National

LDP heavyweights indicate tacit support for emperors from maternal line

JIJI

Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai suggested Tuesday that he would not necessarily oppose ascension to the throne by the children of imperial family women.

A similar view was expressed on television Sunday by the ruling party’s tax panel chief, Akira Amari, who is close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The remarks by the two party executives are expected to have repercussions within the LDP, whose conservative members are attached to the current system allowing only male descendants in the Imperial Family’s paternal line to succeed to the throne.

Whether to allow female offspring of the imperial family and their children to assume the throne is set to be the focal point of government talks, expected to start in earnest next spring or later, on ways to ensure stable imperial successions.

Under the current system, female descendants lose their status as members of the imperial family if they marry commoners.

At a news conference Tuesday, Nikai said, “A certain conclusion would be reached naturally, given that we live in a society where gender equality and democracy are upheld.”

Nikai had already expressed his tolerance of the idea of allowing female members of the imperial family to assume the throne.

In a TV program broadcast Sunday, Amari said that tolerating emperors from the maternal line should be kept as a last resort.

Clarifying the following day, Amari stressed that he does not actively support the possible change to the imperial system.

He said the basic principle was that the throne would continue to be assumed by male offspring in the paternal line.

Conservative members of the LDP recently submitted a proposal to the government, calling for legislation to allow the reinstatement of imperial family status for those stripped of it following Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Former National Public Safety Commission Chairman Keiji Furuya, who is among those members, has warned against permitting imperial successions by offspring in the maternal line.

“We shouldn’t do what’s irreversible,” he said.

Supported by conservative members, Abe has expressed negativity about the prospect of maternal-line imperial successions.

Senior LDP lawmaker Hiroshige Seko, a close aide to Abe, has called for careful consideration of the matter, saying that the imperial throne has been assumed by offspring in the family’s paternal line with no exception since ancient times.