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  #801  
Old 08-13-2012, 05:40 PM
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There is only one problem with the idea that the Imperial family is dying out because the y chromosome is 1000 years old and therefore has had lots of oppurtunities to mutate. Well two actually. First the Imperial families y chromosome would be a lot older than 1000 years. And every male alive today has a y chromosome many hundreds of thousands of years old. (I'm not sure when the Y chromosome Adam lived).
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  #802  
Old 08-13-2012, 06:17 PM
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1) Well, according to history (not myth, history), the imperial family dates back 1500 years, approximately. But even if the myth were true (which it cannot possibly be because historians nowadays agree that Japan, in the sense of an unified country, did not exist before around the fourth century) and it were 2600 years as ultranationalists falsely claim, this would clearly serve to make matters only worse.

2) Obviously, there are parents to every child. But, and that is the point here, it does not work the other way round: not every person gets to have children.

There are always individuals who do not succeed in passing their genetic information to the next generation, for a great variety of reasons depending on the circumstances, but the bad quality of their genome can definitely be one of them. Usually, this is not a problem because if this specific individual does not produce offspring, another will. Of course, there will always be parts of the genome that are, even in their present form, very old, sometimes it also happens that they mutate "for the better" etc. If you just want humanity to procreate, you do not have a problem because of the variety of genetic information that exists and because of the fact that the effect of "detrimental" mutation is counterbalanced by "good" mutation if you are dealing with a sufficiently high number of potential "procreators". Quantity is the key here.

If, in contrast, you refuse to rely on this counterbalancing effect of quantity but instead insist on a specific genetic material to be passed on for centuries, you may get a real problem because that is not how things normally work. Undoubtedly, there are always lots of y chromosomes that make it, changed by mutation or not, to the next generation, and the next and the next etc. But there are also quite a few that do not make it. If you humanly insist on deciding which should be which, if you claim to determine that a certain genetic material should "survive" for centuries and should absolutely get to be passed on, it is very probable that you will, in the long run, be forced to admit your impotence. It is nature that makes this choice, not man.

And, according to my impression, there is sufficient reason to suspect that, in this case, nature may have decided against the imperial family - at least as far as its male line is concerned.
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  #803  
Old 08-14-2012, 01:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiaraC View Post
1) Well, according to history (not myth, history), the imperial family dates back 1500 years, approximately. But even if the myth were true (which it cannot possibly be because historians nowadays agree that Japan, in the sense of an unified country, did not exist before around the fourth century) and it were 2600 years as ultranationalists falsely claim, this would clearly serve to make matters only worse..
It doesnt matter how far back recorded history goes, the Emperors Y chromosome goes back to the original 'Adam' that all current y chromes descend from. And yes you are right in that some Y chrome lines die out, it happens all the time as you say. But I bet that there are men, somewhere in Japan, that share the same Y chrome as the Emperor, through an line that might have split off from the Emperors many centuries or millenia ago.
However there does seem to be something at work against the Imperial families male line. Do you know much about the female lines. Are there many families descended from daughters that are doing better? Or have daughters also been irregular breeders?
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  #804  
Old 08-14-2012, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by fearghas View Post
It doesnt matter how far back recorded history goes, the Emperors Y chromosome goes back to the original 'Adam' that all current y chromes descend from. And yes you are right in that some Y chrome lines die out, it happens all the time as you say. But I bet that there are men, somewhere in Japan, that share the same Y chrome as the Emperor, through an line that might have split off from the Emperors many centuries or millenia ago.
Yes, you are certainly right in that. Not every prince born into the imperial families would be allowed to keep his status and have a family of his own, at the same time. „Spare“ princes had two career options. They could “descend” to subject status with a noble title or enter the Buddhist priesthood as the head of a temple. That means that quite a few noble families should have an „imperial“ Y chromosome, and the same goes even for commoners: also in noble families non-successor sons could choose between becoming a monk and setting up their own house independently, in which case they had to give up their noble status and become a commoner. To my knowledge, it has never once happened that such men were restored to the imperial rank of their forefathers or were considered as imperial heirs. (If there was a need for an heir, the collateral princely houses would provide it.) But as far as genetics are concerned, those nobles and commoners are related to the imperial family alright. However, there have been no such cases of “descent” during the last two centuries because imperial male offspring was rather scarce during that the time. For quite some time, there was always but one surviving imperial son who would follow his father on the throne when the time came.

But the fact that commoners can boast imperial ancestors and are genetically related to them does not necessarily mean that they have still the identical y chromosome that was passed on to them from an emperor of the fourteenth century (or whenever). As I said, the human Y chromosome is particularly exposed to high mutation rates. So, it is actually quite possible that the Y chromosome of the imperial line is today rather different than in the fourteenth century, and this not because of a concubine´s “drunken moment”, but because of mutation. The “origin” of the Y chromosome of the commoner of today and of the imperial family of today may be the same fourteenth century emperor. But it is possible that time has considerably changed the shape of both of them. This need not necessarily have been for worse. Maybe the commoner descendant is producing a dozen sons alright (well, admittedly improbable in today´s Japan but just for the sake of the argument...) And, theoretically, it would, of course, have been also possible that the “shape” that the Y chromosome took in the imperial family could have been for the better (in terms of fertility/procreation). The point is just that present evidence seems to hint at the fact that although it could have, it actually has not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fearghas View Post
However there does seem to be something at work against the Imperial families male line. Do you know much about the female lines. Are there many families descended from daughters that are doing better? Or have daughters also been irregular breeders?
The four surviving daughters of Emperor Meiji (1852 – 1912), the great grandfather of the present emperor, had all 2-4 children, respectively, among them at least one son. Two of the four surviving daughters of the Shōwa Emperor Hirohito (1901 - 1989) did not have any children, one had one son, the fourth had 5 children. Of the two daughters of Prince Mikasa, a cousin of the present emperor, one has one son, the other has two sons and a daughter. This is admittedly scarce material to base an opinion about the state of the genes of the female members of the imperial family upon. But for the time before the Meiji emperor, frankly, I do not know. The daughters had never any succession rights, unlike in European monarchies, so it was irrelevant for the monarchy if they produced any offspring. Of course, it would be theoretically possible to get more information on this subject but I think you would have to have access to Japanese sources to find out details.

However, for the sake of completeness, I would also like to mention that, for centuries it had been the custom that imperial princesses married a member of the Fujiwara clan, if possible. Also, until the marriage of the Emperor Shōwa to Princess Nagako Kuni, the principal consorts of emperors had always come from the Fujiwara clan. It is interesting that for several generations before Hirohito the mother of the heir had not been the principal consort of the emperor, but a concubine. I think it is possible that this was the result of this inbreeding, of imperial princesses marrying Fujiwaras and emperors marrying Fujiwara girls. (But, of course, this part of the story should be irrelevant to the state of things today.)
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  #805  
Old 08-30-2012, 04:24 AM
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Struck me as weird to require that Princesses who marry outside the family lose their status and membership of the Imperial family. Fair enough if there is a large extended family to choose from but the situation of the modern Imperial family means that they are forced to choose between a loss of status or marrying a close cousin.
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  #806  
Old 08-30-2012, 07:45 PM
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I agree with you. That rule must have made sense at some point, but with only three heirs to the throne, something has to be changed.
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  #807  
Old 08-31-2012, 05:06 AM
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There was a time when it was common enough for members of the Imperial family to have 5 children or more: just to keep on going until there was an heir and a spare, I suppose.

Taisho and Teimei had 4 children, all boys. Hirohito had 7 children, with 2 boys.
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  #808  
Old 08-31-2012, 05:28 AM
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Well, Taisho did not have any brothers, so he had to produce sons if he did not want the throne to go to a collateral branch that was but remotely related to the main family.

But even in Hirohito´s generation not everybody had a bunch of children. In fact, two of his three brothers, although married, did not have any offspring at all (for whatever reason). That means that it is not absolutely correct to say that today the young princesses “are forced to choose between a loss of status or marrying a close cousin“ - because there are no close cousins. The only bachelor belonging to the imperial family is Emperor Akihito´s cousin Prince Katsura (born in 1948), who has been paralyzed from the waist down since suffering a series of strokes in May 1988 and uses a wheelchair. That´s it. Under the current law, the princesses have to remain single if they want to keep their status. (I would presume that marrying Hisahito is for none of them an option.)
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  #809  
Old 08-31-2012, 05:34 AM
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The Imperial House Law 1889, Article XLIV, states that:
A female member of the Imperial Family, who is married to a subject, shall be excluded from membership in the Imperial Family. However, she may be allowed, by special grace of the Emperor to retain her title of naishinnô or nyoô, as the case may be.
The 1889 law was replaced by the Imperial House Law 1947. Article 12 states that:
In case a female of the Imperial Family marries a person other than the Emperor or the members of the Imperial Family, she shall lose the status of the Imperial Family member.
So there does not appear to be a major historical reason to deprive princesses of their membership of the Imperial House.
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Old 08-31-2012, 06:18 AM
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No, basically, there is not. But things have changed in so far as in former times imperial princesses would marry members from the collateral branches or at least someone from the nobility, often a prince from the powerful Fujiwara clan. To my knowledge, in the past there has never been an example of a princess marrying a mere commoner. But after World War II, everybody was reduced to commoner status except the emperor and the members of his immediate family. That means that the “gap” between imperial princesses and whoever they marry has become immense today, in terms of status.

This being said, you are completely right. In fact, the rule you quote has also been referred to during the ongoing discussions about the status of the princesses, and has been used to justify the proposal to let them retain their titles but not their status.

Still, if this should come to pass it would by far not solve all problems. First, it would not help the succession issue at all. And second, if it were but the princesses who could keep their titles or maybe their status, but their husbands and, in particular, their children would still be commoners, the same problem they have now: the decrease of imperial family members, would be sure to appear again in the next generation. Even if the princesses should be allowed to keep their titles, in the generation after Hisahito the imperial family would solely consist of whatever children he produces. If he produces any...
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  #811  
Old 08-31-2012, 04:26 PM
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Yeah, it doesn't look good, since Hisahito is the only boy in his generation.
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  #812  
Old 10-05-2012, 07:35 AM
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The Japanese government proposed on Friday enabling female members of the imperial family to establish their own imperial branches after marriage to commoners, amid concern over the falling number of royal household members and the heavy burden on the emperor. The establishment of female imperial branches "should be considered" only for daughters and granddaughters of the emperor, the government proposal says. [...]

The proposal, which clarifies points to be discussed concerning the status of female imperial family members, also lists both ideas to give and not to give imperial status to the husband and children of a princess who establishes her own imperial branch. It says the idea of retaining the title of princess after marriage to allow them to engage in imperial activities "would be difficult to implement" in light of Japan's Constitution that stipulates equality under the law.

The proposal mentions an idea to give such female imperial family members status as national public servants to remain involved in royal activities. In creating a new system, the proposal says the government would make sure that opinions of the female imperial family members will be reflected and that the system would not be an obstacle for their marriage. The government will take public comments on the proposal over a period of about two months with an aim to map out a draft amendment to the Imperial Household Law and submit it to the ordinary Diet session next year, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said. [...]

The proposal drew positive responses from the Imperial Household Agency. An agency official said it was "significant" the government listed the points of discussion as a way to deal with the decreasing number of imperial members. Another official expressed hope that discussions over the matter "would move forward" after the government gathers opinions from the public. [...]

Yasuhiro Okudaira, an honorary professor at the University of Tokyo, said discussion should take place about the expected roles of the emperor and the imperial family in Japanese society, even before whether to create imperial branches is discussed.
October 05, 2012(Mainichi Japan)

One should add that Prime Minister Noda promised in August to call new elections "soon", and watchers have expected him to do this in November of this year. If he should do that, there is a high probability that through these elections the LDP would come back to power. Considering that the LDP´s top candidate is the ultraconservative Shinzo Abe, it can be safely assumed that if that happens, all these plans to establish female-line imperial branches will be moot. On the other hand, leaving his promise aside, Noda is "technically" obliged to call elections at the very latest by August 2013. In this case, there should be sufficient time to go through with the changes - if, and this may be a big "if", Noda is resolved on doing it and willing to face opposition that he will inevitably meet from ultranationalists.

Thinning ranks prompt idea to retain princesses married to commoners
New concept of Imperial female branches mulled
Quote:
The government proposed on Friday enabling female members of the Imperial family to establish their own Imperial branches after marriage to commoners, amid concern over the falling number of royal household members. [...]

Among the 21 Imperial family members under Emperor Akihito are eight unmarried females, including Princess Aiko, 10, the daughter of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, and Prince Akishino's two daughters, Princess Mako, 20, and Princess Kako, 17. The three princesses would be subject to the new system if it is created. [...]

The matter has come into focus due to concern the Imperial family may not be able to maintain its activities in a stable manner given the large number of female members compared with male members.
The Japan Times, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012


Amendment proposed allowing female royals to create imperial branches
Quote:
Some parts of Japanese law might finally be catching up to the 21st century. The Japanese government is proposing an amendment to a law that will allow female members of the royal family to retain their imperial status after marriage to a commoner. The changes reflect the growing concerns over problems with the number of males in the royal household.
The Japan Daily Press, October 5, 2012
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  #813  
Old 10-06-2012, 12:04 PM
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It is a welcome development. Given the current realities, the IHA has to allow Princesses to retain their titles. It would be fair to say that the IHA may choose spouses with a good lineage.
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  #814  
Old 10-07-2012, 07:46 AM
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Govt should deepen discussions to maintain Imperial activities
Quote:
The government has released a summary review of its proposal for future Imperial family systems, based on experts' opinions. It states that consideration should be given to the idea of enabling female members to retain their Imperial status after marriage to commoners and to create their own Imperial branches.

We consider this idea reasonable. It is also understandable that the government would limit such retention of Imperial status only to naishinno princesses--daughters and granddaughters of the Emperor--to curb fiscal spending. [...]

Six of the eight unmarried female members of the Imperial family, including Princess Mako, the eldest daughter of Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, have already reached the age of majority. If discussions over the status of Imperial women is prolonged, it could affect their marriage prospects. In light of this, it is rational for the government to speed up work to consider creating female Imperial branches with the understanding that opinions of the female Imperial family members will be reflected.

In the latest discussion, the government made sure that no revisions would be made to Article 1 of the Imperial House Law, which says that only male descendants from the male line of Imperial ancestors can succeed to the throne. The government stopped short of taking up the issue of Imperial succession probably because it gave top priority to moving the discussion forward without letting it stall over a controversial matter. [...]

During hearings from experts, some of them expressed strong opposition to the idea of creating female Imperial branches. They criticized the idea because creating such a system could make it possible for a member of a female line to succeed to the throne, and that would break Imperial traditions. Apparently taking such a view into consideration, the summary review calls for female Imperial branches to exist for only one generation.
The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 6, 2012

Japanese princesses could start new imperial branches

Quote:
[...] While the government concluded that consideration should be given to the creation of Imperial branches to cope with the decreasing number of Imperial family members, it also included an alternative plan to allow female members to engage in Imperial activities by maintaining official status even after becoming commoners through marriage. The government is considering limiting the target of this proposal to naishinno princesses as well. [...]

The summary listed two possibilities regarding this plan--granting Imperial status to the husbands and children of Imperial women, and not doing so. Under the first option, it is stipulated that the children would lose their Imperial status upon marrying. It also is stated that there is "no historical precedent" for giving the status to such husbands and children. In the second option, the summary said measures should be taken to handle such issues as the family registry of such husbands and children. [...]

Some experts, who opposed the creation of new Imperial family branches, had proposed during the hearings that female members be allowed to continue using their Imperial titles, such as naishinno and "joo," for the Emperor's female descendants in the third or later generations, to engage in Imperial activities even after marriage. But the government concluded it would be "difficult to implement," as granting such titles to former Imperial family members might constitute a violation of equality for all under the Constitution, a government source said. [...]

Following the compilation of the summary, the government intends to devise a draft revision of the Imperial House Law after consulting the ruling and opposition parties and submitting the legislation to an ordinary Diet session next year at the earliest. But as Liberal Democratic Party President Shinzo Abe takes a cautious stance on the creation of Imperial branches by female Imperial family members, talks between political parties may proceed with difficulty, observers said.
The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network
Saturday, Oct 06, 2012

Japan govt pushes plan for female imperial branches
By Junya Hashimoto and Takeshi Okimura
Quote:
Concerned over the future of the Imperial family, the government in a report released Friday called for allowing princesses to create their own Imperial branches, though support for the solution is far from unanimous. The administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will be tested over whether it can convince the Liberal Democratic Party and other opposition parties to cooperate in revising the Imperial House Law to achieve the proposal. [...]

In Friday's report, the government expressed clear concern over the Imperial family system. "If the current system continues, we are gravely concerned the number of Imperial family members able to support the Emperor in his duties or act as his proxy in constitutional duties will approach zero," the report said. [...]

Many of the experts interviewed supported allowing princesses to create their own branches, and polls have showed the public agrees. A national Yomiuri Shimbun poll in December showed the idea had 64 per cent support. However, some of the experts interviewed opposed the idea, saying it would be a stepping stone to allowing women or descendants of female Imperial family members to take the throne. Some Diet members, particularly in the Liberal Democratic Party, also oppose the idea, making it difficult for the government to reach a consensus.

The issue fell by the wayside in the last ordinary Diet session as Noda focused on passing bills on the integrated reform of the social security and tax systems. [...]

The Imperial Household Agency has become increasingly anxious over the newly surfaced proposal [to allow princesses to continue using their imperial honorary status even after leaving the royal family], and its worries reportedly stem from the concerns of the Emperor himself over the future of the Imperial family. As the Emperor strictly complies with Article 4 of the Constitution, which stipulates that the Emperor will have no government-related powers, the government has refrained from asking him and other members of the Imperial family their opinions on whether princesses should be allowed to create their own branches. However, the Emperor has received reports on the interviews that were conducted with experts over the matter, as well as on the developments of discussions over the creation of new branches. Without asking directly, the Imperial Household Agency surmised the opinions of the Emperor and Imperial family members who would be directly affected by the change in the Imperial family system, and quietly reported its views to the government, a senior agency official said.

In the first place, the idea of allowing Imperial women to continue using their honorary Imperial status even after leaving the royal family was fundamentally flawed, as it would not curb the decline in the royal population. [...] A senior agency official expressed relief Friday over the government's report. "The decrease in the number of Imperial family members is unlikely to change in the near future. I hope the government will continue to discuss the issue even if the administration changes," he said. [...]

The government hopes to achieve a unanimous vote on any revision to the [Imperial House Law], considering the sensitivity of the matter. However, with opposition parties controlling the House of Councillors, it will be difficult to pass a bill without the cooperation of the LDP and other opposition parties. At a press conference Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura called for the parties to work together, saying that the issue "should not be used for political confrontation." However, conservative lawmakers, including new LDP President Shinzo Abe, are sceptical of allowing princesses to create their own Imperial branches. [...]
The Noda administration has become increasingly unstable, with many Democratic Party of Japan members leaving the party in recent months. Noda must show he remains as committed to the issue as he claimed to be last year.
The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network
Sunday, Oct 07, 2012
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  #815  
Old 10-07-2012, 08:29 AM
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Japan princesses' desires to get priority
By Natsuki Komatsu
Quote:
Giving top priority to the desires of each individual princess is to be a central principle in the government's review of allowing female Imperial family members to create new Imperial branches, according to a government official in charge of the matter.

The proposed changes to the Imperial family system would apply to Princesses Aiko, Mako and Kako among the current Imperial family. If all three princesses expressed their will to leave the Imperial family after marriage with commoners, it would be difficult to prevent a decline in the number of the Imperial family members and would render the new system ineffective as a way to keep the Imperial family sustainable. Nevertheless, the government chose to give top priority to the princesses' wishes for reasons of compassion. Princesses born into the Imperial family are raised on the understanding that they will leave the Imperial family when they marry and may have their own future dreams or visions. The government wants to avoid imposing constraints on the princess by allowing them to determine their own lives. The government principle reflected the views of members of the Imperial family to some extent.
The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network Sunday, Oct 07, 2012
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  #816  
Old 10-07-2012, 12:03 PM
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That sounds like a pretty sensible approach to me.

Those female members of the Imperial Family who are ready to dedicate their lives to serving the Imperial Family and representing the Emperor should be given the chance to form their own branches. Obviously, they will also be financially supported by the state to perform their official engagements.

Those female members of the Imperial Family who would rather seek their fortune elsewhere and have other plans should not be forced to become dynasts. They will become untitled commoners, like Sayako did, and not perform any engagements on behalf of the Emperor; of course, they also will not receive any financial aid from the state.

I think the only females who must have automatic rights to form separate branches of the family are the daughters of the reigning Emperor (like Sayako) and those of the Heir Apparent (like Aiko).
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:20 PM
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But what does it mean they are going to start their own branches? Currently a female cannot inherit the throne but she is going to be able to pass her princely title to her children and even daughters? I totally agree that Japanese princesses should not lose their status and titles upon marriage but an idea that they can form their own branches of the Imperial Family is ridiculous.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:56 PM
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I do not understand what is the need to form a seperate branch to assist The Emperor? His daughters can always represent him, as Her Imperial Highness The Princess of Japan..For example, Princess Anne has commoner husband and commoner kids, but she carries out enormous duties on the Queen's behalf..just as a Princess of Great Britain..
Similarly, once Naruhito becomes Emperor, his daughter (anyway), his brother and his daughters will carry out duties. These three girls will continue duties in reigns of Akishino and Hisahito..See.. it will be like:

Naruhito's reign: Akishino, Mako, Kako, Toshi, Hitahisho
Akishino's reign: Mako, Kako, Toshi, Hishahito
Hishahito's reign:His kids, Mako, kako,Toshi

The British model will be perfect. If you just give daughters and grand-daughters a life-title of HIH The Princess of Japan, regardless of whom they marry, and provide them State support, for carrying duties it will be gud enough.
Creating branches and extending titles to female line descendants will always complicate things..
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:58 PM
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That's what I am talking about, vkrish! It's just ridiculous.
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Old 10-11-2012, 03:02 PM
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I don't think you can impose British or other European practices on a country which has an entirely different history and culture. Calling it ridiculous is a bit much.
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