Jake Adelstein*2 “Only a cruel despot would stop Japan’s emperor from retiring” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/11/japanese-emperor-akihito-has-feelings-too
After a lifetime of selfless service and of battling illness and frailty, the emperor is, in effect, asking for some mercy and compassion for himself and his family. What cruel despot could possibly deny him the rest and retirement he deserves? The current prime minister might. Abdication and the debate and legal revision it would require stands in the way of Abe’s burning desire to alter the constitution, limit civil liberties and make state shinto a centrepiece of civil society again.
Akihito’s words about the duty of being a good emperor are, in my opinion, his own way of reminding Japan’s leaders to think less about themselves – and more about the welfare of the people. It’s a lesson the prime minister could certainly learn.
Akihito’s compassion and humility are, by contrast, much appreciated by the people, with most polls showing that 80% or more believe he should be allowed to abdicate the throne.
Public support for his desire to abdicate may, as Devin Stewart*3 – an expert on modern Japan at the Carnegie Council – has noted, reflect much broader social changes. “Japan is gradually becoming a more flexible and individualistic, less traditional society. Paradoxically, that also means that people feel they should be able to spend more time with their families (a traditional value) as well as more time pursuing hobbies and being rested and healthy.”
The emperor and his wife have also made a point of looking after poor people, disabled people and even the Korean-Japanese or Zainichi – many of whom arrived in Japan as slave labour and are routinely blamed for economic woes and openly harassed. The new governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, along with several other cabinet ministers handpicked by Abe, have been associated with Zaitokukai, a political group accused of inciting hostility towards all foreigners, and Korean-Japanese in particular.
*2:See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20100705/1278260670 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20130220/1361380789 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20140626/1403716598 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20141120/1416410691 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150218/1424283180 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20151224/1450925772
*4:http://www.yuriko.or.jp/ Mentioned in http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20061121/1164082739 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20091201/1259683304 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150213/1423756575 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150307/1425718006 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160705/1467732606 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160720/1468983337 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160722/1469152379 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160801/1470018564 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160804/1470275454