Essay on The Future of the Chrysanthemum Throne

Essay on The Future of the Chrysanthemum Throne

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The Japanese Imperial family traces their lineage back to 660 B.C. Present ruler, Emperor Akihito claims the throne as the 125th emperor to sit on the Chrysanthemum Throne (Forty). Over the centuries, the monarchy has endured various periods of tribulation and doubt, including facing its uncertain future at the conclusion of WWII. The 21st century has brought a new problem. The family finds itself in increasingly short supply of male heirs to continue the lineage that has lasted centuries. The succession problems facing the Imperial family are daunting, but not without solutions.
The Japanese people have long believed the Emperor to be divine, descended from the Sun Goddess herself. The position has remained largely symbolic throughout history, with the exception of the decades leading up to and through the 1940s. “The Japanese constitution, instituted in May 1947, after World War II, demoted the Emperor from a ‘living god’ to a ‘symbol of the state’ and a ‘unifier of the people’” (Hays). Though not always seen as such, this was a return to the more traditional Japanese model. When the late Emperor Hirohito renounced his divinity after WWII, “he was careful not to deny that he was a descendant of the Sun Goddess. Without that he would have no claim to the throne” (Hays). The Emperor holds a significant religious importance independent of his role in state proceedings. This divine, religious influence gives bloodlines an extreme importance. “Until the 1920s, the royal line was sustained through a system of concubinage” (Hays) when legal wives could not produce. After the wife of Emperoro Hirohito, Empress Nagako, gave birth to four girls, some considered reinstating the old practice. Considerations of this reversal ceased whe...


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Hidehiko, Kasahara. "Issues for Japan’s Imperial Family." . Nippon.com, 5 Mar. 2012. Web. 18 May 2014. .
Jones, Colin P. A.. "And then there was one?: Japan's right royal crisis." Japan Times RSS. The Japan Times, 17 Jan. 2012. Web. 18 May 2014. .
McCurry, Justin. "Baby boy ends 40-year wait for heir to chrysanthemum throne." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 6 Sept. 2006. Web. 18 May 2014. .
McNeill, David, and Herbert P. Bix. "Trouble at the Top: Japan's Imperial Family in Crisis." Trouble at the Top: Japan's Imperial Family in Crisis :: JapanFocus. Japan Focus, n.d. Web. 18 May 2014. .

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