By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) – Grappling with the imperial challenge of continuing the heredity of the royal family in Japan, a government body has recommended two measures to solve the problem.
The panel, headed by former Keio University President Atsushi Seike, was appointed by the government after Japan’s parliament passed in 2017 a non-binding resolution urging the government to come up with a stable imperial succession plan.
Of the two recommendations submitted to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday, the panel has said the female members of the imperial family, who marry commoners, be allowed to retain their royal status.
Besides, imperial law prohibits the adoption of children.
The second recommendation allows male heirs “from former branches to be adopted into the imperial family,” Kyodo News reported.
For the two recommendations to be adopted, Japan would require to revise its 1947 Imperial House Law. The move will aim to stop the dwindling number of eligible heirs.
Japan’s Emperor Naruhito, 61, has three heirs, including his younger brother Crown Prince Fumihito, 56, his nephew Prince Hisahito, 15, and his uncle Prince Hitachi, 86.
Japan’s imperial law only allows accession to the thrones to a male who has an emperor on his father’s side. And those female members who marry outside to a commoner lose their royal status.
The panel, however, postponed giving its conclusions regarding specific measures on succession.
On the issue of whether women or matrilineal imperial members will be eligible to ascend the throne, the panel said: “The issue should be judged in the future.”
In a recent setback to royal family numbers, Princess Mako, niece of emperor Naruhito, married her sweetheart this October and flew to the US where they are settled now.
The panel also suggested that the discussions on succession “should be pushed back until Prince Hisahito comes of age to marry as engaging in the debate now could destabilize the throne.”
“Women would not be given a choice about whether to remain in the imperial family after marriage to a commoner, and descendants of former branches adopted into the imperial family will not have the right to succeed to the throne,” the panel has recommended.
“In the event that the two options fail to secure a sufficient number of eligible heirs, making male heirs from former branches imperial family members by law should be considered,” said the Kyodo News report, quoting the panel recommendations.
Prime Minister Kishida said he will “respect the conclusions drawn from the discussions of the panel.”
The government will now submit the report to the parliament for deliberations.
There are 11 former branches of Japan’s imperial family that share a common ancestor some 600 years ago and had to abandon their status in 1947, two years after the end of World War II, Kyodo News said.