Imperial status shift stumbles

JIJI

The idea of allowing female members of the Imperial family to retain their status after marriage is on track to be dropped.

The government said Tuesday it has received more than 260,000 comments from the public on a report released in October on two options on postmarriage status of female Imperial family members.

The most commonly expressed concern was that such a change could pave the way for a descendant in the female line to become a reigning empress and break the uninterrupted male line of emperors.

In one of the two options, women would be allowed to head branches of the Imperial family, while the other option would allow them to perform official duties after marriage as national public servants.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s administration examined the options because the number of female members is expected to fall sharply under the current Imperial House Law, which removes women from the Imperial family if they marry commoners.

Liberal Democratic Party President Shinzo Abe, almost certain to become prime minister next week following his party’s win in Sunday’s election, is opposed to the idea of allowing female members to continue holding Imperial family status after marriage.

The government sought public opinions between Oct. 9 and Dec. 10. The comments were overwhelmingly against the idea, officials said, though they added that many were similarly phrased, suggesting an organized campaign.

Noda had considered submitting a bill to revise the Imperial House Law, while Abe has called for efforts to maintain the male line. He has proposed bringing some former Imperial family members back into the family.