The government plans to include the official title of a reigning empress’s husband in its bill to allow a female on the throne, government officials said Saturday.
Of Japan’s few reigning empresses through history, none was married while on the throne.
After setting up a preparatory office last Thursday at the Cabinet Secretariat to draft the bill to revise the Imperial House Law, the government is planning to decide on the issue by around March, the officials said.
The move comes after a government panel on Imperial succession submitted to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Nov. 24 a report which proposes allowing females and their descendants to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne and including their husbands and children in the Imperial family.
The current law, which took effect in 1947, mandates that only male heirs who have emperors on their fathers’ sides can succeed to the throne and female Imperial members have to leave the household if they marry commoners.
Though Japan had eight female monarchs in the past who ruled between the sixth and 18th centuries, they were either unmarried or had been widowed.
Experts have referred to the husband of a female monarch as “kosei,” which means empress’s husband, or “kohai,” which means prince consort, but some in the government have said they “should consider a name more acceptable to the public.”
The panel said such titles as “tenno,” a unisex word which means emperor, and “kotaishi,” which means crown prince, should be applied also to female Imperial members.
It said the husband of a female monarch should be called by the honorific title of “heika,” the same used for the emperor and the empress.
But the panel did not decide on the issue of what to call the husband of a female monarch on the grounds none of the panel members specialize in Japanese literature, according to a panel member.
The 10-member panel consisted of six academics, a former Supreme Court justice, a business leader, a former deputy chief Cabinet secretary and a senior government official.
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