Some in the Japanese government are now calling for women to head their own imperial family branches, and the government is set to start talks about just that.
The Japanese Imperial Family continues to shrink as female members marry; female royals who marry commoners must leave the Imperial Family and renounce their titles.
The government will discuss allowing the female members of the family to retain their titles and status in the Imperial Family and allow them to head their own branches. It is believed talks will begin soon now that Emperor Naruhito performed the Daijosai thanksgiving ritual last week.
Another point to be discussed is restoring the imperial status of 11 branches of the Imperial Family that left after the end of World War Two in 1947.
At the moment, the Emperor and Empress have one daughter, Princess Aiko who will one day, under the current law, have to renounce her title and lose her status as a royal when she marries. The same will happen to her two female cousins, Princesses Mako and Kako – the daughters of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess – when they marry. The Crown Prince Couple have one son, 13-year-old Prince Hisahito, who is second in line to the throne; Japan only has three people in its line of succession.
Japanese government conservatives do not like the idea of women heading their own branches.
Reportedly, the proposal of these discussions is being put forth as a way to defer discussions regarding allowing women to reign in their own right. When the law was passed in 2017 to allow the now Emperor Emeritus Akihito to abdicate, the government was asked to consider the possibility of allowing women to ascend the throne to secure stable succession and report to the Japanese legislative branch, the Diet.
Conservatives in the government are also said to be opposed to women inheriting the throne. Current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is also said to be in opposition to a 2005 proposal by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s expert panel who suggested allowing women or heirs from the maternal line emperor or empress.
The public, however, is in favour of the idea. A poll in October saw 82% in favour of women ascending the throne.