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Q. Is female accession to the throne going to be made legal?
A. No males have been born into the Japanese Imperial Family since 1965. First in line to the throne, Crown Prince Naruhito, and his wife, Crown Princess Masako, have one female child, Princess Aiko. Second in line to the throne, Prince Akishino and his wife, Princess Kiko, have 2 female children. This results in the problem of who will become Emperor after Crown Prince Naruhito.
Debate began over whether a woman should be allowed to ascend to the throne, and all eyes fell on little Princess Aiko. Would she one day become Empress of Japan? Opinion was divided, with many people thinking that it would help bring some equality to the male-dominated Japanese society, and some thinking that it would destroy a tradition, and ‘dilute’ the imperial line.
The bill was set to be passed in the current parliamentary session, which ends in June. However, February brought the shock news that Princess Kiko was in fact pregnant, 12 years after she last gave birth. Hope was rekindled for those traditionalists who opposed the bill to allow women to ascend to the throne, and the debate was put on hold.
With the announcement of the sex of the child expected in the next few weeks, tension is beginning to mount. It is safe to say that not everyone is hoping that it will be a boy though. The birth of a boy will more likely than not result in the further delaying of this bill. The question of whether or not the law will be changed is on hold, but it will not remain that way forever. The changes to the law were supported almost unwaveringly by the female population, who were backed up by a large proportion of the male population, and looks set to be debated in the near future.
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