Japanese Emperors

Emperor Akihito
Current Japanese Emperor

The Emperor of Japan is the head of the Imperial Family and is the ceremonial head of state of Japan's system of constitutional monarchy. According to the 1947 constitution, he is "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people."

Historically, he is also the highest authority of the Shinto religion as he and his family are said to be the direct descendants of the sun-goddess Amaterasu, and his importance also lies in dealing with heavenly affairs, including Shinto ritual and rites throughout the nation.

In Japanese, the Emperor is called Tennō (天皇), which means "heavenly sovereign". In English, the use of the term Mikado (帝) for the Emperor was once common, but is now considered obsolete.

Currently, the Emperor of Japan is the only remaining monarch in the world reigning under the title of "Emperor". The Imperial House of Japan is the oldest continuing hereditary monarchy in the world.

In Kojiki or Nihon Shoki, a book of Japanese history finished in the eighth century, it is said that Japan was founded in 660 BC by Emperor Jimmu. The current Emperor is Akihito, who has been on the Chrysanthemum Throne since he was enthroned after his father, the Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito), died in 1989.

The role of the Emperor of Japan has historically alternated between a largely ceremonial symbolic role and that of an actual imperial ruler. Since the establishment of the first shogunate in 1192, the Emperors of Japan have rarely taken on a role as supreme battlefield commander, unlike many Western monarchs. Japanese Emperors have nearly always been controlled by external political forces, to varying degrees.

In fact, from 1192 to 1867, the shoguns, or their shikken regents in Kamakura (1203–1333), were the de facto rulers of Japan, although they were nominally appointed by the Emperor. After the Meiji restoration in 1867, the Emperor was the embodiment of all sovereign power in the realm, as enshrined in the Meiji Constitution of 1889. His current status as a figurehead dates from the 1947 Constitution.

Since the mid-nineteenth century, the Imperial Palace has been called Kyūjō (宮城), then Kōkyo (皇居), and is located on the former site of Edo Castle in the heart of Tokyo. Earlier, Emperors resided in Kyoto for nearly eleven centuries.

The Emperor is not even the nominal Chief Executive unlike most other constitutional monarchies and he possesses only certain important ceremonial powers. The Constitution states that the Emperor "shall perform only such acts in matters of state as are provided for in the Constitution and he shall not have powers related to government" (article 4).

It also stipulates that "the advice and approval of the Cabinet shall be required for all acts of the Emperor in matters of state" (article 3). Article 4 also states that these duties can be delegated by the Emperor as provided for by law. Article 65 explicitly vests executive power in the Cabinet, of which the Prime Minister is the leader. The Emperor is also not the (ceremonial) commander-in-chief of the Japan Self-Defense Forces. The Japan Self-Defense Forces Act of 1954 also explicitly vests this role with the Prime Minister.

While the Emperor formally appoints the Prime Minister to office, article 6 of the constitution requires him to appoint the candidate "as designated by the Diet", without any right to decline appointment.

Article 6 of the Constitution delegates the Emperor the following ceremonial roles:

  1. Appointment of the Prime Minister as designated by the Diet.
  2. Appointment of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as designated by the Cabinet.

The Emperor's other duties is laid down in article 7 of the Constitution, where it is stated that the "Emperor with the advice and approval of the Cabinet, shall perform the following acts in matters of state on behalf of the people":

  1. Promulgation of amendments of the constitution, laws, cabinet orders, and treaties.
  2. Convocation of the Diet.
  3. Dissolution of the House of Representatives.
  4. Proclamation of general election of members of the Diet.
  5. Attestation of the appointment and dismissal of Ministers of State and other officials as provided for by law, and of full powers and credentials of Ambassadors and Ministers.
  6. Attestation of general and special amnesty, commutation of punishment, reprieve, and restoration of rights.
  7. Awarding of honors.
  8. Attestation of instruments of ratification and other diplomatic documents as provided for by law.
  9. Receiving foreign ambassadors and ministers.
  10. Performance of ceremonial functions.

Regular ceremonies of the Emperor with a constitutional basis are the Imperial Investitures in the Imperial palace and the Speech from the Throne ceremony in the House of Councillors in the National Diet Building. The latter ceremony opens ordinary and extra sessions of the Diet. Ordinary sessions are opened this way each January and also after new elections to the House of Representatives. Extra sessions usually convene in the autumn and are opened then.

List of Japanese Emperors

EMPEROR # REIGN POSTHUMOUS NAME
Emperors recorded in Japanese Mythology
1 660 BC to 585 BC Emperor Jimmu
2 581 BC to 549 BC Emperor Suizei
3 549 BC to 511 BC Emperor Annei
4 510 BC to 476 BC Emperor Itoku
5 475 BC to 393 BC Emperor Kosho
6 392 BC to 291 BC Emperor Koan
7 290 BC to 215 BC Emperor Korei
8 214 BC to 158 BC Emperor Kogen
9 157 BC to 98 BC Emperor Kaika
10 97 BC to 30 BC Emperor Sujin
11 29 BC to 70 Emperor Suinin
12 71 to 130 Emperor Keiko
13 131 to 191 Emperor Seimu
14 192 to 200 Emperor Chuai
(Not Officially Recognized) 201 to 269 Empress Jingu
Yamato Period ( Kofun Period)
15 270 to 310 Emperor ojin
16 313 to 399 Emperor Nintoku
17 400 to 405 Emperor Richu
18 406 to 410 Emperor Hanzei
19 411 to 453 Emperor Ingyo
20 453 to 456 Emperor Anko
21 456 to 479 Emperor Yuryaku
22 480 to 484 Emperor Seinei
23 485 to 487 Emperor Kenzo
24 488 to 498 Emperor Ninken
25 498 to 506 Emperor Buretsu
26 507 to 531 Emperor Keitai
27 531 to 535 Emperor Ankan
28 535 to 539 Emperor Senka
Asuka period (592-710)
29 539 to 571 Emperor Kimmei
30 572 to 585 Emperor Bidatsu
31 585 to 587 Emperor Yomei
32 587 to 592 Emperor Sushun
33 592 to 628 Empress Suiko
34 629 to 641 Emperor Jomei
35 642 to 645 Empress Kogyoku
36 645 to 654 Emperor Kotoku
37 655 to 661 Empress Saimei
38 661 to 672 Emperor Tenji
39 672 Emperor Kobun
40 672 to 686 Emperor Temmu
41 686 to 697 Empress Jito
42 697 to 707 Emperor Mommu
43 707 to 715 Empress Gemmei
Nara Period (710-794)
44 715 to 724 Empress Gensho
45 724 to 749 Emperor Shomu
46 749 to 758 Empress Koken
47 758 to 764 Emperor Junnin
48 764 to 770 Empress Shotoku
49 770 to 781 Emperor Konin
Heian Period (794-1192)
50 781 to 806 Emperor Kammu
51 806 to 809 Emperor Heizei
52 809 to 823 Emperor Saga
53 823 to 833 Emperor Junna
54 833 to 850 Emperor Ninmyo
55 850 to 858 Emperor Montoku
56 858 to 876 Emperor Seiwa
57 876 to 884 Emperor Yozei
58 884 to 887 Emperor Koko
59 887 to 897 Emperor Uda
60 897 to 930 Emperor Daigo
61 930 to 946 Emperor Suzaku
62 946 to 967 Emperor Murakami
63 967 to 969 Emperor Reizei
64 969 to 984 Emperor En'yu
65 984 to 986 Emperor Kazan
66 986 to 1011 Emperor Ichijo
67 1011 to 1016 Emperor Sanjo
68 1016 to 1036 Emperor Go-Ichijo
69 1036 to 1045 Emperor Go-Suzaku
70 1045 to 1068 Emperor Go-Reizei
71 1068 to 1073 Emperor Go-Sanjo
72 1073 to 1086 Emperor Shirakawa
73 1087 to 1107 Emperor Horikawa
74 1107 to 1123 Emperor Toba
75 1123 to 1142 Emperor Sutoku
76 1142 to 1155 Emperor Konoe
77 1155 to 1158 Emperor Go-Shirakawa
78 1158 to 1165 Emperor Nijo
79 1165 to 1168 Emperor Rokujo
80 1168 to 1180 Emperor Takakura
81 1180 to 1185 Emperor Antoku
82 1183 to 1198 Emperor Go-Toba
Kamakura Period (1192-1333)
83 1198 to 1210 Emperor Tsuchimikado
84 1210 to 1221 Emperor Juntoku
85 1221 Emperor Chukyo
86 1221 to 1232 Emperor Go-Horikawa
87 1232 to 1242 Emperor Shijo
88 1242 to 1246 Emperor Go-Saga
89 1246 to 1260 Emperor Go-Fukakusa
90 1260 to 1274 Emperor Kameyama
91 1274 to 1287 Emperor Go-Uda
92 1287 to 1298 Emperor Fushimi
93 1298 to 1301 Emperor Go-Fushimi
94 1301 to 1308 Emperor Go-Nijo
95 1308 to 1318 Emperor Hanazono
96 1318 to 1339 Emperor Go-Daigo
Northern Court
  1331 to 1333 Emperor Kogon
  1336 to 1348 Emperor Komyo
  1348 to 1351 Emperor Suko
  1351 to 1352 Interregnum
  1352 to 1371 Emperor Go-Kogon
  1371 to 1382 Emperor Go-En'yu
  1382 to 1392 Emperor Go-Komatsu
Muromachi Period (1392-1573)
97 1339 to 1368 Emperor Go-Murakami
98 1368 to 1383 Emperor Chokei
99 1383 to 1392 Emperor Go-Kameyama
100 1392 to 1412 Emperor Go-Komatsu
101 1412 to 1428 Emperor Shoko
102 1428 to 1464 Emperor Go-Hanazono
103 1464 to 1500 Emperor Go-Tsuchimikado
104 1500 to 1526 Emperor Go-Kashiwabara
105 1526 to 1557 Emperor Go-Nara
106 1557 to 1586 Emperor ogimachi
107 1586 to 1611 Emperor Go-Yozei
Edo Period (1603-1867)
108 1611 to 1629 Emperor Go-Mizunoo
109 1629 to 1643 Empress Meisho
110 1643 to 1654 Emperor Go-Komyo
111 1655 to 1663 Emperor Go-Sai
112 1663 to 1687 Emperor Reigen
113 1687 to 1709 Emperor Higashiyama
114 1709 to 1735 Emperor Nakamikado
115 1735 to 1747 Emperor Sakuramachi
116 1747 to 1762 Emperor Momozono
117 1762 to 1771 Empress Go-Sakuramachi
118 1771 to 1779 Emperor Go-Momozono
119 1780 to 1817 Emperor Kokaku
120 1817 to 1846 Emperor Ninko
121 1846 to 1867 Emperor Komei
Modern Japan (1868-present)
122 1867 to 1912 Emperor Meiji
123 1912 to 1926 Emperor Taisho
124 1926 to 1989 Emperor Showa
125 1989 to present Emperor Akihito

 

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