Tadamori Oshima, speaker of the House of Representatives, has said that the government should draft measures to ensure stable imperial succession as a basis for in-depth discussions by the Diet on the matter.
In an interview, Oshima said he hopes the government will draw up such measures after events related to the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito conclude in April with the Rikkoshi no Rei ceremonies, where Crown Prince Akishino is set to proclaim his ascension to first in line to the throne.
Oshima emphasized that draft measures for stable imperial succession should be drawn up by the current administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose final term of office as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is set to end September 2021.
Meanwhile, Oshima said that as speaker of the Lower House he is not in a position to comment on specific issues, such as whether a current rule allowing only males in the imperial family’s paternal line to assume the throne should be maintained.
When the draft measures are close to being adopted, the government may need to consult the Diet about how to move forward with the talks, Oshima said, adding, “I want (both ruling and opposition parties) to think about how the Diet should act” on the issue.
Discussions may take place among ruling and opposition lawmakers under the chairs and vice chairs of both chambers of the Diet, the same style as that adopted for talks on one-off legislation that allowed former Emperor Akihito to step down from the throne, he said.
Proceeding with talks at Diet committees and setting up a special forum for discussions could also be options, he noted. “I hope a conclusion will be reached after talks are held in a calm atmosphere,” Oshima said.
Also in the interview, Oshima expressed his hope for the ruling and opposition camps to reach agreement on a national referendum law amendment aimed at improving conditions for voting in referendums on revising the Constitution. The issue remained inconclusive in the past four Diet sessions and is now continuing into a fifth, with the 150-day regular session that began Monday.
The ruling and opposition blocs “now have a common understanding up to a certain point,” Oshima said. “I want them to discuss it in a calm way and find common ground.”
“I want them to use their wisdom further and discuss the matter in detail, in order to establish firmly the rights of the people, who have sovereignty,” the Lower House chief added.
Forming a common understanding among political parties through thorough deliberations is a major prerequisite to achieving constitutional revision, as strict procedural hurdles make it impossible for a single party to propose amending the top law at the Diet, Oshima said.
A referendum, if held, “may help people develop a sense of self-recognition as being sovereign,” he said.