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  #1381  
Old 12-08-2021, 07:56 PM
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Touchy issues avoided in panel talks about succession | The Asahi Shimbun: Breaking News, Japan News and Analysis


Quote:
One idea is to allow female members to retain their royal status even after marriage, while the other would allow males from former branches of the imperial family to regain imperial status through adoption by the imperial family.

Those were the broad outlines agreed to at a meeting held Dec. 6 and which will be submitted to the government as the panel’s final report before year-end.

[...]

Sources said the panel is also mulling a third option in the event its two proposals fail to fix the succession issue. That alternative would allow males from former imperial branches to become members of the imperial family through law, in addition to adoption.

Given adoption would also involve modifications to the current law (which bans adoption in the imperial family), I assume the "through law" third option means simply modifying the law to grant imperial status to those men without adoption by a current member (previously suggested to be Prince Hitachi).

But if the adoption proposal is eventually rejected, how will permitting the same men to join the imperial family through an alternative "third option" be any more acceptable? Or is the panel concerned that Prince Hitachi may be uncooperative?


Quote:
Six members of the family are under the age of 40 and five are female, a number of whom have indicated they want to marry in the near future, according to Imperial Household Agency sources. Thus, family numbers will dwindle further as the law obliges them to relinquish their royal status upon marriage to a commoner.

Does "indicated they want to marry in the near future" imply multiple princesses are already privately engaged and we can expect a couple of royal weddings in the next year or two? (For the possible boyfriends, it might be prudent to marry soon before the public becomes bored of Kei Komuro and begins investigating new royal partners for possible scandals. )


Quote:
Hajime Sebata, an associate professor of modern Japanese political history at Ryukoku University in Kyoto steeped in matters related to the imperial family, referred to widespread public criticism about Mako’s marriage to Komuro over a money matter when he said: “I feel the hurdle for marriage for Kako, Aiko and Hisahito has become even higher. Finding a way to lighten the psychological stress on imperial family members regarding marriage and childbirth must be taken into account.”
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  #1382  
Old 12-09-2021, 12:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tatiana Maria View Post

Does "indicated they want to marry in the near future" imply multiple princesses are already privately engaged and we can expect a couple of royal weddings in the next year or two? (For the possible boyfriends, it might be prudent to marry soon before the public becomes bored of Kei Komuro and begins investigating new royal partners for possible scandals. )
Possibly. I've read rumours about Kiko but nothing close to concrete. I think it's inevitable that the second Kiko makes an official announcement the hunt is on to see if he's "another Kei Komuro" or if he/they can be cast as "the good one(s)" regardless of when they announce. There would probably be increased scrutiny for Mikasa and Takamado as well if they announce in the next couple of years, unfortunately.

The only really surprising event would be if Aiko announces an engagement in her early 20s. That really would put pressure on the government to decide now or never for this generation of Imperial women retaining some sort of status after marriage. Of course that also puts pressure on the type of "acceptable" husbands she and her cousins can present to the public.
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  #1383  
Old 12-20-2021, 09:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heavs View Post
Possibly. I've read rumours about Kiko but nothing close to concrete. I think it's inevitable that the second Kiko makes an official announcement the hunt is on to see if he's "another Kei Komuro" or if he/they can be cast as "the good one(s)" regardless of when they announce. There would probably be increased scrutiny for Mikasa and Takamado as well if they announce in the next couple of years, unfortunately.
I believe you mean Princess Kako, who is turning 27 this month. Princess Kiko is her mother and she is currently married to Crown Prince Fumihito.
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  #1384  
Old 12-22-2021, 12:02 PM
Majesty
 
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Panel submits 2 proposals to stop Japan royal family from shrinking - Kyodo News
Quote:
[...]

The two options -- having female members who marry commoners retain their imperial status, and allowing male heirs from former branches to be adopted into the imperial family by revising the 1947 Imperial House Law -- seek to address the dwindling number of eligible heirs.

The advisory panel did not touch on whether women or matrilineal imperial members will be eligible to ascend the throne, saying the issue "should be judged in the future," despite a call by parliament on the government to promptly hold discussions on how to achieve a stable imperial succession in a 2017 nonbinding resolution.

[...]

According to the report submitted Wednesday, the panel, chaired by former Keio University President Atsushi Seike, concluded that 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."

The report also said that women would not be given a choice about whether to remain in the imperial family after marriage to a commoner, and clarified that descendants of former branches adopted into the imperial family will not have the right to succeed to the throne.

The law currently stipulates that female royals leave the imperial family upon marrying a commoner, but the draft proposal had suggested that women would have the freedom to choose to retain their status.

In the event that the two options fail to secure a sufficient number of eligible heirs, the panel said that making male heirs from former branches imperial family members by law should be considered.

[...]

Women born into the imperial family have planned their lives on the basis they will have to give up their royal status should they marry a commoner. It is questionable if they can remain in the imperial family even after marriage without being forced due to a sudden change in the system.

Furthermore, even if women in the imperial family are able to retain their royal status, the government is leaning toward not granting such status to their spouses or children as doing so could pave the way for female monarchs or female-line emperors to which conservative elements have been staunchly opposed.

[...]

With regard to allowing male heirs from former branches to be adopted into the imperial family, there are concerns it would violate the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of family origin. The Imperial Household Law also prohibits the adoption of children.

The plan hinges on whether any of the eligible descendants actually desire to enter the imperial family, as the Constitution does not allow the government to force adoptions without the consent of involved parties.

The government has yet to confirm the intentions of any of the 11 former branches which share with the imperial family a common ancestor some 600 years ago and had to abandon their status in 1947, two years after the end of World War II.
Panel finalizes report on Imperial succession | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News
Quote:
A panel of experts convened by Japan's government has drawn up a final report on ways to ensure stable succession to the Imperial Throne. Their suggestions will now go to the Diet.

[...]

The experts' report says there should be no change to the current order in line to the throne.

It also says it is too early to discuss the succession after the generation of Prince Hisahito, who is now 15.

[...]

The panel proposes two options. One is that female members of the family remain in the household after marriage. The other is that the Imperial Family adopt male descendants of former members of the male line of the Imperial Lineage.

Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said, "My government will convey the report to the Diet and follow through on it."

The experts say the matter needs to be discussed calmly in an appropriate environment.
Japan Panel Offers 2 Plans for Stable Imperial Succession | Nippon.com
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  #1385  
Old 12-22-2021, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
A government panel tasked with studying ways to ensure a stable imperial succession [...] postponed conclusions regarding specific measures on succession.



Quote:
The report also said that women would not be given a choice about whether to remain in the imperial family after marriage to a commoner, [...] but the draft proposal had suggested that women would have the freedom to choose to retain their status.

[...] In the event that the two options fail to secure a sufficient number of eligible heirs, the panel said that making male heirs from former branches imperial family members by law should be considered.

[...] Women born into the imperial family have planned their lives on the basis they will have to give up their royal status should they marry a commoner. It is questionable if they can remain in the imperial family even after marriage without being forced due to a sudden change in the system.

The plan hinges on whether any of the eligible descendants actually desire to enter the imperial family, as the Constitution does not allow the government to force adoptions without the consent of involved parties.
Apparently the panel is having growing doubts on whether anyone (woman or man, royal-born or commoner-born) even wants to be a member of the imperial family.

Wouldn't the consent of the adopter also be necessary? Or is the panel confident that Prince Hitachi (?) would be willing to adopt any man selected for him by the government?



Quote:
In such a case, some view it would be impossible to have an imperial family member and those without royal status in one household, as members of the imperial family are bound by different rules and restrictions in such areas as political activity and career choice that do not apply to commoners.

The system also highlights a double standard in which women who wed men in the imperial family will be granted royal status along with their children, but not vice versa.
I could not agree more with these two paragraphs.




Quote:
According to the report submitted Wednesday, the panel, chaired by former Keio University President Atsushi Seike, concluded that 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."
Is "destabilize the throne" a euphemism for the fear that a succession debate would be hijacked by the part of the public that vehemently dislikes the Akishino family due to the Komuro marriage scandal, and who might press to replace the Akishinos with Aiko?



Quote:
With regard to allowing male heirs from former branches to be adopted into the imperial family, there are concerns it would violate the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of family origin.
I would not give much weight to that argument in this context since the hereditary monarchy, in and of itself, discriminates on the basis of family origin. (Naturally, from a republican standpoint, it is a strong argument for abolishing the hereditary monarchy.)


Quote:
The government has yet to confirm the intentions of any of the 11 former branches which share with the imperial family a common ancestor some 600 years ago and had to abandon their status in 1947, two years after the end of World War II.
It will be quite interesting to see whether the government will take any steps to do so. I will believe it when I see it.
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  #1386  
Old 12-24-2021, 04:19 AM
Majesty
 
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Yea... I would think adoption means both adopter and adoptee consent but who knows. Traditionalists will provide some convoluted explanation why that's not the case. A while back, there was a Sankei article (or it's English Japan-Forward version? I need to look) describing why male-only succession isn't discrimination...

This Asahi article is somewhat confusing. It seems existing princesses may choose to retain their royal status after marriage but future princesses will not.

Panel skirts succession issue, proposes key changes | The Asahi Shimbun
Quote:
[...]

The central issue facing the panel since March, when it was formed, was how to increase the number of imperial family members, rather than imperial succession, so as to ease the burden of official duties carried out by Emperor Naruhito and maintain official functions traditionally fulfilled by the family.

With regard to the first proposal, the panel’s final report went further than it did in July. At that time, it suggested that it “can be made possible to retain royal status” for female members of the family.

But the panel is now recommending that they retain their royal status, regardless of marriage, if the imperial family system is overhauled.

The proposed change would not apply to current female members.

The report stated that it should be fully noted that they “have spent their entire lives under the existing imperial system.”

The second proposal concerns the males in 11 former branches of the imperial family and how to bring them back into the fold.

[...]

However, the Imperial House Law that took effect in 1947 does not permit adoption into the imperial family. That same decree applied with the predecessor of the law established in 1889.

Adoption was ruled out on grounds it could cause confusion on the precise line of heirs to the throne.

The panel also stated in the second proposal that if males are allowed to become members of the imperial family through adoption they would be ineligible to succeed to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

That would create two categories of male members of the imperial family: heirs to the throne and male members who are not.

How to avoid possible confusion needs to be fully discussed with regard to the adoption issue, experts said.

The report also recommended allowing those males to establish their own branches of the imperial family through a revision of the law in the event the two proposals fail to halt the decline in the shrinking gene pool of imperial family members.

[...]

The panel’s report did not touch on the pros and cons of the highly contentious question of allowing a daughter of the emperor or a child of the female line of the imperial family to succeed to the throne.

[...]
Chinami Nishimura, Secretary-General of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and representative of Niigata 1st district criticizes the report. The panel of experts focused on the shrinking Imperial family rather than stable succession, including female branches and female emperor. The main request of the resolution, attached to the abdication special legislation, asks to ensure stable succession. The final report did not show any conclusions or directions regarding that issue. Nishimura plans to setup a committee within the CDP to discuss succession. She doesn't think that the report of an inadequate meeting of experts can be the basis for discussions in the Diet.

Sankei has her full statement

The CDP or another opposition party had a committee/panel on succession a few years ago... I forgot what happened to that.
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  #1387  
Old 12-24-2021, 12:04 PM
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Thanks for the update!


To be honest, I wonder why no government politician in 21st century Japan seems to have the ability to state the simple truth that implementing reforms to the monarchy will not deliver votes or other political benefits, and that is why they do not want to waste their time on it. Even as a foreigner that is not a difficult concept for me to grasp, so I see no reason why Japanese voters would not understand it.


I believe it is legitimate for a panel tasked with solving a problem to recommend that the best course of action is no action. But in those cases, I would expect the panel to present evidence that the risks would outweigh the benefits of all of the recommended solutions. I have not seen that evidence in the articles discussing the report. (Was the report itself published online?) What, exactly, would be the harmful outcomes of "prematurely" discussing succession issues before Hisahito marries?


On second thought, I wonder if the panel is bringing forward the (legitimate) problem of consent as an easy excuse for the government to leave the membership rules undisturbed: "The current princesses have planned their lives expecting to become private citizens. The current male members of the ex-princely families have planned their lives expecting to remain private citizens forever. It would be so very difficult to ascertain their free will and opinion in relation to remaining in/joining the imperial family without putting inappropriate pressure on them, and so unfair to demand they discard their life plans ..."


Quote:
Originally Posted by Prisma View Post
This Asahi article is somewhat confusing. It seems existing princesses may choose to retain their royal status after marriage but future princesses will not.
Alternatively, could it mean that existing princesses will have no choice but to leave the family while future princesses will have no choice but to remain in the family?
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  #1388  
Old 12-24-2021, 11:06 PM
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The problem about female-miyake then allowing their husbands and children become member of IF will be budget. Let's not forget that JIF is financed by taxpayers.

Women leaving their "house" and joining their husbands' "house" is not exclusive to Japan. When the Imperial House "loses" female members when they marry, the IF "gains" another female members when the male members marry. In a way, it keeps the number of Imperial members "manageable". It happened in the past wherein there's too many male members in the IF, so they were either not allowed to marry/reproduce (sending them to monastery) or demoted to be commoners.

So let's say that all current female members can start their own imperial branch and their husbands and children become members. Each only have 2 children. By the next generation, there'd be 24 members (counting only the youngest generation and assuming their parents/grandparents has passed away). It will only multiply from there, so who will be demoted/deposed? The Takamado? The Mikasa? Then we'll have the same argument of "but they've spent their lives doing royal duty, it's not fair!"
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  #1389  
Old 12-30-2021, 04:58 PM
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An expanding Imperial family should be concerning regardless of male or female-led branches yet I doubt the government or conservatives would raise a fuss for a bunch of male branches.

Any couple may be childless or remain single like Prince Katsura. Certainly no one expected Prince Mikasa's line to end as he had 3 sons.

Former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will lead the CDP committee which so far includes Sumio Mabuchi, who previously worked on the succession issue 4 years ago, and Hiroyuki Nagahama, the former Minister of the Environment.

The 3 men met for a preparatory meeting on December 27. The CDP will meet before and after the first Diet session convocation on January 17, aiming to summarize their ideas as a party.

Sources: Sankei, NHK

Another Sankei article says the CDP's criticism casts a dark cloud even before parliamentary debates have begun.

ETA: Editorial: Japan must discuss matters regarding stable Imperial Family succession - The Mainichi
Quote:
[...]

We must not forget that the Imperial Family system that serves as the foundation of Japan is maintained by actual people. Fostering an environment to ease the mental burden on Imperial Family members that comes with marriage and child birth is needed. And most of all, without the people's understanding, Japan would not be able to maintain its symbolic emperor system.

An additional resolution attached to the special measures law four and a half years ago, which allowed then Emperor Akihito to step down, requested that the government promptly engage in studying the issues regarding stable imperial succession. [...]

The government will report the panel's recommendations to the Diet, but it cannot be said that it successfully responded to the request included in the additional resolution. Expansive discussions, on more than the two proposals recently presented, must be held in the Diet about the future of the Imperial Family.
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  #1390  
Old 01-14-2022, 02:08 AM
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On January 4th, Yūichirō Tamaki of the Democratic Party for the People (DPP), announced their party will form a study group to discuss the government's report on the Imperial family/succession. In addition to the two recommendations, he believes reinstating Imperial status to male descendants of ex-Imperial branches should be considered.

Source: Sankei

Kishida Gives Diet Plans to Bolster Imperial Family Ranks | Nippon.com
Quote:
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida informed the chairs of both chambers of the Diet, Japan's parliament, on Wednesday of two plans proposed by a panel of experts to shore up the shrinking ranks of the Imperial Family.

[...]

[Lower House Speaker Hiroyuki] Hosoda expressed his readiness to convene representatives of parliamentary groups to launch discussions early next week. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno is due to explain details of the report to parliamentary groups on Tuesday.
Parties split on imperial throne succession as report submitted | The Asahi Shimbun
Quote:
[...]

When being handed the report, Upper House President Akiko Santo said, “(Imperial succession) is a very important issue that concerns the basis of how our country is.”

Lower House Speaker Hiroyuki Hosoda said he would convene representatives from political parties next week and ask them to study the report.

[...]

The report also didn’t discuss whether to permit a daughter of the emperor or a child of the female line of the imperial family to ascend to the throne.

Therefore, the report didn’t explore the crucial issue of how Japan can maintain stable imperial succession in the future. A former Cabinet minister describes the report as “a halfway job, even reversing the discussion on imperial succession.”

In the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the persistent view is that only a male from the paternal line of the family should inherit the throne. Toshimitsu Motegi, the LDP’s secretary-general, praised the report by saying, “It is a very well-balanced report.”

He suggested that the issue of imperial succession needs a careful discussion, by saying, “Things should be moved forward in a quiet setting.”

[...]

However, political parties privately don’t want detailed discussions on imperial succession to occur soon, to avoid having it become a key issue during this summer’s Upper House election campaign.
EDITORIAL: Panel’s report on fixing imperial system unlikely to win support | The Asahi Shimbun
Quote:
[...]

With regard to the first proposal, the report stated that even if female members of the family are allowed to retain their royal status after marriage, their spouses or children may possibly not be allowed to join the imperial family.

This statement appears to declare that children of female members of the imperial family will never be heirs to the throne even if this requires adopting a convoluted system that could lead to a situation where members of the family live together with commoners.

This approach also runs counter to the expert panel’s avowed mission of coming up with viable ideas for increasing the number of imperial family members so as to ease the burden of official duties carried out by Naruhito.

As for the adoption approach, the report said only males should be allowed to be adopted into the imperial family.

[...]

In an apparent response to the view that allowing these people back into the fold now would not go down well with the public, the report stated that if males are allowed to become members of the imperial family through adoption they would not be eligible to succeed to the throne.

But it did not refer to the question of whether children born to these families should be deemed imperial heirs, showing a clear difference from its effective snub to the idea of allowing children of female members to ascend the throne.

Even if the second approach is chosen, the long-term sustainability of the imperial succession system cannot be ensured as long as only males with patrilineal lineage can come to hold the throne. People who are adopted into the imperial family and their family members would be under strong pressure to produce male heirs.

[...]

The imperial system in a democratic society can continue to exist only if it is supported by a broad range of the public. With diversity in values among the Japanese expected to grow further in the coming years, it is open to question whether the proposals made by the panel would ensure long-term stability in activities and succession of the imperial family.

Another question for both proposals is how the will of individuals involved should be respected.

[...]
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  #1391  
Old 01-16-2022, 01:29 AM
Majesty
 
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Member's only Nikkei interview with Hiroaki Fushimi (89), 24th head of former Fushimi-no-miya which is head of the 11 ex-Imperial branches. He discusses his prewar royal life and interactions with the Emperor Emeritus.

The headline translates: Strongly conscious of "protecting the imperial family"

Hiroaki Fushimi has 3 daughters. His uncle Hironobu Kachō has male descendants who could be adopted to continue the branch? Hironobu was appointed to succeed Kachō-no-miya but that branch lost Imperial status in 1926, and Hironobu received the title of marquis under the kazoku peerage system.

Another uncle, Prince Hirohide Fushimi renounced Imperial status in 1936 and was allowed to establish his own household as Count Fushimi. Hirohide did not have sons so he adopted his brother Marquis Hironobu Kachō's younger son Hirotaka as heir. It appears Hirotaka did not have sons. Hirohide's 4th daughter Yoshiko married Ino Kazou who adopted the Fushimi surname and became Hirotaka's heir/adoptee.

EDITORIAL | Advice for Protecting Stable Succession of the Imperial Line - Japan Forward
Quote:
First, we would like to commend the portions of the under-mentioned report intended to protect the most important principle of imperial succession, which is male (patrilineal) succession.

[...]

While the report does leave something to be desired, the important point is that it recommends measures to secure the number of members of the Imperial Family. Put together as a matter of urgency, its proposed steps would support the stable succession of the male line.

[...]

Denying royal status to the husbands and children of female members of the Imperial Family is an extremely valid argument. It is absolutely essential to protect the imperial line, which has been preserved by the male line of succession.

The expert panel expressed the view that any adopted male members of the Imperial Family would not be eligible to accede to the throne themselves. Although we believe there is room for reconsideration since these male members of the royal family are part of the imperial line, at the least their children, who would be born members of the royal family, should be eligible to accede to the throne.

The role of the emperor is to pray for the peace for our nation and our people. As the report concludes, measures should be taken in a “peaceful environment” to reinforce the imperial line.
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  #1392  
Old 02-07-2022, 10:31 PM
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During the House of Representatives Budget committee on February 7th, Fumitake Fujita asked Vice Grand Steward Ikeda Kenji about IHA providing management support of Kikuei Shinbokuka ("Kikuei Fellowship"), a voluntary social organization run by the Imperial family and the 11 former Imperial branches stripped of their status in October 1947.

Ikeda declined to mention specific support measures, except the IHA takes care of the Imperial family both in public and private. Kikuei Shinbokuka meet about once every 5 years and the latest gathering was on May 18, 2014 at Akasaka East residence to celebrate then-Emperor Akihito's 80th birthday.

Source: Sankei

Fumitake Fujita is the 12th district of Osaka representative and Secretary-General of the Nippon Ishin no Kai, a conservative and right-wing populist political party.

Group photo on April 24, 1994
https://twitter.com/sandofstar555/st...55639707877380

Imperial family and relatives arriving for the "Kikuei Shinbokuka" 1994 meeting: Getty Images
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  #1393  
Old 06-15-2022, 05:21 AM
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Opinions Divided on Bolstering Imperial Family with Former Branches | Nippon.com by Saitō Katsuhisa
Quote:
[...]

Among the specialists at the hearing who supported the restoration of male descendants from former branches, a journalist stated that these branches had a long tradition of being part of the family, adding that if others accepted men with no connection to the family gaining imperial status by marrying princesses, it should not be strange to accept the restoration of those who had been part of the family until just several decades ago. A university professor said that there should be a special law to enact the change, and that if young people with historic claims were welcomed to the family, it would be easy for the public to embrace them.

Among those who opposed such an action, a former supreme court justice laid the emphasis on blood claims, saying that a female member of the family who was closely related would be more fitting as emperor than a male member with distant claims. An emeritus professor warned that adding new members to the family might be seen as a schism in imperial tradition.

Reflecting this divided discussion, a January 2022 survey by NHK found that 41% of respondents agreed and 37% disagreed with the idea of adopting male descendants from former branches. With neither side approaching a majority, one senses the public’s mixed feelings.

[...]
Challenging the Myth of the Male Emperor: New Light on the Society of Ancient Japan | Nippon.com by Yoshie Akiko
Quote:
[...]

Who Was Himiko?
It was also around that time that Yoshie embarked on a major study of Himiko, a figure known to us from an account in the third-century Chinese dynastic history Records of the Three Kingdoms. The record, known to Japanese scholars as the “Gishi Wajin den” (Account of the People of Wa in the Chronicle of Wei), speaks of Himiko as the queen of Yamatai, a country in the land of Wa, meaning Japan. It states that a group of chieftains “jointly installed” Himiko as their ruler to put an end to years of civil war. It also refers to her as a shaman-queen and states that she ruled with the help of her younger brother.

[...]

Yoshie believes that the “Gishi Wajin den” must be interpreted in the context of recent archeological and historical findings, on the understanding that the account reflects the biases of ancient China’s strictly patriarchal, patrilineal society. Rereading the text carefully with all this in mind, Yoshie became more and more convinced that Himiko was personally in charge of her country’s government and diplomacy.

For example, one reason historians have minimized Himiko’s political and diplomatic role is that the “Gishi Wajin den” claims she never appeared in person before foreign emissaries. But as Yoshie sees it, her concealment is compelling evidence that she was a ruling monarch. “The Yamato monarchs never showed themselves to outsiders until the late seventh century, when the construction of the Chinese-style Fujiwara Palace created a space for them to hold audiences with foreign emissaries,” she notes.

Archeological analyses of the contents of Japan’s burial mounds, or kofun, suggest that there were women as well as men chieftains up and down the Japanese archipelago, with women making up anywhere from 30% to 50% of the total. Some of these women were buried with weaponry. As Yoshie sees it, Himiko’s “joint installation” as ruler over some 30 such chieftains occurred in the context of a society where women participated in government on an equal footing with men.

According to the “Gishi Wajin-den,” the Wei kingdom conferred on Himiko the title of “Queen of Wa and Friend of Wei”—a testament, in Yoshie’s view, to Himiko’s diplomatic prowess.

Shining a Light on Empress Suiko
Between the end of the sixth century and the third quarter of the eighth century, six women—representing eight separate reigns—ascended to Japan’s imperial throne: Suiko, Kōgyoku/Saimei, Jitō, Genmei, Genshō, and Kōken/Shōtoku. In fact, women accounted for roughly half of the emperors during this crucial period in the early history of Japan and the imperial court. Yet historians have treated them as if they were just “transitional heirs,” drafted on an ad hoc basis to prevent a break in the male line.

Yoshie feels that history has been particularly unfair to the first of these, Empress Suiko (r. 592–628). The daughter of Emperor Kinmei and Soga no Kitashihime, of the powerful Soga clan, Suiko reigned for a full 36 years, a period that saw important progress in the enterprise of nation building, supported by the introduction of Buddhism. Yet credit for those achievements tends to go to Suiko’s uncle, Soga no Umako, and to her nephew, the regent Prince Shōtoku (574–622).

[...]

During this period in history, says Yoshie, the title of king or emperor was conferred on a person whose leadership the heads of the country’s powerful clans could accept [...] Yoshie believes that the selection of a leader among eligible heirs was determined less by gender than by age and experience; one had to be close to 40 years old to qualify.

The Chronicle of Japan records that Empress Suiko’s father, feeling he was too young and inexperienced to become emperor at age 31, initially asked the wife of a previous emperor to take the throne in his stead, but she refused. As Yoshie sees it, the account (historical inconsistencies notwithstanding) can be taken as evidence that wisdom and experience were regarded as more important than gender.

[...]

When Empress Suiko took the throne, she was 39 years old; Prince Shōtoku, then known as Umayado, was only around 20. Given the prevailing emphasis on age and experience, it seems unlikely to Yoshie that Prince Shōtoku would have managed affairs of state on Suiko’s behalf. Yoshie also questions the widely held belief that Suiko was essentially the puppet of her powerful uncle, Soga no Umako.

“The uncle and niece were only separated by two years,” she points out. “I’m inclined to view them as intimates from childhood, brought up together in the same matrilocal household of the Soga clan—two equals who shared similar ideas about nation building via the introduction and spread of Buddhism.”

Ancient Japan’s “Bilineal” Society
[...]

“The principle of patrilineality wasn’t codified in Japan until the late seventh century, when the court embraced the Ritsuryō system modeled on the institutions of Tang China. But I believe that bilineality persisted in Japanese society, including the ruling class, up through the eighth century or so,” Yoshie says. She notes that the family tree of Prince Shōtoku as depicted in the Tenjukoku mandala shūchō, dating to 622, clearly reveals an equal emphasis on the male and female lines of descent. The Chronicle of Japan, by contrast, tends to emphasize the male line, reflecting the growing influence of Chinese norms within Japanese officialdom.

[...]
Securing the Succession: The Historical Role of Japan’s Imperial Family Cadet Branches | Nippon.com by Saitō Katsuhisa
Quote:
[...]

More than 50 Children
Men born into cadet families had to be specially adopted to become part of the imperial family, as those defined as shinnō imperial princes were either brothers or sons of the emperor. Among those who did not join the imperial family, many of the sons of cadet branches found employment as the head priests at major Buddhist temples.

In the nineteenth century, Prince Kuniie of the Fushimi cadet branch had more than 50 children, raising the family’s fortunes. Around the time of the Meiji Restoration in 1868, his sons successively relinquished their positions at temples and returned to secular life. This is thought to have been influenced by the desire among Meiji statesmen like Iwakura Tomomi to distance the imperial court from Buddhism.

On their return, the Fushimi sons lost the names they took on as temple heads, receiving new names as the heads of collateral branches, such as Yamashina-no-miya, Kaya-no-miya, and Higashifushimi-no-miya. Initially these were intended to last for a single generation, but they later became hereditary.

The Kan’in branch, which lacked successors, adopted another son of Prince Kuniie to continue its line. This was Kotohito, Prince Kan’in, who went on to become an army field marshal.

[...]

Managing the Family Size
[...] By the end of the Meiji era (1868–1912), there were 13 collateral branches; the Katsura cadet branch had gone extinct, but the number of Fushimi collateral branches had increased. Overall, the rise in the total number of branches may have been caused by Emperor Meiji’s concerns about the succession due to the poor state of health of his son, the crown prince and future Emperor Taishō.

The increase, however, put some financial strain on the imperial family, and new legislation in 1920 was intended to limit its size to those close in blood to the emperor. By this time, apart from the emperor’s immediate relatives, the family consisted of descendants of Prince Kuniie, and the legislation would have removed all of them. However, special exceptions were made for the lines of the eldest sons in each of the branches down to Kuniie’s great-grandsons, while other members were downgraded into the aristocracy. This removed around a dozen members from the imperial family.

[...]
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  #1394  
Old 06-20-2022, 04:09 PM
Majesty
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Bay Area, United States
Posts: 6,146
Royal Reduction: The Postwar Downsizing of Japan’s Imperial Family by Saitō Katsuhisa
Quote:
[...]

A Reduced Imperial Family
The formal decision to remove 51 imperial family members in 11 collateral branches, including 26 men in line to the throne, came at a meeting in October 1947. Prime Minister Katayama Tetsu noted that there was no need for concern about the succession at that time. After the reduction, there would still be Emperor Shōwa’s two sons, including the future Emperor Akihito, his three younger brothers, and one nephew.

Of the 51 people who left the family, 40 received one-off payments, excluding those with military records. The total outlay amounted to ¥47.5 million.

[...]

Selling to Live
Great changes awaited the former imperial family members, though. Fushimi Hiroaki, who was 15 when his imperial status was removed in 1947 and is now 90, recalled in a book he wrote:

“We had to pay a huge, unprecedented amount of tax, and the one-off sum we received was decided unilaterally, and soon disappeared. So, the former imperial family members had to sell to live. My branch’s land became the Hotel New Otani, and that belonging to the Takeda-no-miya became the Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa. But some branches had lived on Ministry of the Imperial Household land. For example, the Kaya branch really struggled to get by.”

He also noted that some of the newly ordinary citizens lost their assets through their inexperience in business, or by being cheated by criminals.

[...]

[Higashikuni Naruhiko's son] Morihiro had married Princess Shigeko, the eldest daughter of Emperor Shōwa, in 1943. There are stories that she propped up the family finances at times by doing piecework and lining up at local stores’ sales. Her account in a magazine that these hard times allowed her to find human happiness for the first time was also much talked about. However, whether related to these changes in lifestyle or not, she died of cancer at the young age of 35, leaving five children. The deep grief of her parents, the imperial couple, was such that they broke with tradition by attending the funeral of a “common citizen.”

Renewed Imperial Status?
Even after leaving the imperial family the former collateral branches maintain some connection. A group called the Kikuei Shinbokukai was established to promote friendship, with gatherings arranged from time to time. [...]

The former members also attend events like the emperor’s birthday and New Year celebrations, and they were present at Emperor Shōwa’s funeral. On such occasions, they are ranked behind the imperial family, but ahead of citizen representatives, including the prime minister.

[...]

Fushimi Hiroaki wrote passionately on the topic in a recent book. “If his imperial majesty ordered me to return to the family, or the state asked me to, I feel I would have to do so.” However, he also said that it would not be possible to suddenly become an imperial prince.

It is now 75 years since the collateral branches lost imperial status. While they include some elderly members, the descendants of those subject to the initial 1947 action have been raised as ordinary citizens since their birth. It is asking a lot to expect them to instantly become part of the imperial family. This seems to be what Fushimi was saying.

[...]
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  #1395  
Old 06-28-2022, 09:25 PM
Majesty
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Bay Area, United States
Posts: 6,146
Former imperial family member is cautious about any royal return | The Asahi Shimbun (includes 6 photos)
Quote:
Hiroaki Fushimi has led a “double life”--first as a member of the imperial family and then as a commoner after the end of World War II.

Fushimi, 90, recently published a book whose title is tentatively translated as “Born to the Fushimi family, the head of the former imperial family houses.”

In the book, the former prince expressed loyalty to the imperial family and the government if he is enlisted to help by returning to the imperial family.

“We would have no choice but to follow if the emperor, as well as the government, tells us to return to the imperial family,” Fushimi noted in the book.

The comment caused a stir as he appeared to have a positive stand on returning to the imperial family.

[...]

When asked about his views during a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun, however, Fushimi took a more cautious stance.

“There are various views,” he said. “I am going to see how future discussions will go.”

[...]

He took refuge with then Crown Prince Akihito in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, to the north of Tokyo during the war.

Fushimi became the head of the Fushimi house at 14 following the death of his grandfather in 1946.

[...]

He later traveled to the United States to study, hoping to become a diplomat. After his return to Japan, he landed a position with an oil company.

Although he was no longer a member of the imperial family, employees of a prospective business partner that he pitched a business deal to were aware of his background and treated him to dinner while addressing him as “Prince.”

The book evolved from a series of interviews he granted to a researcher who asked him about his life, including his close exchanges with now Emperor Emeritus Akihito, at the encouragement of Akihito’s wife, now Empress Emerita Michiko.

Michiko called him to convey her gratitude when he sent a copy of the book to her. She said the book allowed her a glimpse into her husband’s life before they were married.
YTV News video about Hiroaki Fushimi in June
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