Last year, in a rare public message, Japan’s Emperor Akihito expressed his desire to abdicate because of his advanced age. The most recent update stated that Japan’s government plans to hold the abdication ceremony for Akihito next year. A survey conducted by Kyodo News on Monday showed that the majority of the Japanese public support the creation of a permanent system allowing emperors to abdicate.
The public is ‘aversed’ to the government’s plan to enact a one-off abdication law as the government has already voted on legislation to do for the current emperor. Only 25 percent of respondents agreed with this option. The survey covered 3,000 people aged 18 and older; it was conducted from 4 March through 18 April. The Diet’s ruling to create the legislation for the one-off abdication of the Emperor was passed on 17 March.
68 percent of the respondents thought that the Imperial House Law should be revised to allow future emperors to relinquish the throne. Only four percent said that rulers should not be allowed to abdicate at all.
Current succession laws only allow for someone else to take the throne after the death of the current emperor. A government advisory panel on abdication met on 21 April. This panel created a group of proposals on altering the imperial system after Emperor Akihito’s abdication. The Imperial House Law does not include a provision on abdication. The panel did not propose any solutions but encouraged a deeper debate at both the public and government levels.
Currently, only males are allowed to take the throne; women are prohibited by law to do so. The survey showed that “86 percent supported allowing a woman to assume the Imperial Throne and 59 percent supported bringing about both a female emperor and an emperor of female lineage.” Regarding “retaining princesses as members of the Imperial Family by enabling them to establish their branches even after they marry commoners, 62 percent supported such branch establishment, and 35 percent opposed it.”
Finally, regarding potential legal options for the ascension of female imperial members, 61 percent said discussions should be started after Emperor Akihito abdicates, and 28 percent said it should be carried out along with discussions about the abdication.
Royal Central has covered this story from the beginning and will continue to keep you updated regarding the abdication issue in Japan.