggestion:
"Hypocrisy? Just Let Us Get Away With It!"