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Let's discuss the imperial line of succession

This week’s featured article

KYODO

A whopping 81.9 percent of Japanese people said they are in favor of the idea of Japan having a reigning empress, while 13.5 percent are against it, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday.

The same poll also showed 70 percent of the same respondents said they would support an emperor or a reigning empress of the female line, meaning their mother descended from a woman of the imperial family but the father did not.

Such female successions would mark a huge departure from imperial tradition. Before the enactment of the old 1889 Imperial House Law, eight women reigned as empresses between 592 and 1770, but they and their successors were all of the male line.

After the enactment of the 1889 law under the Meiji Government, only males of the male line have been legally allowed to ascend the imperial throne.

The 1889 law was replaced with a new Imperial House Law after World War II, but the succession rules were retained.

In recent years, however, public calls for revising the postwar Imperial House Law have grown considerably because the imperial family now has only one future young successor — Prince Hisahito, now 13 — which raises questions over the sustainability of the male-only tradition.

First published in The Japan Times on Oct 27

Warm up

One-minute chat about the royal family.

Game

Collect words related to “tradition” e.g., history, culture and heritage.

New words

1) whopping: a word that emphasizes something very large, e.g., “The actor’s debut on Broadway was a whopping success.”

2) enactment: the process of passing a law or rule, e.g., “The company went through with the enactment of a zero tolerance policy for being late.”

3) considerably: notably large in size or extent, e.g. “The tumor had grown considerably since her last visit to the doctor.”

Guess the headline

Over 80% of public support an e_ _ _ _ _ _ being allowed to sit on the imperial t_ _ _ _ _

Questions

1) Do current laws allow for a woman to succeed the throne?

2) How many empresses has Japan had throughout history?

3) What is the recent move for the issue?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What do you think about having a reigning empress?

2) Do you think the postwar Imperial House Law could be changed?

3) Can you name some famous queens and empresses from other parts of the world?

Reference

令和の時代の訪れを国内外に伝える即位礼正殿の儀も終わり、新しい時代がいよいよ正式に幕を開けました。令和の後に続いていく時代を考えた時、男性により受け継がれてきた皇位継承権をこのまま続けていくのかは 、 もはや避けられない議論となっています。時代の変化とともに国民の意見は変わりつつあるようにも見えますが、その制度を変えるには多くの時間を要することも想像されます。

未来の皇室に何を期待するのか、朝英語の会に参加し皆さんで話し合ってみましょう。

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