National

Nearly 80% in Japan support having women on throne and 82% feel affection for new emperor

Kyodo

Over 82 percent of respondents feel affection for newly enthroned Emperor Naruhito, while nearly 80 percent said they would support allowing females to ascend to the imperial throne, a Kyodo News survey showed Thursday.

In the two-day nationwide opinion poll conducted after Emperor Naruhito’s accession on Wednesday following the 30-year reign of his father, 82.5 percent said they feel affection for the 59-year-old emperor, while 11.3 percent did not.

The support rate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet remained nearly flat at 51.9 percent, compared with 52.8 percent in the previous survey in April. The disapproval rate stood at 31.3 percent, slightly down from 32.4 percent.

The survey covered 743 randomly selected households with eligible voters as well as 1,238 mobile phone users, obtaining responses from 516 and 518 people, respectively.

Amid lingering concern over the stability of Japan’s imperial succession that only allows male heirs on the father’s side to reign as emperors, 79.6 percent said they would support a woman ascending to the throne in the future, while 13.3 percent would not.

The conservative governments led by Abe, including his first time in office between 2006 and 2007, have expressed caution about changing the male line of succession, while apparently recognizing the need to address the dwindling number of imperial family members.

There are currently three heirs among the 18 members of the imperial family — the emperor’s younger brother Crown Prince Akishino, 53, his son Prince Hisahito, 12, and the emperor’s uncle Prince Hitachi, 83. The only child born to Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako is their daughter Aiko, 17.

Emperor Naruhito ascended to the throne after his father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, 85, abdicated Tuesday due to concern over his advanced age, the first Japanese monarch to do so in 202 years.

In his first speech after the enthronement on Wednesday, Emperor Naruhito pledged to stand with his people following the example set by his father and to fulfill his symbolic, nonpolitical role in accordance with the post-World War II Constitution.

“In acceding to the throne, I swear that I will reflect deeply on the course followed by his majesty the emperor emeritus and bear in mind the path trodden by past emperors, and will devote myself to self-improvement,” he said.