Japan Monarchy

Topics: Emperor of Japan, Japan, Monarchy Pages: 2 (697 words) Published: May 6, 2012
The Japanese monarchy is one of the oldest monarchies in the world, and as of today it is a constitutional monarchy. In modern-day Japan, the monarchy is, according to the constitution of Japan, ‘a symbol of the state and unity of the people’. Unlike China, Japan, at least officially, has had only one dynasty since the beginning of time (Beasley, 1999). There is a pattern followed in China’s where each dynasty has a stage of empire building, a stage of power or glory, and finally, a stage of decline. This pattern, however, is not apparent in Japan. The monarchy of Japan essentially consists of one dynasty going through a single cycle, which is by definition incomplete. The first two stages of the cycle have been comparable to that of China, but the third, that of decline, has been a long, drawn out and different in character. The Emperors of Japan began their kingship on the basis of political economy and agrarian, cosmology of wet-rice agriculture (Emiko-Ohnuki-Tierney, 2003). The Ojin Emperor established his Yamato state near present day Osaka and through time, the ‘ancient kingdom’ as it was called went through significant developments until its political, economic and symbolic bases became firmly established. The Japanese ‘ancient kingship’ reached its zenith during the eighth century, and after that lost its power, never to regain it for a very long time. The rise of the warrior clans meant political and military power was transferred to the Shoguns and their courts, especially during the Tokugawa Era, and the emperors were soon relegated to no more than the symbolic power of officiating at rice harvest rituals. From about the tenth century onwards, Japanese emperors lost much of their power but retained their throne as well as a measure of influence, by virtue of a quasi-religious function rooted in the distant past The overthrow of the last shogun from the Tokugawa family in 1868, paved the way for the Meiji Restoration and opened a new chapter in the...
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