Originally Posted by JR76
The difference in Japan is that should the situation arise they'd probably pick a male member of the quite numerous formerly imperial family branches that was demoted from their status after WWII. Apparently many of them still bear a grudge and consider themselves royal.
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Originally Posted by Michiru-Kaiou
Actually illegitimate children do have succession rights in Japan. Legitimate sons have precedence over illegitimate (even when older) sons, but an illegitimate son of the Emperor would (should he not have legitimate male children) take precedence over a legitimate brother of the Emperor. In fact, a couple of years ago one of the late Mikasa sons suggested Crown Prince Naruhito should take a concubine to produce an heir.
best wishes Michiru
Under the current Imperial House Law, which entered into force in 1947, only legitimate male-line offspring of an emperor may be members of the imperial family, and only male members of the imperial family may succeed to the imperial throne.
Prince Tomohito's "concubine" suggestion in 2005, if it had been taken seriously, would have meant repealing the legal ban on polygamy in Japan. But reinstating polygamy was never seriously considered. Before Prince Hisahito's mother announced her pregnancy in 2006, the Japanese government planned to amend the Imperial House Law to allow the emperor's firstborn (legitimate) child to succeed, regardless of gender. Reinstating former imperial family branches was considered, but rejected.
The feelings of the former imperial branch members are unknown because all but one of them agreed to keep their views on imperial succession issues to themselves.
The Imperial House Law - The Imperial Household Agency
Imperial Family of Japan: Current Events July 2005 - May 2008