Palace and Politics in Prewar Japan - Vol. 10

Palace and Politics in Prewar Japan - Vol. 10

Palace and Politics in Prewar Japan - Vol. 10

Palace and Politics in Prewar Japan - Vol. 10

Excerpt

ORIGINALLY THIS WAS INTENDED to be a study of the imperial institution in Japan after World War II. For three reasons it became a study of the prewar imperial institution, going back to the theory of imperial prerogative evolved during the Restoration settlement of 1868-89. First, the internal structure of the palace today is very close to what it had been from 1885 to 1945, although the emperor's constitutional role has been drastically altered. Second, there is very little information in Japanese or English about the prewar palace, its leaders, and its concrete relation to politics, despite the theoretical centrality of the imperial institution in politics. Third, the modernization of Japan between 1868 and 1945 was centrally managed; the articulated referent for modernization--political as well as economic and social--was the imperial institution.

The 1947 Constitution of Japan produced profound changes in the formal relationship between emperor and government. According to the prewar constitution of 1889, the emperor had "combined in his being the supreme rights of rule" and was consequently endowed with an immense range of constitutional prerogatives in military command, civil administration, and legislation. In the 1947 constitution, however, the people were made sovereign and the emperor was divested of all prerogatives. His constitutional position is now defined as "symbol of the State and of the unity of the people." The Prime Minister is no longer appointed by the emperor; he is "designated from among the members of the Diet by a resolution of . . .

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