What Does It Mean for the Emperor of Japan to Step Down?

Before Japan surrendered and conceded defeat in WWII, an emperor in Japan was regarded as a living god. Thus, the life of every single Japanese was devoted to the emperor. In other words, the Japanese people were nothing but subjects to the Emperor who was considered as a divine being.

The Emperor of Japan, Akihito

When the Americans bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki which killed more than 200,000 Japanese in both cities combined and left countless civilians disabled, the then Japanese Emperor, Hirohito realized he was not a god, let alone a living one. Obviously, there’s no such thing a dead god.

Upon Japan’s surrender in WWII, the American-led foreign Allies imposed conditions on the emperor, which forced for changes to be made to the Japanese constitution. These changes striped the emperor from all executive and political powers and rendered him a symbolic headfigure.

The post-WWII Constitution of Japan states that the emperor is “the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people.” He derives “his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power.” His role is purely symbolic and his functions are subject to cabinet approval.

The current emperor, Emperor Akihito was born on December 23, 1933, in Tokyo, Japan. He’s the eldest son of Emperor Hirohito. At the age of 19, in 1952, he was officially named heir to the Japanese throne. It’s known that he was the first member of the Imperial family to marry a commoner.

Now, at 83 years, we see the aged emperor, who took over the throne at the age of 56 is having some health issues, and he supposes, for that matter he may not be able to carry out his constitutional duties as expected. There’s a likelihood he will step down. But not until the government approves his request through constitutional considerations. This move is expected to be the only one that enables the emperor to step down.

Since the emperor (Emperor Hirohito) declared he’s no longer a “living god” and was given limited power, he and his successors started to deal with the people as their citizens rather than subjects. Now, an emperor is hoping to be allowed to step down. And that means one thing. It means a human being cannot be god. Imagine the Almighty God stepping down from being God.

Baba Salam is a lifelong seeker of knowledge, a writer and blogger. He writes here at 1BabaSalam.com. He's also the man behind GSalam.Net. He's also the founder of TVQ.Academy. You can find him on Twitter @1babasalam, Facebook @1BabaSalam, and Instagram @1BabaSalam.