Japanese panel recommends not changing male emperor-only system

TOKYO (AP) – A government panel has retained the imperial succession system for men in Japan despite a sharp decline in the number of men in the royal family.

The panel submitted a report to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday proposing ways to ensure there are enough potential successors, such as adopting single men from some of the 11 royal households now missing as potential heirs, and allowing royal women to retain their status after marrying commoners.

Both options would require a revision of the Imperial House Law of 1947, which largely preserves pre-WWII values.

The panel did not address the question of whether maintaining the current male-only inheritance system is viable.

With the practice of royal concubines now abandoned, the size of the Imperial family has fallen to 17. Emperor Naruhito has only two possible successors – his younger brother, Akishino, and his teenage son, Hisahito – other than his uncle of 86 years old. , Prince Hitachi.

Her only child, Aiko, a daughter, is not eligible to inherit the throne. Under current law, she has to leave the family if she marries a commoner, like her cousin Mako, who married his college sweetheart last month.

The report said now was not the time to discuss who would succeed Hisahito, who is still a teenager, NHK state television reported.

Kishida accepted the panel’s recommendations and thanked them for their “well-rounded discussion on an extremely important and difficult issue that involves the national foundation”.

He said he would present the report to parliament for further consideration.

Discussions about imperial succession continued for almost 20 years.

Faced with a possible succession crisis in 2005, a panel of experts proposed that royal men and women of the maternal line be allowed to ascend to the throne. But the suggestion met with stiff opposition from the Conservatives.

The proposal was rejected by the conservative government of then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the following year after Hisahito’s birth in September 2006, the first birth of a male royal in 40 years.