Land of rising son turns its back on women
TOKYO: The Japanese government is considering a plan in which an elderly prince would adopt a distant male relative to save the imperial family from extinction.
The dwindling supply of male heirs to the Chrysanthemum Throne has prompted ministers to present reforms, including one that would allow the adoption of males from 11 families who share an ancestor with the imperial family, dating back 600 years.
The principal candidate would be Prince Hitachi, 85, the uncle of Emperor Naruhito. He and his wife, Hanako, 81, have no children but the change would give them a role in reinvigorating the family with imperial blood.
The line of succession leads to the emperor’s younger brother Crown Prince Fumihito and his only son
Prince Hisahito, who turned 15 on Tuesday.
Details of the plan, which has not been officially confirmed, were leaked to the Kyodo news agency.
It is one of several ideas to have emerged from the deliberations of an expert panel convened by the government to consider the succession crisis. Under Japan’s Imperial Household Law, only a male child descended from a male emperor can accede to the throne. Traditionalists believe this rule preserves something precious: a male line of succession unbroken for 2000 years, which in mythology goes back to Jimmu, the first emperor.
The panel will not even consider the option favoured by most people: changing the law to allow imperial princesses to reign as empresses.