Go to contents

Abe participates even in Amaterasu Omikami ceremony

Posted October. 04, 2013 08:27,   


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe participated Wednesday in a traditional ceremony taking place every 20 years in Ise Grand Shrine located in the city of Ise in Mie Prefecture. Ise Grand Shrine is a temple hosting a memorial ceremony dedicated to Amaterasu Omikami, a deity of Japan’s royal family and a head temple of State Shinto (a state religion of the Empire of Japan), which served as a mental foundation for Japan’s starting an aggressive war. Criticisms are arising that a visit to this temple violates the nation’s constitution, which indicates the separation of state and religion, in the same context for Yasukuni Shrine.

According to Japanese media reports Thursday, Prime Minister Abe joined the ceremony in Ise Grand Shrine with officials including Vice Prime Minister Taro Aso and Abe`s wife Akie.

In the Amaterasu Omikami ceremony, which takes place every two decades, “sacred objects,” such as mirrors, swords and ornaments, are moved to a new shrine, which is built on a regular basis. Its meaning is to pursue eternity through rejuvenation while handing down temple-building techniques to descendents. The ceremony in Ise Grand Shrine is said to have started about 1,300 years ago in 690, but marks the 62nd anniversary this year due to several discontinuations.

It is the first time for an incumbent Japanese prime minister participated in the ceremony since 1929 when then-Prime Minister Osachi Hamaguchi visited there. The reason that it has been 84 years, not 80 years, is because the 59th ceremony supposed to be held in 1949 was postponed to 1953 in the aftermath of World War II.

Hisashi Yamanaka, a children’s book writer, criticized this in his article in the Asahi Shimbun by saying that “Ise Grand Shrine was the head temple of fundamentalism pursuing a state system based on the unity of state and religion (a state system under the Emperor of Japan) and Abe’s behavior is clearly a return to the pre-war era.” As controversy arises, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga explained that the prime minister “participated (in the ceremony) in his private capacity.” The diplomatic circle now eyes on whether the prime minister will also visit the fall ceremony in Yasukuni Shrine taking place between Oct. 17 and Oct. 20.