The role of the Japanese emperor: Theory and reality
This thesis evaluates and defines the role of the Japanese emperor. Though the emperor theoretically maintained a variety of roles in Japanese history, in reality he has only held a symbolic role. The emperor has been and continues to be a living link with Japan's historical past. Japan's sentiments toward the emperor system have evolved from mysticism to affinity. Since the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the emperor has served as a buffer against the pain Japan has undergone in three different eras of radical transition. In the Meiji era, it was the pain caused by the rapid change from a feudal society to a modern one. In the postwar era, it was the pain of rebuilding a devastated nation. In the Heisei era, it is the pain of economic woes and the turmoil created in Japan as it seeks to understand its role in a changing world.