“I swear that I will act according to the Constitution and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people of Japan, while always turning my thoughts to the people and standing with them.”
Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito’s remark during a ceremony for his ascension to the throne is interpreted as a message that he will sincerely abide by the Article 1 of Japan’s constitution that stipulates, “The Emperor shall be the symbol of the State and of the unity of the People, deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power.”
Japanese media are reporting heavily on the human side of the new emperor. On Wednesday, NHK visited an ordinary restaurant in Tokyo’s Toyoshima district which Naruhito frequented during his school years, reporting that he often enjoyed potato gratin, fried chicken and whisky with five or six of his friends. One of his acquaintance said that in his school says when Naruhito went to restaurants with his friends, he tried not to show his face to restaurant owners. He wanted to have ordinary and regular food, thinking that restaurant owners would not serve him such dishes if they had known his identity.”
Japan’s constitution also limits the emperor’s “symbolic roles,” stipulating that he “shall perform only such acts in matters of state as are provided for in this Constitution and he shall not have powers related to government.” He cannot make any decision on state affairs on his own without the Cabinet’s advice and approval. “While South Koreans expect the Japanese emperor to check the Cabinet, it is almost impossible,” said Tadashi Kimiya, a professor at Tokyo University.