Anti-Emperor Protesters Arrested; Funeral Plans Proceed
TOKYO (AP) _ Police arrested 13 demonstrators protesting the monarchy Tuesday, but a poll showed 80 percent of the people support the centuries-old system.
The government proceeded with elaborate funeral plans for Emperor Hirohito, 87, who died of cancer Saturday after a 62-year reign.
A spokesman for President-elect George Bush said Bush will lead the U.S. delegation to the state funeral Feb. 24.
The funeral will cost $74.3 million, including $25.6 million for the state service, $20.8 million for a mausoleum in a Tokyo suburb and $19.2 million for security, officials said.
″That will be an appropriate amount to make solemn but not showy (events),″ Finance Minister Tatsuo Murayama said.
The funeral for Hirohito’s father in 1927 cost the government about $24 million, Kyodo News Service said.
Bush spokesman Steve Hart said in Washington that Bush will attend the funeral in his first announced overseas trip after his inauguration Jan. 20. Hart said Bush will be accompanied by his wife, Barbara, but he had no other details on the itinerary or the delegation.
Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita has been expected to visit the United States for talks with Bush, and the newspaper Asahi Shimbun quoted an unidentified government source Tuesday as saying the visit will come in early February.
Representatives from more than 100 countries are expected to attend the funeral, including up to 50 heads of state and government.
The National Police Agency will mobilize more than 30,000 police to ensure the safety of visiting dignitaries and discourage disruptive actions by extremists, the agency said Tuesday.
Japan’s largest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, said a telephone poll conducted Saturday and Sunday of 1,876 people indicated that 82 percent support the emporer as the symbol of state, up 10 percent from three years ago.
The emperor once was considered a living god. But under Japan’s post-World War II constitution, he is ″a symbol of the state and the unity of the people.″ His duties are largely ceremonial and include meeting visiting dignitaries and fixing his seal on new laws.
About 100 youths demonstrated against the monarchy Tuesday, and 13 were arrested after protesters on a rooftop at Meiji University in Tokyo hurled flares and firecrackers onto a city street.
There were no reports of injuries or major damage, police said.
About 150 riot police were dispatched to the protest, during which the demonstrators shouted, ″Abolish the emperor system,″ a police official said on condition of anonymity.
About 200 citizens marched peacefully in downtown Tokyo and called for an end to praise for the emperor, police said.
Flags continued to be flown with black ribbons attached or at half staff in an official six-day mourning period that began Saturday. Most businesses were not affected, and the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main indicator climbed sharply to a record high for the second consecutive day.
Florists were deluged with orders for white chrysanthemums, used for funerals in Japan, and suppliers in Taiwan reported they were hard pressed to meet the demand.
Flower growers in central Taiwan, the major chrysanthemum suppliers to the Japanese market, could provide only 30 percent of the requirement, said the Taiwan Flowers Export Association.
The Imperial Household Agency said 178,254 people went to the palace Tuesday to sign a register of condolences, bringing the total to 1.2 million. Another 350,000 people had signed registers elsewhere in Japan, it said.
In an editorial in its Wednesday editions, Asahi Shimbun said of condolences from countries, including those invaded by Japan during World War II:
″Such expressions of condolence are partly a result of the efforts of the emperor himself to heal the wounds of war by paying visits to foreign countries or meeting the heads of state who came to Japan.
″We are reminded that the wounds of war remain deep more than 40 years after the end of the war and that it takes still more time to heal them. As hard as it is, we have to accept the historical fact as such and must continue our efforts to heal them.″