1947: Japan hails the new Constitution
100 YEARS AGO
Tuesday, May 16, 1922
First public women’s political rally organized under new law
Following the announcement of the law passed by the last session of the Imperial Diet giving Japanese women the privilege of attending political meetings, a law enacted on May 10, a thousand or more women attended and participated in the first ever held women’s public political meeting in Tokyo at the Central Buddhist Hall, Kanda, yesterday afternoon. The meeting was held under the auspices of the New Women’s Association of Tokyo.
From the start, the female speakers were continuously interrupted by men in the audience, men belonging to the more radical socialist and anarchist elements, it was said, who thus wished to impress the women with the non-importance of politics in relation to “live”. ” action. “Speak louder! Get another speaker! You have it all wrong ! Don’t smile! These were some of the warnings and comments uttered aloud by men from various parts of the room.
There were, however, supporters for women, and cries came immediately from other male throats: “Shut up, you fool!” You couldn’t do better! Have some sympathy, can’t you see it’s a woman talking. Sometimes polemics developed in the audience in such a way that the light voice of the female speaker was drowned out and had to cease until the argument was won by one or other of the bearded opponents in the room. Several times a man from the audience came up to the stage and told the noisy switches what he thought of them, which was received with good humor.
75 YEARS AGO
Sunday, May 4, 1947
Japan welcomes the new Constitution; the leader received a huge ovation
Several thousand Japanese welcomed the new Constitution in the freezing rain by affectionately harassing the Emperor while a band played “Stars and Stripes Forever”.
Appearing for less than three minutes, the Sovereign stole the show during the solemn inauguration ceremonies of the new Constitution which relegates him to the rank of “symbol of the State”.
As he left the official grandstand in the Imperial Square and got into his brown car to drive a few hundred meters to his palace, thousands of people broke off the restraint ropes and surrounded his car shouting “Banzai “. The sedan weaved its way through the solid wall of the people, entered through the palace’s Sakashita gate, then paused for a moment on an inner deck in full view of the crowd for a final ovation.
All the while, a Japanese marching band – apparently following the official program – continued with the famous American march.
The Emperor reached the speakers’ platform facing the standing subject at 11 o’clock. Solemnly, he walks to the front of the dais. For a moment the Emperor and the subjects stood face to face in mutual silence.
Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida then approached the microphone and offered three “Banzai!” for the Emperor — a customary salute. A roar sounded from the approximately 5,000 people who raised both hands to the sky while shouting.
50 YEARS AGO
Monday, May 15, 1972
Okinawa joins Japan
Okinawa, the million-strong island chain that the United States has ruled for 27 years, was reunited with Japan at midnight on Sunday, paving the way for official reversion ceremonies today in Tokyo and Naha, the capital of Okinawa.
But the imprint left by so many years of American rule will remain, as American forces in Okinawa continue their activities, albeit under new restrictions imposed by the Japanese-American security treaty.
Concern among Okinawans about the future of their islands persists though Okinawa now stands on the threshold of a new era that promises closer integration with the Japanese mainland.
The continued US military presence in Okinawa and the shift to an economy in which the yen, instead of the dollar, will be the medium of exchange are some of the acute issues facing Okinawans.
Fears of a possible storage of nuclear weapons in Okinawa, heightened by the country’s “nuclear allergy”, remain despite US government assurances to the contrary.
The government, in an all-out effort to turn these subtropical Western Pacific islands into a “wealthy prefecture,” is determined to provide generous aid to Okinawa.
However, with the bases still playing a major role in Okinawa’s economy, observers believe the road to economic development in the islands will not be easy.
The Okinawa reversion, Prime Minister Eisaku Sato’s greatest political achievement in his more than seven years in power, also marks the end of an era in the country’s post-war politics.
25 YEARS AGO
Friday, May 9, 1997
Ainu Cultural Law is enacted
A new law aimed at preserving the Ainu culture and guaranteeing the human rights of the indigenous people of Hokkaido came into force on Thursday with its passage by the Lower House.
The law, approved by the Upper House last month, is the first national legislation to recognize the existence of an ethnic minority.
Although the law does not designate the Ainu people as an indigenous ethnic group, a resolution associated with it does.
The debate over whether the law should declare the Ainu to be indigenous has drawn the government’s attention to the fact that such a description could raise questions about indigenous rights, including rights to land. and natural resources.
The legislation replaces the controversial Hokkaido Aborigines Protection Act of 1899, which sought to assimilate the Ainu through Japanese agriculture and education.
The 15,000-member Ainu Association of Hokkaido, which has long criticized the 1899 law for depriving its people of their land and destroying their culture and traditions, proposed a bill in 1984 recognizing their right to self-determination and creating a fund to build self-reliance.
The new law, while quite different from that proposed by the group, “is significant in that the Ainu have been recognized as an ethnic group by law,” said Hiro Sasamura, the association’s leader.
Compiled by Shaun McKenna. In this article, we delve into the 125-year-old archives of the Japan Times to present a selection of stories from the past. The Japan Times archive is now available in digital format. For details, see jtimes.jp/de.
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