The Yomiuri ShimbunThe government is not expecting there to be a change in the current order of succession to the Imperial throne in upcoming discussions on the issue.
The government believes that if discussing the possibility of female emperors or female-line emperors were to lead to a review of the order of succession, the Imperial system could be shaken.
The government will set up a panel of experts in the autumn to discuss the issue.
There are three male members of the Imperial family who are eligible to succeed the throne. In order of succession: Crown Prince Akishino, 53; Prince Hisahito,12; and Prince Hitachi, 83.
According to government sources, discussions on stable Imperial succession will proceed in two stages. First, the discussions will make clear that the order of succession will remain the same, with the three male descendants in line to the throne eligible to succeed. Then they will examine specific measures for stable succession and measures against the decrease in the number of Imperial family members.
The government is trying to discuss the issue in such a way because opposition parties are calling for the establishment of a female-line emperor or a female emperor. A female-line emperor’s paternal side would include no imperial lineage. There have been no such cases in the history of Japan's Imperial family, irrespective of gender.
However, if the government or the Diet launch serious discussions on the issue of female emperors or female-line emperors, “it could lead to a debate over who should succeed to the throne — Princess Aiko or Prince Hisahito — which could divide public opinion,” a senior government official said. The government is concerned that the argument over the order of succession could escalate further and eventually affect the status of the emperor as a symbol of national unity.
A supplementary resolution to the special measures law, which was passed in June 2017 to realize the emperor’s abdication in the Heisei era, calls on the government to consider “various issues to ensure stable Imperial succession.” The government will start discussions on the issue in autumn after the Sokuirei-Seiden-no-Gi ceremony, in which the Emperor’s enthronement will be proclaimed to the nation and the world.
According to a nationwide opinion poll conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun in May, 79 percent of respondents said they support a female emperor and 62 percent supported a female-line emperor. The opposition parties’ positive stance toward a female emperor or a female-line emperor reflects such public opinion.
Meanwhile, conservative members of the Liberal Democratic Party and others, who value the tradition of male heirs from the male line, are opposed to the idea. There are calls for the return of former male members of the Imperial family who left the Imperial family after World War II. Discussions on the issue are expected to be far from smooth.Speech