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Japan faces royal dilemma as ancient monarchy shrinks

42 Comments
By Natsuko FUKUE and Kyoko HASEGAWA

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The solution to the shrinking monarchy is ridiculously easy: the government could reactivate the various royal lines the Americans deactivated. It would cost no money and it would solve the problem.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Easy solution for any sane emperor if his wife can't get a son : either divorce and find a good reproductive lady, or get concubines. For sure history when Internet and genetics did not exist do not retzin all those little details. If not satisfied with a partner for any reason nowadays, change.

Why would the plebeians have that right and not the emperor himself ?

And make the term sex/sexy a positive term, not something shameful and associated to lust/shame in Japan.

Everyone enjoyed/enjoys watching Lady Diana or Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, with only a positive eye.

Crashing demography is not only affecting the Imperial lineage by the way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There is little doubt that monarchy has a positive enlightened role to play in Japan society .

Princess Aiko above all could provide/be that role model for the next generation.

The question is it will take every element of society to support that change.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A royal dilemma of Japan's own making. Continuing an outdated policy of male dominance in Japan. This was not always the case as Japan has had Empress's before in it's long history.

Kōken, in full Kōken Tennō, also called (764–770) Shōtoku Tennō, (born 718, Nara, Japan—died Aug. 28, 770, Nara), the last empress to rule Japan until the 17th century;

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Koken

A return to an older tradition would seem appropriate now before the royal line ends. Japan must move forward and not stand still.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So, if Japan wakes up tomorrow with no emperor/ess it will immediately collapse and regress in to just a blob of land of nothing. No, nothing will change. People will not wail and cry in the streets, the vast majority will not care one bit, because they neither gained or lost any thing that affected their lives. Monarchies are a dying breed, and so they should be. The new monarchies are the billionaires. And they are a story for another time.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The Japanese royals are essentially living in luxurious welfare and have never had to work a day in their lives. The royal household agency is just the welfare agency with a fancy name. If your a normal person on welfare in Japan, the welfare agency will control every aspect of your life. Only difference is normal people on welfare get put up in dingy 1960 era danchi and not a palace and private jets. Good for Mako-san for getting out of that family.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The most valuable commodity in Japan is the elderly, they toil the fields.

They work for peanuts in 24 hr conbini stores.

Make a guess how many have a higher university education?

How many are women?

Japan's Princess Aiko represents the gross refusal, for J Politicians to acknowledges the gift, the positive role women play in J society.

Worse still is my elderly J Aunts and Uncles.

They actually suggest that women are the home makers, and must respect that role.

My father had to physically put furniture in my path, and beg me to keep schtum today, when an aunt viewing newspaper coverage of Princess Aiko, said subservience is a gift from nature for women to obey.

This Aunt followed up with Politicians are male from birth. Why should that be any different for cultural monarchy?

The younger members of the family laughed.

Totally failing to realize Old Mother Hubbard was serious

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"this 'news story' seems to be on a loop...."

100% correct. How many times can you spin the very same story into another story? Guess we'll find out soon!

"If...if...if..." OK, but as of right now, we have: a thriving former Emperor, a reigning, healthy and relatively young Emperor (12 years younger than the UK's Crown Prince), a relatively young Crown Prince (15 years younger than Chuck the Bucked-Toothed), and a very, very young Son of the Crown Prince. "Only" three generations of Emperors left! LOL. Some "royal dilemma," huh?

Oh, and look, "some experts" make their appearance yet again! "Although traditionalists say Japan should not sever the "unbroken imperial line", their logic is flawed, Okawa argued, because Aiko -- who turned 20 this year -- is both the emperor's direct descendent and older than her cousin Hisahito."

Or, Mr. Expert, perhaps your own logic is flawed, since the reigning Emperor's brother, the Crown Prince, is also directly descendent of an Emperor, and older than Aiko? And "some say" look no further than to the UK for an exact example, where the Queen is only the Queen and not a married-off duchess, since her father became King not because he was the eldest, but because the eldest abandoned the throne in a REAL crisis. From brother to brother, just like in Japan! See how this works? "Some" say this, "some" say that (though notice only "some" whose views fit the writers' pre-conceived narrative of a "dilemma" make the print!)

Tempest in a teacup. We have a decade, or two, at least, before any "dilemma" makes its appearance. In that time, all the princesses will be married off to commoners, so this whole push to have an Empress is going to become moot well before this medi-manufactured non-"dilemma" rears its head, and if the boy prince should marry young and have a son, like most married people can/do? Where's the "dilemma" then??

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Nowadays, politicians are "scared of changing the system" while they are in office, Kawanishi said.

This sentence summarizes everything they (do not) do.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There wouldn't be a dilemma if these lawmakers or whatnot would get their archaic, misogynistic heads out of the past and let a woman ascend the throne. Surely they understand that such a simple solution will not bring about the 10 biblical plagues, right?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The royals here are prisoners in gold leafed cages. The IJA runs the show and the fam can't say no.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@ FYI

I regret to inform you that your comment is simply not true.

The one Japanese royal that caused so much turmoil was undoubtedly not well mannered and decent and respectful - that was Emperor hirohito the 124th of the showa era and the prime reason that Japan and its royalty are faced with these difficult choices .

Japan was forced to surrender its country or face atomic annihilation all because of Emperor hirohito .

I suggest you study a little more history from multiple sources .

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I think this article was very well written.

But no mention of the oldest known Queen or Empress of Japan - Himiko

A different blood line i assume.

And since the legendary divine status of the imperial family was renounced then certainly the severing of the current male only system should be abolished.

Japan has traditionally modeled it's self after the United Kingdom or Britain so why not accept the current gender equality and allow princess Aiko to become Empress Aiko.

Its truly sad when a royal family has absolutely no political power in its own country .

The people of Japan should be allowed to vote who they want as thier royal figurehead.

Change the constitution.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I agree!

stop wasting tax payers money on the Royals. They should become regular people in modern times!

surely they don’t have to worry about this pandemic!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Getting kind of tired of reading these “Japan is running out of royals” articles. At this point, decades after it became apparent this would be a problem and yet nobody having done the obvious thing to solve it, I’m pretty much OK with the country running out of royals. It’s not a problem at all really.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Born to rule monarchies are anachronisms. Time to abolish them all.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Simple fix, do both. Allow women to retain their royal status after marriage. It allows for the royal family to play into Japan’s ongoing difficulty of acknowledging Adult Women in Japanese society.

Many women get the lovely choice of either giving up their independence through marriage or being discriminated against for not getting married. Allowing royal women to retain their standing after marriage shows at the highest levels that there is a third option.

Second allowing for reintegration of former royal branches allows for more bodies to be sent on goodwill trips and expands Japan’s visibility.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So many people complaining about ‘my taxes’.

How much of your taxes goes towards the imperial family (or Britain’s royal family) ? - about ¥100 per person, per year.

I’m sure you’d be happy to pay that much, just to give you something else to whine about.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

We all know how effective japanese brainstorming is

What? Sitting in a room staring at the three approved ideas, all of which are unacceptable, sucking teeth and saying “muzakashii ne” over and over is a time honored tradition. This time it will work. As to a real solution, relaxing the lifestyle would keep royals in the family and in a decade or two enough oyajis will have moved on to stop blocking the people’s wishes on empresses. It could be a real revitalization. Very unlikely, but who knows.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The best way to keep the tradition of male-only imperial succession is to reinstate the former branches of the imperial family. These families have enough male kids to become future emperors. The branch families lost their imperial status in 1947 during US occupation when a legislation stripped them of their status. The law was actually designed to diminish the number of male heirs in the long run and eventually abolish the imperial family.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

A dilemma of their own choosing.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The last thing they should be doing is tweaking the ‘rules’ in order to keep everything the same.

What’s needed is not some way of ‘preserving’ the system, but some way of enabling the individuals in the family to live normal lives. Get rid of the gilded cage, the meaningless, outdated protocol and the suffocating ministrations of the Imperial Household Agency.

Mako managed to get out of it (good for her, though it involved the drastic step of moving to the US) and as things stand Aiko will one day be free (if some normal human male without any blot on his character can muster what it takes to ask for her hand), but the males are trapped. Let them go.

I completely agree.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Officials are brainstorming possible solutions 

We all know how effective japanese brainstorming is

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Good. They can finally get rid of this unnecessary waste of money.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Prolly just afraid of being called out on their nonsense, so they only want diminutive male emperors.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

only problem are the oyagiis in charge, female emperors have existed in the past. They are just afraid of women. If it ends it's because they made it end not for any other reason

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Female emperors would be a significant symbol for the advancement of women's rights in a country that insists on dwadling.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

the technology is there....use it

0 ( +1 / -1 )

All of the royals in Japan have been quite well-mannered, respectable, and decent people. 

I don't get all of the hate.

It’s not the matter of hate; far from it. Just that we’re paying our tax money to support them, and what do they do for us? Zilch.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Well, it affects their life, but mine and non royals? Not really much, except less taxes on our part to support their useless keesters. I don’t see how they support us.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Anything comes to end someday. Let nature takes its course.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

It's a shame the panel missed the opportunity to allow women to ascend the throne, which would have solved the immediate issues of succession; as well as reinvigorated the institution by showing that it was in step with the times. It now faces death not only by lack of heirs, but lack of relevancy.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The last thing they should be doing is tweaking the ‘rules’ in order to keep everything the same.

What’s needed is not some way of ‘preserving’ the system, but some way of enabling the individuals in the family to live normal lives. Get rid of the gilded cage, the meaningless, outdated protocol and the suffocating ministrations of the Imperial Household Agency.

Mako managed to get out of it (good for her, though it involved the drastic step of moving to the US) and as things stand Aiko will one day be free (if some normal human male without any blot on his character can muster what it takes to ask for her hand), but the males are trapped. Let them go.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Japan's imperial family is facing extinction due to a shortage of eligible emperors.

If the male dominant institution doesn't want to allow the females to become empresses. Then let the Imperial Family go into self inflicted extinction.

14 ( +20 / -6 )

But if 15-year-old Hisahito does not have a son, the royal family, whose history dates back more than 2,600 years, will run out of male heirs to continue the bloodline.

You shouldn't count the legendary period. Besides the royal succession has been disrupted in several historical occasions, most notably the very slow process of ascension to the throne by Emperor Keitai. Some historians argue that from his reign on was another dynasty.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I don't have a strong opinion about the Japanese "royal family" as such, but I do wish they would scrap the Showa, Heisei, Reiwa system of dating and use the same as most of the rest of the planet.

7 ( +16 / -9 )

this 'news story' seems to be on a loop....

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Idiots and a waste of tax payer money.

-10 ( +12 / -22 )

She look like a dignified royal

6 ( +7 / -1 )

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