(kikukamonshō). Common name given to the Imperial throne of Japan. The chrysanthemum (kiku in Japanese) is the monshō, or crest, of the Emperor of Japan; therefore kikukamonshō literally means the Chrysanthemum Crest. According to legends, the Chrysanthemum Throne is the oldest continuing monarchy in the world. In Nihonshoki it is said that the Empire of Japan was founded in 660 BC by Emperor Jimmu. According to tradition, Emperor Akihito is the 125th direct descendant of Jimmu. With historical assurance the record goes back to Emperor _jin who supposedly reigned in the early 5th century. Despite the fact that there had previously been eight female Emperors (in Japan only the wife of an Emperor is called an Empress), under Japanese Imperial law women have been forbidden from reigning since the middle of the 20th century. The Emperor acts as a high priest in the ancestral religion Shinto, although his claim to divine origin from Amaterasu was formally renounced after World War II. Under the provisions of the current Constitution of Japan, the Emperor is a "symbol of the state and the unity of its people"; he has no real political power but is regarded as a ceremonial Head of State and constitutional monarch. (from Wikipedia)
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