Views on succession system remain split

Newborn boy ends crisis, but some still want a woman on the throne

by Eric Johnston and Akemi Nakamura

Japan

News photo
People at the Roppongi Hills complex in Tokyo read the extra edition of The Japan Times announcing the birth of Princess Kiko's baby boy on Wednesday morning. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO PDF version
"I'm glad the baby is healthy," said Yasuko Kurashige, who works at a souvenir stand near Nara Park in the ancient capital of Nara, home to some of the earliest emperors.Kurashige said she was not surprised it was a boy."I think most Japanese have suspected for awhile that the baby would be a boy, especially last month, after some magazine reported that Prince Akishino told friends it would be," she said."I'm sure the Imperial Household Agency has known for a while that the baby was a boy. I figured that, since politicians and the media have been quiet recently about changing the law to allow a female to reign, they probably knew as well."The Imperial House Law only allows males from the male line to take the Chrysanthemum Throne. Until Wednesday, no male had been born to the Imperial family for 41 years, so debate had intensified before Princess Kiko's pregnancy on whether to change the law to avoid what looked to become a succession crisis.Yasuhisa Ueba, an accountant in Nara, said the birth of a boy means a succession crisis has been averted. He said he hoped the newest member of the Imperial family would begin training to become Emperor at an early age and spend a lot of time in Nara."To become a proper emperor, it's important that the boy learn the history of the Imperial family, especially in this part of Japan. I hope that, as he grows up, he pays lots of visits to Nara," Ueba said.Mitsuo Hashimoto, 58, an office worker from Nagoya, also said debate over the legal revision should settle down."I'm glad that a boy was born for the first time in 41 years," Hashimoto said. "I think the current succession system is best because – has maintained it for a long time.”

Six women have reigned in Japan eight times. The last woman on the throne was Empress Go-Sakuramachi in the 18th century.

Some people think that putting a woman back on the throne is a good idea.

“I support the idea of having a reigning empress,” said Ryoko Koda, 28, a homemaker from Chigasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture. “We live with the principle of gender equality now, and many women today work as hard as men do.”

Yuji Yonemitsu, 25, an office worker in Tokyo, agreed with having an empress, but said he was not interested in the Imperial family.

“I noticed TV shows reported about the birth this morning. But I really don’t know why the emperor exists,” Yonemitsu said.

See related links:
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Politicians happy to put off royal debate
Fans, patients, shop owners weigh in on Imperial birth
New prince becomes the third in line to assume Chrysanthemum Throne
Newborn prince to get 3 million yen stipend
Shares in baby goods take a dive after birth

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Many pairs fancy sex selection over nature’s course
Royal boy will put off succession crisis, not solve it