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The death of Prince Mikasa — the 100-year-old uncle of Emperor Akihito who was one of only five men in line for the Chrysanthemum throne — has once again put the spotlight on the issue of Imperial succession and the dwindling size of the Imperial family.

After the prince’s death Thursday, Imperial Household Agency Grand Steward Shinichiro Yamamoto acknowledged at a regular news conference that the succession issue is a problem and something that poses “a major challenge.”

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