Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

  • HOME
  • Speaking Out
  • 【#868】Welcoming Panel Report Suggesting Ways to Preserve Male Imperial Line in Japan
Akira Momochi

【#868】Welcoming Panel Report Suggesting Ways to Preserve Male Imperial Line in Japan

Akira Momochi / 2021.12.29 (Wed)

December 27, 2021

A government panel of experts on stable imperial succession in Japan and other relevant issues submitted its final report to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on December 22.

Epoch-making proposal to adopt males from former imperial branch families

The report proposed two basic plans to secure the number of Imperial Family members on the premise that the male line imperial succession following Crown Prince Fumihito Akishino and his son Prince Hisahito should not be shaken.

The first plan suggests that female imperial family members retain their imperial status after their marriages. The proposal avoided the word “female-line imperial family branches” used in a Diet resolution in 2017 and showed measures to deny the right of succession to the Imperial Throne for children of female imperial family members and deny the imperial status for their husbands and children in order to prevent any female-line imperial succession.

The second plan calls for adopting male-line male descendants of the 11 former imperial family branches as imperial family members. This proposal may be natural as 18 of the 21 experts interviewed by the panel supported the male-line imperial throne and only two of them opposed a plan to adopt descendants of the former imperial family branches or directly accept male descendants of these branches as imperial family members.

A panel of experts’ report in 2005 accepted a female-line emperor and gave the imperial succession right to the first child of the incumbent imperial couple, denying the male-line imperial succession that our ancestors have preserved with their wisdom and serious efforts for some 2,000 years. In this sense, I would like to heartily welcome the latest report as hardly surprising and epoch-making as it offered the proposal to adopt male-line male descendants of former imperial family branches based on the position of preserving the male-line imperial succession.

Enact a special law quickly

Leader Kenta Izumi and Secretary General Chinami Nishimura of the leading opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan criticized the latest report as missing or shelving essential issues. But such criticism strays off the point.

The 2017 Diet resolution had urged the government to promptly consider challenges to secure a stable imperial succession, the creation of female-line imperial family branches and other relevant issues.

As for the creation of female-line imperial family branches, two proposals were made under a Democratic Party of Japan administration led by Yoshihiko Noda. The first one suggested that female imperial house members’ private-sector husbands and their children be admitted as imperial house members, while the second one proposed that such husbands or children be excluded from imperial house members. The latest report met the request of the Diet resolution by providing measures to deny the imperial succession right for children born between female imperial family members and males outside the imperial family and exclude female imperial family members’ husbands and their children from the imperial family.

Regarding how best to secure a stable imperial succession, the first step to do is to secure male imperial family members who support Prince Hisahito. This is the reason the report concluded that an urgent challenge is to secure a sufficient number of imperial family members and suggested to adopt male-line males of the former imperial household branches as imperial family members. The report cannot be viewed as missing essential issues.

The Diet should promptly enact a special law for the adoption following the special law enacted in 2017 for the abdication of then Emperor Akihito.

Akira Momochi is a director of the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and a special professor at Kokushikan University.