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Japanese Crown Prince says royal duties need to be reviewed as members decline

Crown Prince Fumihito of Japan said on Friday that the Imperial Family is limited in what they can do because of their ever declining numbers. He added that duties would have to be scaled down as a result.

“Those who are building international goodwill are decreasing, but in a way, there is nothing we can do. I think those among us who are able can only do so much,” he said.

His Imperial Highness added, “We can engage in broader activities if there are more people in the next generation, but if you look at the current situation, I believe it is necessary to examine what to do.”

The Crown Prince made the statements alongside his wife, Crown Princess Kako during a press conference ahead of their official visits to Finland and Poland.

He also shared his belief that duties could be divided equally between men and women, but he stopped short of endorsing women reigning in their own right.

At the moment, Japan operates under agnatic primogeniture, meaning only men can ascend the throne. The Japanese Imperial Family has more female members than male members meaning that the line of succession only has three people: 53-year-old Prince Fumihito (the younger brother of the Emperor), Prince Hisahito of Akishino (the 12-year-old nephew of the Emperor), and 83-year-old Prince Masahito (the uncle of the Emperor). 

Under current Imperial Household Law, not only can females not ascend the throne, they must renounce their titles and leave the Imperial Family if they marry a commoner. As a result, the number of Imperial Household members keeps dwindling. The family has 13 women – six of whom could potentially leave the Imperial Family in the near future.

There have been discussions about changing the laws of succession within the government to allow for female emperors, but no action has been taken as of yet.

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