Shōwa Day, or “Emperor’s Birthday”, is a public holiday in Japan that commemorates the birthday of the Emperor Shōwa, who reigned from 1926 until 1989. Emperor Shōwa is also known as “Hirohito”. The holiday falls on 29 April each year.
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Shōwa Day was originally set up to honour the emperor for his great achievements and because he was traditionally thought of as a “god”. World War II and the defeat of Japan at its end brought the holiday into question. The fact that members of the imperial government were sentenced to death on the same day in 1948 – including prime minister Tojo, certainly adds to the confusion many feel over the meaning of the day.
Immediately after the death of Emperor Hirohito in 1989, his birthday celebration was replaced by “Greenery Day”. In 2007, however, it was brought back to reflect on the great changes and monumental events that occurred during the more than 60 years of Hirohito’s reign.