Seiko Noda, executive acting secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said Friday that Japan should consider the option of allowing members of the imperial family’s maternal lineage to ascend the throne.

Speaking at a joint press conference with all four candidates in the Sept. 29 LDP leadership election, Noda said, “We must seek opinions widely from the people” regarding the imperial succession.

“Maternal-line emperors are one of the options,” she said, adding that it is difficult for Japan to maintain the current system where only men in the paternal bloodline of the imperial lineage can become emperor.

On the other hand, former LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida said that “only offspring in the paternal line have inherited the throne without exception,” adding that he is “against maternal-line emperors.”

“We should consider options other than one allowing maternal-line emperors,” including reinstating men of the male bloodline from the former imperial family, he added.

Former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi said that the 126 generations of paternal-line emperors “reflect the emperor’s authority and legitimacy.”

She voiced her hopes of reinstating former imperial family members.

Regulatory reform minister Taro Kono has suggested in the past a need to consider having emperors from the imperial family’s maternal bloodline.

“The very important thing is that we pass over the torch of Japan’s tradition in which (the current imperial system) has continued for 126 generations,” Kono told Friday’s press conference.

Noting that he will respect the conclusion of an expert government panel on the imperial succession, Kono continued, “It is crucial that we gain widespread support from the general public.”

He avoided mentioning whether he is for or against the idea of maternal-line successors.

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