Buraku Liberation News  May 2000 No.114

Prime Minister Mori Makes Controversial Remarks Infringing the Constitution.

"Japan is a Divine Nation with the Emperor at its Core."

In May 2000 Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori made the comment at a gathering of Shinto-influenced politicians that Japan is a nation of the Gods with the Emperor as its core. The remark sparked outrage among opposition parties and civic groups.

The prime Minister denied having said anything wrong, explaining that the comments did not contradict the people's sovereign rights and did not aim at promoting certain religions. He added that he did not imply that the Emperor is a living God, a status State Shinto accorded the monarch until after the end of World War.

The remarks revived memories of wartime ideology. State Shinto was the official religion of Imperial Japan. Followers of other religions were subjected to persecution. State Shinto lost its official status when the postwar constitution, guaranteeing freedom of religion and separation of government and religion, was promulgated in May 1947.

In spite of protests from many organizations and people over the remarks, including the Buraku Liberation League, the Prime Minister basically has been trying to defend his speech.

The following is an excerpt of the BLL's statement on the remarks.

BLL's Statement on the Prime Minister's Remarks

On May 15 Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori made a speech clearly infringing the Constitution of Japan, at a gathering of politicians celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Shinto-influenced association to which they belong.

In the preamble of the Constitution promulgated with remorse that Japan had waged a war of aggression, it is stated, "Government is a sacred trust of the people, the authority for which is derived from the people, the powers of which are exercised by the representatives of the people, and the benefits of which are enjoyed by the people. This is a universal principle of mankind upon which this Constitution is founded. We reject and revoke all constitutions, laws, ordinances, and rescripts in conflict herewith."

In addition, Article 1 stipulates, "the Emperor shall be the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people, deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power." It means that the Emperor as a symbol of Japan should be compatible with the principle of the people's sovereign rights.

However, Prime Minister Mori said, "We would like all the Japanese people to firmly understand that Japan is a nation of Gods with the Emperor as its core."

We believe that this remark implies an outright denial of the people's sovereignty, suggesting the revival of monarchy and a divine emperor.

Article 20 stipulates, "Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all. No religious organization shall receive any privileges from the State, nor exercise any political authority. No person shall be compelled to take part in any religious act, celebration, rite, or practice. The State and its organs shall refrain from religious education or any other religious activity."

In spite of this stipulation in the constitution, Prime Minister Mori said, "Religion is a culture dwelling in the hearts of individuals. Why are we not able to advocate more educational activities so that all of us can value such an idea."

He added, "Considering the spirit of the existing constitution, I think it is quite important to express this idea whether at school, in society or at home."

This statement clearly denies the freedom of religion and separation of government and religion guaranteed by Article 20.

As known to all, Article 99 stipulates that the Emperor or the Regent, as well as Ministers of the State, members of the Diet, judges, and all other public officials have the obligation to respect and uphold this Constitution.

The Prime Minister, as head of the administration, should take the lead in abiding by this article and should not neglect the constitution.

The said argument of the Prime Minister is aimed at strengthening the state power centering on the Emperor by explicitly denying the constitution.

We cannot see any sense of remorse in this argument with regards to Japan's war of aggression and consequent discrimination and oppression at home as well as outside Japan.

Therefore, the Buraku Liberation League strongly protests these remarks and requests that Prime Minister Mori withdraw them and apologize to people at home and abroad. In addition, we request that he clarify his responsibility over the remarks.

May 22, 2000

Buraku Liberation League

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