Japan panel backs allowing female monarchs
I've blogged on Japan's royal succession crisis once before. This proposed change is long overdue. We'll just have to wait and see if it becomes official.
Open Post- Don Surber, Third World County
TOKYO - A government panel discussing imperial succession decided Monday to propose allowing female members of the royal family to ascend to Japan's throne.
Panelists agreed that Japan's succession law should be changed to give the first-born child the right to ascend regardless of gender, said committee head Hiroyuki Furukawa, a former Tokyo University president.
"If the priority is given to a male heir, it would make an unstable system that could involve a long wait for the birth of a boy in an uncertainty," Yoshikawa said. "It's not desirable."
The advisory panel has been meeting since January to study the succession issue and make recommendations as a shortage of male heirs threatens to trigger a crisis unless the Imperial House Law is changed.
Under the 1947 law, only males who have emperors on their father's side can inherit the crown.
Final recommendations are expected to be forwarded to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Thursday. Koizumi has said he planned to submit a bill to Parliament next year to revise the law.
If approved, Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako's 3-year-old daughter, Aiko, their only child, will be second in line to the throne, said Tetsuro Takigawa, a Cabinet Office official in charge of the panel.
In Monday's meeting, the panel also agreed to propose that sisters, daughters and granddaughters of an emperor be allowed to maintain their royal status when they marry commoners, Furukawa said. They would relinquish titles only if they choose to, and that would make their commoner husbands become royal.
That recommendation came less than a week after Princess Sayako gave up her privileges to wed Tokyo bureaucrat Yoshiki Kuroda, making her the first daughter of an emperor to marry outside an established set of former aristocratic families.
Currently, a princess who weds a commoner must become a commoner.
The panel made a preliminary report in July saying that female royals be allowed to ascend the throne. In early October, the panel agreed that if a woman were allowed to become empress, she should also be able to marry without relinquishing her title.
Although opinion polls indicate support for a ruling empress, some conservative academics and lawmakers are opposed.
Prince Tomohito, a cousin of the current emperor, Akihito, created a stir in September with an essay for a newsletter saying that Japan should exhaust all other options before allowing a woman to ascend its throne, including the adoption of sons from male former aristocrats and bringing back concubines.
The aristocracy was officially abolished after World War II.
The royal family is prohibited from interfering in politics under Japan's Constitution, and it has no say in the panel's discussions.