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Women's Lib for Japanese Throne?

Thursday, December 2, 2004 Posted: 03:44 PM JST

Japan celebrated the birthday of Princess Aiko, the crown prince's only child, yesterday with a report that the government may discuss changing the law to allow her to become empress. Female succession to the Chrysanthemum Throne is now banned by law. No male heirs have been born into the royal family in nearly four decades and many observers foresee a crisis if the law is not changed.

The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported yesterday that the government hopes to amend the law within several years. "The Cabinet's secretariat, the Cabinet Legislation Bureau and the Imperial Household Agency plan to join forces to produce a preliminary report on the controversial issue of allowing a female heir, and submit a bill to the Diet for approval within the next few years following discussion with experts," the article reads. The government's chief spokesman Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda denies the report however. Last month Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi insinuated that it would be okay for a woman to ascend the throne.

The last male born to the royal family was the crown prince's younger brother Prince Akishino in 1965. He and his wife, Princess Kiko, have two children, but both are female. Eight empresses have ruled Japan. Japan's last female monarch was Empress Satoko who reigned from 1762 to 1770.

Keywords: national_news

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The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
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