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The Role of the Emperor in Postwar Japan: An Analysis of Emperor Showa’s Addresses at Parliament Openings

Author: Reyhan Silingar

Source: Global Perspectives on Japan (GPJ), No.3 (2020), pp.64-87
Publisher: Forum Tauri Press
Keywords: Japanese Emperor, Showa Emperor, Parliament Openings, Discourse Analysis, Japanese Monarchy


Japan has the oldest continuous monarchy in the world. Despite the change of emperors throughout Japanese history, the question remains the same: What precisely is the role of the emperor in a highly developed country with a liberal democracy? This research will attempt to answer this continuously asked question with a discourse analysis of Emperor Showa’s addresses at the opening ceremony of the National Diet (Japanese parliament) between 1947 and 1988. By putting forward the context of the reign of the Showa emperor, one of the most controversial figures in modern times in terms of the role he is believed to have played in the decade of Japanese expansionism during WW II, this research will argue that the emperor is not a mere symbolic figurehead. This research will ultimately prove with its empirical findings that the emperor serves the collective memory of Japan by possessing an integrative power and thus contributes to the stabilization of the country.