Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/155246
Title: ABDICATION OF JAPAN'S SYMBOL EMPEROR: A SYNOPTIC AND CROSS-NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
Authors: LEE SUE LING, NAOMI HASHIMOTO
Keywords: Abdication
Symbol Emperor
Japan
Monarchy
Constitution
Akihito
Heisei
Floating signifier
United Kingdom
Netherlands
Issue Date: 12-Apr-2019
Citation: LEE SUE LING, NAOMI HASHIMOTO (2019-04-12). ABDICATION OF JAPAN'S SYMBOL EMPEROR: A SYNOPTIC AND CROSS-NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The announcement of Emperor Akihito’s abdication in August 2016 shocked Japan and the world. Not a single Japanese emperor had abdicated the throne in approximately two hundred years, as the role of the emperor in the modern day is largely seen as one of life-long duty. Taking the elite debates on Emperor Akihito’s abdication as a starting point, this thesis argues that the complicated procedure of his abdication was largely attributed to the persistence of a floating signifier – i.e. the concept of the symbol, which defines the role of the emperor in the post-war Japanese constitution. I then contend that there are two main interpretations of the emperor’s role as a symbol: symbolic-ness as connoted by the emperor’s “existence”, or by his “performance” of public duties. Next, this thesis takes a synoptic approach in order to locate the origins of the term “symbol”. By referring to historical records and secondary work by authors such as Nakamura Masanori and Kenneth Ruoff, I identify the importance of Joseph C Grew and the British monarchy in shaping the post-war symbolic role of the emperor. In order to trace how the concept of the symbol has evolved over time, I rely on surveys to analyse public perceptions of the symbol emperor over a period of forty years, and I compare this with elite discourse to show how these two groups hold vastly different conceptions and attitudes towards the role of the symbol emperor. Lastly, this thesis also incorporates a cross-national perspective to analyse how the practice of abdication and the concept of a monarch’s symbolic-ness plays out in two other constitutional monarchies: The UK and the Netherlands.
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/155246
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses

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