A Really Bad Idea

Monday, May 23, 2005

A Really Bad Idea

Sort of like popes, Japanese emperors adopt "reign names" upon ascending the throne, and the emperors are henceforth referred to by the chosen name. Americans, and for all I know other foreigners, continue for some reason to use the emperor's given name. Thus, the person the Japanese call the Showa emperor is known to us as Hirohito (just as his son, the Heisei emperor, is still called Akihito in the American press).

This is by way of introduction to the Japanese parliament's decision to rename a holiday Showa Day. It's the old emperor's birthday, which was a holiday during his lifetime. The day was retained as a holiday after his death because of its proximity to two other holidays, which together created "Golden Week," a week-long vacation for many Japanese. They needed a new name for it, so it was called Greenery Day. Now, Greenery Day is moving, to create a fourth holiday during Golden week, and Showa Day is taking its place. Just the thing Japan needs in its ongoing bickering with Korea and China over its failure to come to grips with wartime and prewar Japanese atrocities.

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