Tuesday, August 9, 2016

What To Do With A Retired God?

Emperor Akhito of Japan wants to abdicate.

Which is something of a problem since the His job title of Tenno translates as "heavenly sovereign."  That isn't just a bit of rhetorical flourish.

 During Akhito's lifetime his own father Hirohito was revered as a living god.  He was considered personally divine and as such his body was considered holy and inviolate.  Every school room had a portrait of him that was covered by a curtain.  On special occasions the curtain would be drawn and woe upon any Japanese child that tried to sneak a peak when their heads were pressed to the floor.

The revered 82-year-old emperor's comments came in only his second-ever televised address to the public.

Emperor Akihito did not explicitly say he wanted to abdicate as he is barred from making political statements.

PM Shinzo Abe said the government would take the remarks "seriously" and discuss what could be done.

"Upon reflecting how he handles his official duty and so on, his age and the current situation of how he works, I do respect the heavy responsibility the emperor must be feeling and I believe we need to think hard about what we can do," he said.

Akihito, who has had heart surgery and was treated for prostate cancer, has been on the throne in Japan since the death of his father, Hirohito, in 1989.

In his 10-minute pre-recorded message, he said he had "started to reflect" on his years as as emperor, and contemplate his position in the years to come.

In case you are asking yourself what the big deal is? Well the problem is there is zero precedent for an abdication in Japan.  There is no law covering it.  And zero tradition to back it up.    In the past they were murdered, sure but none of them ever actually quit before.  They always died in office.

So what do you do with a retired god?

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