Emperor Naruhito on February 23, 2021 in Tokyo.

“The emperor is very worried about the current situation of contamination by the coronavirus”, Imperial Household agency chief Yasuhiko Nishimura said during a press briefing on Thursday (June 24). “ Given the concerns of public opinion, Her Majesty seems concerned about the risk of a possible acceleration of infections as a result of this event ”, he added.

Coming from the emperor, Honorary President of the Olympic Games (JO) and who, as such, must declare them open as his grandfather Hirohito did for those of Tokyo in 1964, these little sentences with heavy words n ‘ nonetheless have a certain weight. They embarrass Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who wants these Games to take place despite warnings from medical experts, starting with government advisor Shigeru Omi, on the risks of a new wave of contamination in favor of this event which is due to start on July 23.

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Government spokesman Katsunobu Kato worked on Friday to downplay the remarks attributed to the emperor by the head of the Imperial House agency, a state body that reports to the office of the Prime Minister. Minister, arguing that it was only about “Personal impressions” by M. Nishimura.

A gauge in the stadiums

The latter did not quote the words of the monarch, but mentioned the “Feeling that Her Majesty is concerned about the risk of an acceleration of infections”. According to the expert from the Imperial House of Nagoya University, Hideya Kawanishi, quoted by the Kyodo news agency, Mr. Nishimura reported the sentiment of the emperor with his full consent. According to him, the monarch would seek “To make the population understand the delicate position in which he finds himself having to proclaim the opening of the Olympic Games which he knows worries the public.”

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According to a Kyodo agency poll of June 20, 86% of Japanese people fear a new wave of contamination during the Olympics. The Suga government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have just aroused strong criticism in the press by deciding that a limited number of spectators (50% of the stadium capacity with a maximum of 10,000 people) could attend the events.

The first signs of a recovery

The emperor has no political power. Despite the restraint imposed by his status as “Symbol of the state and the unity of the people” under the terms of article 1 of the Constitution, Naruhito intends to give his function the dimension of a moral entity, as did his father Akihito who abdicated in 2019. Throughout his reign, the latter has discreetly laid down guidelines in order to keep Japanese democracy on the path mapped out in the aftermath of the defeat, and he always wanted to be close to the population, in particular during disasters such as that of March 11, 2011 (earthquake, deadly tsunami and nuclear accident ). The pandemic is also a crisis situation.

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