Gov't to discuss allowing women in imperial family to keep status after marriage

TOKYO —

The government will hold its first meeting on Wednesday to study the possibility of allowing women in the imperial family to keep their imperial status after marriage.
 
Japanese law requires female members marrying a commoner to officially leave the monarchy. That has palace officials worried because more than a third of Japan’s 23 imperial family members are single women and girls, some approaching marriage age.
 
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said a panel of experts will discuss whether female members of the imperial family should be able to create their own family branches. The question of imperial succession—specifically whether a woman should be able to become the reigning monarch—will not be on the agenda, Fujimura said.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said last year that he intended to seek a national debate on the succession issue. “From the viewpoint of stability, this is a matter of urgency,” Noda said.
 
Emperor Akihito, 78, has only three eligible male successors—his two sons and a grandson.
 
Prince Akishino, 46, the emperor’s second son, said last year: “Keeping the imperial family to a small number is not bad in light of national budget. Naturally, we need a certain number to maintain the imperial family as is.”

Japan Today/AP

  • 4

    cleo

    From the viewpoint of stability, this is a matter of urgency

    It may well be, but I can think of a few other things (the economy, unemployment, pensions, taxes, Fukushima, Tohoku reconstruction, gender equality in the general public, to name a few in no particular order) that might be a tad more urgent?

  • 4

    paulinusa

    "...a panel of experts will discuss whether female members of the imperial family should be able to create their own family branches.'

    Just wondering how many of these experts are women.

  • 2

    WilliB

    Great. More imperial moochers on the taxpayers payroll.

  • 1

    LoveNot

    The best solution is to abolish the monarchy. I wonder if there are such discussions in Japan. there should be a referendum on the subject monarchy or not.

  • 1

    Ranger_Miffy2

    If the Imperial line opened up to women, would that be retroactive?

    Also, I think "Japan" can think of several things at once, such the Imperial line issue and Fukushima et. al.

    How much does each member of the Royal Family set you back? As compared to all the waste, corruption, and unnecessary boondoggles the J-government spends your tax yen on?

    Finally, this "men only" establishes the general male dominance patter for all Japanese, and keeps women in their place as breeders. Queen Elizabeth puts all of Japan to utter shame.

  • 1

    Cos

    Make them all "commoners". The need for a Tenno is not clear, but at the limit. The rest of the family are nobodies, no State matter.

    It's more than about time that this subject be officially discussed and women be given the equal right to be the titular head of this country.

    That's not a little nitpicking to discuss "right" here ? 120 000 millions of Japanese citizens are still waiting to get the right to become a Tenno. They should do like in Antiquity : make a lottery with all the Japanese people, the winner is Tenno for a year.

  • 1

    LoveNot

    In that case I hope these women all marry foreigners.

  • 0

    Yubaru

    It's more than about time that this subject be officially discussed and women be given the equal right to be the titular head of this country. Women all over the country lead their families and there is no reason, other than being sexist, that they can't lead the imperial line as well.

    Women's rights need to be brought to the forefront and this is just one (small) step in the right direction.

  • 0

    Yukio Mishima

    Backwards! On a level with Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Pakistan and Iran! Lift your game Japan! The women of Japan deserve better!

  • 0

    tmarie

    Well said Cleo.

    Unless they are going to change the rules on allowing women to rule, why bother? A larger family means more cost to the public. England itself has issues with the cost of protecting for the princesses and the like. Why make things more expensive for the taxpayer?

  • 0

    Yubaru

    It may well be, but I can think of a few other things (the economy, unemployment, pensions, taxes, Fukushima, Tohoku reconstruction, gender equality in the general public, to name a few in no particular order) that might be a tad more urgent?

    You know not to take anything away from, or belittle, the problems you mentioned here, but the rest of the country doesn't just stop still and go into hibernation. Japan has a host of problems and issues that need addressing and this is just one.

    I don't understand why people here seem to think that nothing is being done regarding the reconstruction of the disaster areas. Even though it may not receive a lot of press coverage here, it is moving along, albeit at a snails pace in some areas, life goes on for the rest of us, and the imperial family as well too.

  • 0

    Yubaru

    But Yubaru thats the point - this discussion is nothing to do with being head of the country or leading the imperial line. Its just about keeping the family big as so many women are likely to leave it soon.

    So many? How many are going to be leaving it soon?

  • 0

    KuYani

    I think is a good idea, it is a new world and women has to take there places. Men has long deny them that and they has been bearing the brount of everything, presure, they paid their dues. God forbid but if a catrophe should hit where the family now reside, most of them would be whiped out, so it is a case of preservation to let the family expand. No need to support them, I think they are capable of supporting themself. For instant, I am prince and nobody support me, not a dime, the last time one of my minister came to me and he said this, "Since your people are struggling you can't live in up rich" well that takes the cake, he got a nerve, he resides in Honolulu and he is telling me I can't live it up, he even took my school ring off my finger and took it with him...

  • 0

    NeoJamal

    Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said last year that he intended to seek a national debate on the succession issue.

    Yes, because whether to uphold a millennia long tradition of Empress-regnants or a law against that, which was enacted some 60 years ago by the 'encouragement' of the American occupiers is a highly contentious issue worthy of numerous debates funded by the taxpayers.

  • 0

    Nicky Washida

    @yubaru

    "more than a third of the 23 family members"

  • 0

    JapanGal

    I think it is a waste of time to debate this when there are a lot more other important issues.

  • 0

    cleo

    it is moving along, albeit at a snails pace in some areas

    So, boost the speed on those important things, get them sorted quickly and once they're settled, discuss the anachronistic hereditary monarchy in all its glory and appendages. For people who are still living in limbo, 'a snail's pace' is simply not good enough.

    life goes on for the rest of us, and the imperial family as well too.

    The problem being that it goes on for too many of them, and they cost too much. When the government is being charged with the task of cutting wasteful public expenditure, if they discuss the royal family at all it should be in terms of how much it can be pruned, not how much it can be extended.

    a law against that, which was enacted some 60 years ago by the 'encouragement' of the American occupiers

    The 'only men can be Emperor' thing started during the Meiji Period. All the Americans did was not change it. And the present question is not about females being Emperor, only about how many bodies can be added to the gravy train.

  • 0

    Nicky Washida

    I agree with you Yubaru, but this is not an issue that is going to do anything for the women of Japan. Pick your battles wisely, I was always told. There are more pressing issues regarding the status of women here that need discussion, including but not limited to a female Empress being able to take the head. But that is not what they are discussing here.

  • 0

    Draconalis

    The choices are, risk the death of the blood line from the modern era's comparitively low birth rates, or risk an explosion in the blood line, since people will essentially marry into the imperial family, and thus all of their children would be imperial successors.

    Tough choice, really.

  • 0

    Al Stewart

    But wont this hurt the cultural heritage of JP that is so strictly protected? Ie: Whaling

  • 0

    cleo

    I hope these women all marry foreigners.

    Didn't some air-headed politician once state in all seriousness that one reason Aiko should never be emperor is that 'she might marry some blue-eyed foreigner'?

  • 0

    cleo

    Now that's an idea for a sitcom.

    Hime ga Hakujin?

    Kimpatsu Hime?

  • 0

    LoveNot

    i do not know the rules of the Japanese monarchy but I know the rules of Thai monarchy. There is a rule that if the King has children from a foreign wife, they are excluded from the list of the successors to the throne and cannot succeed their father as rulers..

  • 0

    j4p4nFTW

    @LoveNot,

    thanks you for that information. It sounds like thailand has very wisdom rules! Japan should do the same.

  • 0

    yasukuni

    @Cleo - perfect!

  • 0

    yasukuni

    "The correct solution is to bring back concubine."

    Souda souda! I could do with a few myself. Now, all I need is for my wife to be convinced.

  • -1

    calm down

    Exactly,why don't they keep it to talk about over drinks AFTER work

  • -1

    tmarie

    So many? How many are going to be leaving it soon?

    I can think of three that if they get married in the next 15-20 years.

  • -1

    Yubaru

    This issue is important for women. It is a small but important step in recognizing that the imperial family has to get with the times and modernize. Women's issues here take a back seat too many times and to me it's sad to read comments by women belittling the importance of the issue.

    I think it is a waste of time to debate this when there are a lot more other important issues.

    And yet you found time to comment on the issue anyway?

  • -1

    tmarie

    And the present question is not about females being Emperor, only about how many bodies can be added to the gravy train.

    Exactly. Why are so many people not getting this is not about allowing females to lead? All this will mean is that the family expands when they marry and we get to foot the bill. No mention of allowing women to rule - which I would be more than happy to support. That doesn't cost more money. And probably would have saves us some in the past with fertility costs...

  • -2

    sunhawk

    as long as a common born man doesn't end up emperor i'm fine with this.

  • -2

    j4p4nFTW

    I personally find this idea morally repugnant. The correct solution is to bring back concubine.

  • -3

    Nicky Washida

    But Yubaru thats the point - this discussion is nothing to do with being head of the country or leading the imperial line. Its just about keeping the family big as so many women are likely to leave it soon. Different thing, and I wonder why it is necessary to keep the family so big anyway ??!

  • -7

    NetNinja

    @Nicky Washida

    Can't figure out why they need to keep the family so big?

    The imperial dynasty lives on. Dormant just like Mr. Fuji or Lord Sauron. Japan behind closed doors desperately seeks to return to full military strength as they once were before the war. When that time comes power will be changed to the Emperor of Japan.

    People will tell you whatever needs to be said in order to achieve this. On that day, all Japanese will bow down deeply to the Emperor and declare themselves once again, the divine race on this planet. Then the wars will start again.

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