Japanese Princesses May Be Allowed to Form Imperial Branches

  October 8, 2012 at 4:26 am by

Princess Aiko

The Japanese Government has released a review of its plans of changes in the imperial family system whereby females may be allowed to retain their titles, styles and status after marriages to commoners, and to create their own Imperial branches.

Currently, two versions of the proposal exist. The first version allows female members of the family to not only create their own branches within the Imperial Family and retain their statuses after marriage, but also pass their title and imperial status on their children (although the children would still be barred from ascending to the Throne). The second version allows females to retain their titles and styles after marriage, but not pass them to their spouses or children. The changes only concern daughters and granddaughters of the reigning Emperor.

Princess Mako, Princess Kako, Prince Hisahito

The proposal drew positive responses from the Imperial Household Agency. Currently, there are eight unmarried female members of the Imperial Family – Princess Aiko (daughter of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess), Princesses Mako and Kako (daughters of Prince and Princess Akishino), Princesses Akiko and Yoko (daughters of Prince and Princess Tomohito of Mikasa), and Princesses Tsuguko, Noriko and Ayako (daughters of Prince and Princess Takamado). Six of them have reached the age of majority and have started performing duties on behalf of the Emperor.

The Government has made it very clear that the opinions of the female members of the Imperial Family are taken into consideration. It is understandable that those ladies (all raised with the understanding they will one day leave the family) can have different plans or priorities, so not all of them may be enthusiastic about a life-long service as servants and symbols of the country.

Princess Tsuguko, Princess Noriko and Princess Ayako

As the law is now, female members of the Imperial Family automatically lose their styles and titles and cease to be members of the Imperial Family (as per Article 12 of the Imperial House Law 1947). Thus, when Princess Sayako, the only daughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, married a commoner, she relinquished her style of Imperial Highness and title of Princess Nori and became plain Mrs. Sayako Kuroda. In contrast, male members of the Imperial Family form their own branches (such as Akishino, Hitachi, Mikasa and Takamado).

The proposals do not, at this time, include any provisions for a possible female succession. Currently, females have no succession rights meaning the only child of the Crown Princely couple, Princess Aiko, will not be able to succeed her father. As things are now, the very future of the Japanese Imperial Family rests on the tender shoulders of a child, Prince Hisahito – the sole male dynast of his generation.

To read more about Japanese succession issues, visit this thread – Succession Issues.

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2 Responses to Japanese Princesses May Be Allowed to Form Imperial Branches

  1. pmzq says:

    This has been a problem for the Imperial Family for years now and should have been addressed. The only solution would be for female succession. Even Japan has more or less equal rights for females in most cases, this should be no different. And in Japanese history there have been reigning Empresses – I think 8 times.

  2. Artemisia says:

    @ pmzq

    I whole-heartidly agree with you; female succession is the only way. Japan did indeed have 8 reigning Empresses:

    1. Empress Suiko (reigned from 593 to 628)
    2. Empress Kogyoku (reigned from 642 to 645 and from 655 to 661)
    3. Empress Jito (reigned from 686 to 697)
    4. Empress Gemmei (reigned from 707–715)
    5. Empress Gensho (reigned from 715 to 724)
    6. Empress Koken (reigned from 749 to 758)
    7. Empress Meisho (reigned from 1629 to 1643)
    8. Empress Go-Sakuramachi (reigned from 1762 to 1770)

    Ultra-conservatives often say that those Empresses were “temporary” and were replaced by a “proper Emperor” once he came of age. That is not correct either.
    - Empress Kogyoku was succeeded by her son, Emperor Tenji.
    - Empress Gemmei was succeeded by her daughter, Empress Gensho.
    - Empress Suiko reigned for 35 years until her death in 628.
    - Empress Koken (Shotoku) reigned until her death in 770.
    - Empress Kōgyoku abdicated in favour of her brother because of the Isshi Incident but re-ascended to the Throne upon his death to reign until her own death in 661.

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