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Princess Aiko is to be heir to Japan throne, say reports

Princess Aiko is to be heir to Japan throne, say reports

Japan looks ready for a modern-day reigning empress after a panel set up to address the succession crisis indicated it could change the law to allow the daughter of Crown Prince Naruhito to be his heir, media said yesterday.
The question of who will succeed to the 2,600-year-old Chrysanthemum throne has sparked controversy because of a law that limits accession to males, and no son has been born into the imperial family for decades.
"It will go to Princess Aiko," the Kyodo news agency quoted an unidentified government source as saying on Monday of the issue of who would be next in line after the crown prince succeeds his father, Emperor Akihito, 71.
The 3-year-old Aiko is the only child of Naruhito, who turns 45 today, and of Crown Princess Masako, 41.
No boys have been born into the imperial family since Prince Akishino, the crown prince's younger brother, in 1965.
The remarks by the government source were taken to mean the 1947 Imperial Household Law would be revised to allow women to succeed to the throne, Kyodo said.
An advisory panel to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on succession issues is discussing a proposal to revise the Imperial Household Law, which limits accession to the throne to males.
The 10-member panel was set up after Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party issued a draft proposal saying it wanted legal revisions that would allow a woman to succeed to the throne.
The panel is to compile a report late this year.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Japan's top government spokesman, Hiroyuki Hosoda, was evasive.
"We will have full discussions from various angles," he said.
Experts have said a change in the law would herald a major symbolic change to Japan's male-dominated society and was inevitable given the lack of a male heir at present.
"Can Princess Aiko be Japan's empress? That's wonderful. At long last, our country will change in favor of women," said Atsuko Hirano, a 53-year-old Tokyo office worker.
Debate heats up
However, doubts remain over whether the panel would recommend giving precedence to the imperial first born, regardless of gender, or follow the British model in which a woman only ascends the throne if no male is subsequently born.
Debate has mounted recently over the succession law, with proponents of change saying it should be brought into line with modern laws on gender equality and noting that most European monarchies allow succession by both sexes.
Conservatives oppose any change that would break what they believe is an unbroken male line stretching back some 2,600 years.
Japan has had eight reigning empresses - the last ruled from 1763 to 1770 - but they were viewed as "stop-gaps" and none passed on the throne to her own child.
The crown prince's younger brother, Akishino, is second in line to the throne under the current law. His children are both girls.
Masako, a Harvard-educated former diplomat, performed no official duties for about a year until last month because of depression that court officials have said was caused by the strain of adapting to royal life.
Many royal watchers have attributed her condition partly to the pressure to produce a male heir.
In an apparent bid to show the crown princess is recovering, the palace yesterday released a video and photographs showing a smiling and relaxing Masako skiing with Naruhito and Aiko in a mountain resort northwest of Tokyo last week.


Updated : 2021-10-27 06:34 GMT+08:00