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 Words in the News
  The new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori has been strongly criticised for describing Japan as a divine country centred on the Emperor. BBC Tokyo correspondent Charles Scanlon reported.
  AudioListen to the report in full
Yoshiro Mori

18th May 2000

Japanese PM criticised for describing Japan as a divine country

 AudioListen to the first part of the report
  Mr Mori was addressing politicians with links to Japan's native Shinto religion. He described Japan as a divine country with the Emperor at its core and said the people of Japan should recognize it. Shinto was promoted as the national religion by Japan's militaristic rulers in the first half of the 20th century and at that time it honoured the Emperor as a god. The leader of the opposition Democratic Party, Yukio Hatoyama, described Mr Mori's comments as dangerous and said they were a throwback to the days of Imperial Japan. Japan's Asian neighbours are also likely to be angered: China and the two Koreas, in particular, are sensitive to signs of rising nationalism in Japan.

address: if you address a group of people, you talk to them - usually at a meeting or a gathering

Shinto: Japan's ancient religion which has no organised system of teachings. If you practice Shinto, you worship national heroes and family ancestors and believe in the divinity of the Emperor

divine: belonging to god or gods

core: the essence, the central part of something

promoted: if you promote something, you encourage and support it

honoured: deeply respected

throwback: a reversal to the past

NEWS 2  AudioListen to the second part of the report
  Mr Mori later qualified his statement, saying that he meant that the country's history and culture should be treasured. He said he had no intention of challenging people's democratic rights. Japan's postwar pacifist constitution decrees the rigid separation of religion and politics. It has also stripped the Emperor of any political role, describing him only as a symbol of the nation. Mr Mori succeeded as Prime Minister early last month, just three days after his predecessor, Keizo Obuchi, collapsed with a stroke. He's known as a conservative career politician with a tendency for undiplomatic comments.

qualified: to qualify something means to explain it by making it more specific

treasured: valued

rigid: strict

stripped of: if you are stripped of something, you are deprived of it - you no longer have it

succeeded: to succeed here means - to hold a position previously occupied by somebody else

predecessor: somebody who held a position before another person

   Read about the background in BBC News Online

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