Koizumi relegates succession bill to debate

by Reiji Yoshida

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi indicated Friday the government will not submit a bill to allow for female monarchs until it sees the results of discussions on the issue within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

With the announcement earlier the week of the pregnancy of Princess Kiko, the wife of Prince Akishino, Emperor Akihito’s second son, the majority of senior LDP officials are now hesitant about submitting a female succession bill right away, making it virtually impossible for the issue to move forward without the prime minister’s strong resolve.

But Koizumi and his aides no longer speak publicly about his earlier promise to push forward the legislation. They only say that discussions within the LDP should precede any government decision on the proposed change to the male-only succession rule.

“I will decide (on when the bill should be submitted) after seeing how discussions in (the LDP’s succession issue) study meetings go,” Koizumi told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence.

In a policy speech last month, Koizumi said he would submit the bill before the June end of the current Diet session.