以下、本稿では次のNikkei Asian Review記事から適宜引用させてもらう。

“Japan’s emperor opts for abdication”


退位特例法:special/one-time abdication law


The bill is designed to enable the abdication as a one-off, exceptional case without changing the basic framework for Imperial succession.


退位するは “abdicate”。特例法は文脈が明らかなので単に “the bill” と表現できる。皇位継承は “Imperial succession” という。


Emperor Akihito reportedly expected that the debate on his retirement would also cover such related issues as possible expansion of the role of women in the Imperial family. But the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which feared that touching on such issues could shake the traditional Japanese view of the nation, maneuvered to ensure an early conclusion of the debate without seeking any fundamental reform of the Imperial household system.


この文脈で “伝統的な国家観” とは日本が天皇の男系継承を維持してきた伝統を指す。”女性皇族の役割拡大” が、女性による皇位継承を含意するものであれば、確かに伝統に抵触する。”the traditional Japanese view of the nation” という英語表現はまどろっこしい。単に “tradition” でよいと思う。

皇族は ” the Imperial family”、皇室は “the Imperial household”、皇室制度は “the Imperial household system” という。


The emperor is different by nature from the constitutional monarchs of other countries that have royal families. It is impossible to understand Japan’s national character without comprehending this difference. The emperor was regarded as a living god until 1946.


明治以降日本は、君主が憲法の制約を受ける立憲君主国だ。立憲君主を “constitutional monarch” という。立憲君主制は “constitutional monarchy” という。これに対して憲法に制約されない絶対権力を付与された君主を絶対君主という。英語では “absolute monarch” だ。

“royal family” は例えばイギリスなら王家だが、日本では宮家と呼ぶ。現皇室には直系親族以外、宮家はない。孤独な皇室なのである。その一事だけでも “戦争責任” は十分果たされてきたように思うが、左側の人々は納得しないのだろう。


The emperor under the old Constitution was not only institutionally deified but also had enormous spiritual influence over the Japanese people. Douglas MacArthur, the commander of the U.S. Army forces in the Far East during World War II and supreme commander of the Allied powers during the postwar Allied Occupation of Japan, decided to indirectly rule Japan while maintaining the Imperial system instead of direct administration by U.S. forces.
There was heated debate among the Allied powers over whether the Imperial system should be abolished. The definition of the emperor as the national symbol was conceived as a political compromise to settle the issue.


This does not mean, however, that the emperor as the national symbol is similar in nature or function to the British monarch, who “reigns but does not rule.” In contrast, the emperor was considered a descendant of the gods.


この説明には少々悪意が感じられる。”reign but not rule” は「君主はトップにはいるけど実際の政治行政は下の人に任せる」という意味で、立憲君主制のことを指す。まるで日本は立憲君主制でないという口ぶりではないか。天皇は象徴であって君主として規定されていない以上、厳密には立憲君主制ではないのだが、実際上は諸外国から国家元首と見なされている。このようなぎくしゃくを改憲派は正したいのだろう。


In 1978, the so-called Class A war criminals, wartime Japanese leaders who were convicted of serious war crimes in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, known as the Tokyo Trials, were enshrined at the Yasukuni Shinto shrine in Tokyo together with other war dead. This move echoed the nationalist ethos of the traditionalist movement.
Akihito’s father, Hirohito, was infuriated at this attempt to exonerate Japan and stopped his regular pilgrimages to the shrine, which he had visited every five years. Emperor Akihito has never visited the shrine since he ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne.


この文章はニュートラルではない。裕仁昭和天皇が親拝を中止されたのは事実だが、合祀に “激怒”(”infuriate” は強い表現)した事実は確認されていない。怒るというより「不快感を示された」とするのが一般的。この辺の事情についてはWilipediaの「富田メモ」の項を参照してほしい。今上陛下が一度も靖国に行かれていないのは事実。A級戦犯合祀問題はいまでも国際的な懸案事項。

“convict (someone) of (something)” で有罪判決を下すの意味。”enshrine” は(神として)祀る(祭る)の意味。”exonerate” の語源はラテン語の “ex“(out、off)+ “onerare“(load、oppress)、「重荷を外す」→「無罪化する、解放する」。派生語に “onerous”(面倒な、厄介な)。

“ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne” は即位するの定型表現。直訳すれば「菊の座(=玉座)に上がる」→「天皇の座に就く」の意。”the Chrysanthemum Throne” 単独で「菊のご紋(紋章)」「皇位」「天皇の地位」を意味する。


Unlike his predecessor, whose status changed from living god to human being as a result of international politics, Akihito has always been the emperor as national symbol since his accession to the throne. People close to the emperor say Akihito thought he would not be able to serve as the symbol of “the unity of the People” if he relied only on the traditional authority of the emperor.
As a result, he has based his public service on two key principles since he ascended the throne in 1989. One is strictly adhering to the pacifist principles of the Constitution and, specifically, making as many trips as possible to console the spirits of war victims in countries where Japan fought in the war.




What does Abe intend to do to cope with this sticky question? The nation is facing a crucial choice concerning the issue of Imperial succession. Should it choose to restore former Imperial family members to their previous status in order to maintain an unbroken line of emperors that supposedly dates back to the gods? Or should it opt to allow succession in the female line in accordance with global trends?
Tackling this hugely complicated and politically fraught issue, requires a leader with considerable courage. Given the Japanese tendency to put off grappling with sticky challenges, this problem seems likely to remain untouched until the very last moment, perhaps when the Imperial line is about to die out.



臣籍降下)。英語では “demote (demotion) from nobility (to subject)”。”demote” は “promote” の反対語。

“crucial” はラテン語のcrux(十字架)に由来し、crossroadsにおけるチョイスを含意する。そこから「重大な、命運を左右する」という意味が派生している。”sticky challenges” はまとわりついてくる(絶えず懸案の)課題という意味。”sticky” は粘着が原意の便利なことば。ポストイットは商標名、一般名詞は “sticky note”、”sticky page marker” といえばポストイットのしおりのこと。また “sticky post” といえば、ホームページ上で(記事の更新とは無関係に)常に先頭に表示されるエントリーを指す。