Imperial Household Law stipulates that only male Imperial family members in the male line are allowed to ascend the throne. This practice has been observed for well over 1000 years except for eight female monarchs between the 6th and 18th centuries. But they were all descendants from the male line and no emperors have descended from the female line.
…even if the baby is a boy, we cannot put this issue behind us when we are yet to face difficulties to secure a stable succession.
As Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Akishino only have daughters, Prime Minister Koizumi has called for the revision the Imperial Household Law to secure the succession of the Imperial throne. To discuss this matter, Koizumi set up a private advisory panel, which eventually recommended the emperor’s first child regardless of gender should be the next in line to the throne. However, this has provoked opposition from some lawmakers and scholars who claim this is too big an issue to be decided in such a hasty manner.
Just when Koizumi was about to submit a bill to revise the Imperial Household Law, he was in for the unexpected news that Princess Akishino was pregnant with the couple’s third child. The government and the ruling parties have abandoned the plan to submit the bill to the Diet. Princess Akishino is expecting her baby this fall. However, even if the baby is a boy, we cannot put this issue behind us when we are yet to face difficulties to secure a stable succession. I believe we should continue to have a constructive debate over this issue.