As expected, the Upper House of Japan’s parliament has reprimanded lawmaker Taro Yamamoto for breaching protocol of the Imperial family when he tried to involve Emperor Akihito in politics by handing him a letter at a garden party last week. The actor-turned-politician said he simply wanted to express his sentiments to the emperor about nuclear power, being a staunch anti-nuclear activist.
“Always keep in mind that you are a lawmaker and do nothing to dirty the name of parliament,” was the stern warning issued to him by the Upper House. He is also barred from attending any events where any member of the Imperial Family will be present. It may seem strange for people outside of Japan to see a lawmaker punished for giving a letter to the Emperor, but that is one taboo that people feel should not be broken. Even if the Emperor is now just a symbolic ruler for the country, many people still feel strongly about involving him in politics, particularly in such a divisive issue like nuclear energy.
A magazine poll of 1,100 readers showed that 90% of the respondents disapproved of his action. Some, even his fellow lawmakers, have called for his resignation as they say his actions do not fit that of a politician. The Imperial Household Agency has also strongly criticized Yamamoto, saying his actions were “inappropriate” and that it was a matter of common sense.
While Yamamoto apologized for “worrying His Majesty” earlier this week, he refused to resign, even as he was unaware that his actions would have such repercussions for him. The last time someone handed a letter to the Emperor was more than a century ago, when a former lawmaker was protesting the industrial pollution caused by a copper mine. Yamamoto should consider himself lucky as that man was arrested on the spot. However, it was because of his actions that a citizens’ movement was born on the issue.
[ via Thomson Reuters ]