History will be made in October this year when Emperor Hirohito of Japan visits Europe.?
History will be made in October this year when Emperor Hirohito of Japan visits Europe. It will be the first time that a reigning Emperor has set foot outside Japan, breaking a tradition going back 2,600 years. Accompanied by the Empress, Emperor Hirohito will spend two weeks visiting Belgium, West Germany and Britain as State guests. The only other time the Emperor has left Japan was in 1921, when as crown Prince he toured Europe for six months. This profile of his Imperial Majesty includes film of this last visit, when he met king George V. In the only press conference the Emperor has ever given, he said that the happiest time of his life had been his visit to England, and he has often expressed the wish to return.
But few expected him to violate the unwritten law against foreign travel. The journey was made possible, however, by the change in status of the Emperor of Japan that resulted from defeat in the Second World War. Previously, the 2,600-year-old imperial line was seen as a line of divine beings. Until the end of World War II, no ordinary parson dared to look at the Emperor. The pre-war Imperial constitution described the Emperor as "sacred and inviolable".
In the post-war constitution accepted by the Japanese at the behest of the American victors, the divine status of the Emperor was gone. He was described in this constitution as "the symbol of the state and unity of the people, deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power." The Emperor had become a titular ruling Head of State. Hirohito, born a God, began to publish books on marine biology.
The final step making a journey abroad technically possible was a law in 1964 authorising Crown Prince Akihito to act in his father's absence. The trip is creating enormous interest in Japan. In ancient times, Emperors occasionally retired and were then free to leave the country. This has led to speculation that Emperor Hirohito may be preparing to step down after 44 years on the throne.
SYNOPSIS: New Years Day of 1969..... this was the first time in six years that the Royal Family of Japan appeared in public in the courtyard of the Imperial Palace. But it's only very recently that the Japanese Emperors have come even as near as this to the people. It's Emperor Hirohito who has brought about the dramatic changeover from the Japanese Divine ruler to an ordinary Head of State. Now he's taking yet another steep away from tradition In October this year, Emperor Hirohito will visit Europe. This visit will make history. It'll be the first time ever.... that's in the 2,600 years of the Imperial line... that a reigning Japanese Emperor will have set foot outside Japan. Hirohito, however, has been abroad once before. That was as Crown Prince, in 1921.
This encounter with the Prince of Wales when visiting the British fleet at Spithaad made a great impression on him. He was astonished at the degree of freedom the Prince of Wales had, so different from the cloistered existence he had led since childhood.
Hirohito met the Prime Minister, Lloyd George, and King George V. But he also rode on London buses and on the underground train system Emperor Hirohito never forgot the contrast with his position in Japan, where the Imperial line was seen as Divine beings, and ordinary people turned their heads away rather than look straight at him.
The God-like awe with which the Emperor was seen by his people changed after the second World-War - by his own which. Scenes like this became possible. For thousands of years, such familiarity would have put the commoners in jail.
Hirohito was the first Emperor ever to experience defeat and surrender in war. It was Hirohito who announced over the radio in 1945 that Japan had surrendered. For most people, this was the first time they had heard the Emperor's voice. In January, 1946, he renounced the Emperor's claim to divinity; and the postwar constitution gave the Emperor a non-executive role, similar to that the Queen of England.
A law in 1964 gave the Crown Prince the right to act in his father's absence, This buried for ever the inviolability of the one man, the Emperor, and also made October's trip to Europe technically possible.
Here at the imperial Palace, the Royal Family are behind a bulletproof window because the year before, in 1969, a man attacked them with steel balls. But in general, the opening-up of the Monarchy that Emperor Hirohito has insisted upon has endeared hi??? to his people.