- Showa tenno
- (1901—1989)The Showa ('enlightenment and harmony') emperor, i.e. emperor Hirohito. He became crown prince in 1912 on the death of the Meiji emperor, became regent in 1921 and succeeded the Taisho emperor on 25th December 1926. He was officially regarded as a divine descendant of Amaterasu and provided the official focus of 'state shinto' devotion until the end of the second world war (see Kokka Shinto, Kokutai no Hongi). On 1st February 1946 he denied his own divinity in the New Year's Rescript stating that 'the ties between Us and Our people have always stood upon mutual trust and affection. They do not depend upon mere legends and myths. They are not predicated on the false conception that the Emperor is divine and that the Japanese people are superior to other races and fated to rule the world'. The divinity of the emperor as a descendant of Amaterasu nevertheless remains a significant Shinto motif. There was controversy following his death in 1989 partly because his was the first imperial funeral since the constitutional separation of religion and state in 1947 and observers were keen to see whether any reversion to 'state Shinto' would be attempted, but mainly because the opportunity arose to discuss openly this emperor's responsibility for promoting, or not preventing, wartime activities carried out in his service.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.