The Guardian June 7, 2000


"Divine nation" brings a storm

The statement by Japan's Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori, that "Japan is a 
divine nation with the emperor at its centre" has run into a storm of 
criticism both within Japan and internationally. This statement, together 
with Japan's economic woes, are likely to result in heavy losses for 
Japan's ruling coalition government led by the Liberal Democratic Party in 
elections which are to be held on June 25.

A wide range of democratic and progressive organisations have demanded that 
Prime Minister Mori withdraw his "divine" remarks and resign.

An editorial in the newspaper of the Japanese Communist Party, 
Akahata, points out that the concept of Japan being a "divine nation 
with the emperor at its centre" violates Japan's post-war constitution 
which states that "sovereign power resides with the people." 

Prime Minister Mori has attempted to claim that his remark was merely a 
"slip of the tongue". To prove that this was not the case Akahata 
says that Prime Minister Mori has also called for the Imperial Rescript on 
Education to be revived. 

This was used as the basis for prewar school education to make the public 
praise the emperor and go blindly to war for him and give their lives to 
the emperor.

Prime Minister Mori rejects the fact that Japan committed a war of 
aggression against China and other Asian nations in the 1930s and 40s. In 
an attempt to avoid this question, he asserts that this should be "left to 
the judgement of people in the course of history."

Three opposition parties  the Japanese Communist Party, the Democratic 
Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party  have all called on Prime 
Minister Mori to resign noting that Mori has suffered a very sharp decline 
in popular support. According to recent media reports support for his 
government has slumped to about 12 per cent. To avoid a motion of no 
confidence in the Diet, Mori called a snap election.

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