With Wednesday's ascension of Emperor Naruhito following his father's abdication, questions are now being asked about the roles women will play in the imperial family amid concerns over future successions and the imperial male bloodline, and how public duties should be shouldered in an ever-shrinking household.

Under the 1947 Imperial House Law, only men descended through the male line can ascend to the throne. Women who marry commoners must leave the imperial family.

Of the current 18 imperial family members including Emperor Emeritus Akihito, 85, and Empress Emerita Michiko, 84, who no longer perform official duties, 13 are women.