Ningen-sengen

From Academic Kids

On New Year's Day, 1946, the Showa Emperor issued an imperial rescript, which is called Shin-Nippon kensetsu ni kan suru shōsho (新日本建設に関する詔書, lit. "Imperial Rescript on the Construction of a New Japan") and Nentō, kokuun shinkō no shōsho (年頭、国運振興の詔書 lit. "Imperial Rescript on the Promotion of the National Fate") in a formal situation, but is commonly known as Ningen-sengen (人間宣言 lit. "humanity declaration").

Delivery of this speech was to be one of Hirohito's last acts as the imperial sovereign. The Supreme Commander Allied Powers and the Western world in general gave great attention to the following passage:

The ties between Us and Our people have always stood upon mutual trust and affection and do not depend upon mere legends and myths. They are not predicated on the false conception that the Emperor is divine, and that the Japanese people are superior to other races and fated to rule the world.

According to the popular Western view, the speech challenged the centuries-old claim that he and those before him were descendants of the sun goddess Amaterasu, and thus the Emperor had now publicly admitted that he was not a living god. However, the meaning of the exact contents — delivered in convoluted and archaic court Japanese nearly incomprehensible to the common man — have been the subject of much debate. In particular, the key phrase akitsumikami (現御神), usually glossed as "divinity" in English but literally "manifest kami", is unclear. It should, however, be noted that immediately after this repudiation of divinity, he implicitly reaffirmed it by asking the occupation authorities for permission to worship an ancestress and then worshipping the Sun Goddess; this reaffirmation would have been comprehensible to all Japanese though not necessarily by the occupation authorities.

Critics of their interpretation, including the Emperor himself, argue that it was not the point. Since this rescript starts with a full quote from the Five Charter Oath of 1868 by the Meiji Emperor, the Emperor's true intention was that Japan had already been democratic in the Meiji era and was not democratized by the occupiers. As was clarified at a press interview of August 23, 1977, the Emperor wanted the Japanese people not to forget pride in Japan.

This rescript is said to have been drafted by Reginald Horace Blyth, who also contributed to the popularization of Zen and Haiku outside Japan.

See also

External links

ja:新日本建設に関する詔書

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