Succession and Membership Issues


If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.
I'm not saying Hisahito will be forced to marry a chosen girl tomorrow. It's illegal anyway (the legal marriage age in Japan is 18 with parents' approval, 20 without parents' approval)

And what is "love match"?

Here's a story:
When he was 16, Michi-no-miya was presented with several selected wife candidates. Those young girls participated in a tea ceremony while he watched them unseen behind the screen. He chose Nagako, 14. They had six-year courtship in which she also underwent education to be a Crown Princess. When she failed to produce a son after a decade of marriage, the court persuaded him to take concubines, but he refused. In the end, she did give birth to two sons.

So is this marriage a "love match" or not (since it was the courtiers sorting through eligible girls for him to choose)?

Who's to know if Fumihito didn't go through similar process, but instead of tea ceremony, the setting was Gakushuin University?

Note: Michi-no-miya is known posthumously as Shōwa-tennō and his wife was Kōjun-kōgō. They're the grandparents of the current emperor.
 
:previous: Interesting, thank you!

I agree that vetting potential wives isn't incompatible with marrying for love, nor out of the question. Didn't many of the Akishino family critics fault Crown Princess Kiko for "letting" her daughter date and marry an unsuitable man? It seems some consider it the family's responsibility to prevent poor choices of spouse. Moreover, in Prince Hisahito's case, the Imperial House Law means that he and his fiancee will require permission from the Imperial Household Council (including government officials and royal representatives) to be able to legally marry, so it would be consistent with that for him to have some official guidance in choosing a spouse.

https://www.kunaicho.go.jp/e-kunaicho/hourei-01.html
 

I will need to find the time to read these fascinating reports more carefully , but this passage caught my eye:


Under the former Imperial House Law, promulgated in 1889, the distinction of having some members only remaining in the imperial family for one generation was abolished. Instead, all descendants of the emperor and the imperial family would be hereditary members. 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.

For this reason, I think the common critique from royal watchers (western ones at least; I would be interested to know if Japanese royal watchers say the same), of the American postwar occupation authorities' actions in forcing the Japanese authorities to demote the distantly related imperial branches to commoners, is misguided. The imperial family's membership structure has, without any American involvement, evolved over the centuries depending on the social circumstances, and in this case, we see that even before the war, the plan was to prune the number of "backup" lines to lighten the pressure on imperial finances.

And this was 103 years ago. Even if the American occupiers hadn't intervened, does anyone really expect that Japanese taxpayers in the 21st century would still be willing to pay for 14 never-ending royal lines just so that there is guaranteed to always be a male heir on hand?
 
I will need to find the time to read these fascinating reports more carefully , but this passage caught my eye:


Under the former Imperial House Law, promulgated in 1889, the distinction of having some members only remaining in the imperial family for one generation was abolished. Instead, all descendants of the emperor and the imperial family would be hereditary members. 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.

For this reason, I think the common critique from royal watchers (western ones at least; I would be interested to know if Japanese royal watchers say the same), of the American postwar occupation authorities' actions in forcing the Japanese authorities to demote the distantly related imperial branches to commoners, is misguided. The imperial family's membership structure has, without any American involvement, evolved over the centuries depending on the social circumstances, and in this case, we see that even before the war, the plan was to prune the number of "backup" lines to lighten the pressure on imperial finances.

And this was 103 years ago. Even if the American occupiers hadn't intervened, does anyone really expect that Japanese taxpayers in the 21st century would still be willing to pay for 14 never-ending royal lines just so that there is guaranteed to always be a male heir on hand?
I agree that the government wouldn’t support the 14 branches in our times, but the effect of what the Japanese government did a 103 years ago, versus what the occupying forces did to the succession is so different, the occupying forces wanted to the monarchy to slowly die out by attrition and Japan had to agree to these changes because they lost the war. The motives of the household and government were for financial reasons as you have brought it in the report you read. Plus Japanese royals don’t have children they way they used to, so you have some of the members not having children.
 
:previous: Interesting, where did you read that the occupying forces wanted the monarchy to slowly die out by attrition?
 
:previous: Interesting, where did you read that the occupying forces wanted the monarchy to slowly die out by attrition?
I’m simply describing the end effect of removing the branches and seeing how the succession is affected. The Allied powers and leftists in Japan, wanted to have Emperor indicted and charged as a war criminal just like they wanted to do to Kaiser Wilhelm II in WWI.
 
“Dual Lineage” as Japanese Tradition: The Female Emperor Debate Moves Forward | Nippon.com (posted February 22, 2024)
[...] Takamori Akinori, a Shintō scholar and imperial household expert, wonders whether patrilineal succession really was the historical norm in Japan.

Female Transmission of the Imperial Bloodline​

Takamori is also an opinion leader of a movement focused on making Princess Aiko the emperor in the future. Along with the manga artist Kobayashi Yoshinori, he spoke at the July public event, “Making Aiko the Imperial Heir.”

Takamori sets the scene by sharing his view: “Mythology is more than a set of stories. Rather, it reflects the values of ancient peoples. What makes Japan stand out from other countries in this sense is the existence of a female supreme deity rather than a male one.”

That deity is Amaterasu Ōmikami—the Sun Goddess, the ruler of the heavenly realm, and the source of Japan’s imperial tradition. The Kojiki (trans. Records of Ancient Matters) and other ancient texts also frequently refer to women as the founders of various ancestral clans in addition to Japan’s imperial family. Takamori believes that this shows “ancient Japan was not originally a patriarchal society. Women not only played an important role in transmitting the imperial lineage but held relatively high positions of influence in society as well.”

In terms of historical record, we know of the existence of eight female emperors. The first was Suiko, who reigned in 592–628 CE, at the start of Japan’s historically significant Asuka period. There were also female emperors during the Edo period (1603–1868). Takamori notes that, when looking at the rest of East Asia, this is a rare occurrence. China’s first female emperor was also its last; Wu Zetian officially ruled China for 15 years during an interregnum of the Tang Dynasty (690–705 CE). Three queens ruled the Silla Kingdom (57 BCE to 935 CE) that dominated most of the Korean Peninsula at its height, the last being in 897 CE. Comparatively speaking, “Japan historically was not a country that went out of its way to preclude females from becoming the emperor.”

Takamori also emphasizes the importance of consanguineous marriages between blood relatives in Japan’s imperial lineage. This effectively meant that emperors often inherited the throne based on both paternal and maternal bloodlines, or “dual lineage.” It was also not automatically the case that the male lineage was given greater precedence in succession discussions. If the maternal line allowed a closer connection to the main branch of the imperial line, then matrilineal succession could be used to legitimate an imperial heir.

The Foreign Origins of Imperial “Male Chauvinism”​

This nevertheless begs the question of why Japan went 860 years from the end of the Nara period (710–94) to the beginning of the Edo period without a female emperor. Takamori explains that this was “due to the steadily increasing influence of ancient China on Japan’s elite culture.”

[...]

During the Edo period, however, the practice was effectively reconstituted when two women became emperors. This was despite Japan’s de facto ruler being the shōgun (ostensibly a military commander or generalissimo) and societal stability being enforced through hierarchical relationships between samurai and their lords. Nevertheless, these two emperors would have nominally possessed higher status than Japan’s male Tokugawa rulers.

Most notably, Emperor Kōkaku (r. 1779–1817) ascended to the throne from a recently created cadet branch of the imperial family. This was the fourth time in Japan’s history a cadet branch was established to provide an imperial successor if the “main bloodline” died out. Kōkaku was later careful to link his own lineage with that of the main bloodline by marrying his predecessor’s daughter, Princess Yoshiko. In essence, his appeal to legitimacy was based on a “dual lineage” connection.

“Patrilineal Succession” Norm a Meiji Invention​

[...]

The recency of this norm was made clear in a new book by Tokoro Isao, Tennō no rekishi to hōritsu o minaosu (Rethinking Imperial History and Laws). Arguably the leading scholar on Japan’s imperial household, Tokoro observes: “Until the Meiji era, there was almost no discussion or clear statement that the succession to the throne would exclude women and be limited to the paternal line.”

Article 1 of the Meiji Constitution stipulates that “The Empire of Japan shall be reigned over and governed by a line of Emperors unbroken for ages eternal,” while Article 2 specifies succession be limited to “Imperial male descendants.” While many believe this to be an ancient tradition, the phrasing focusing on lineal succession “unbroken for ages eternal” was actually coined by the statesman Iwakura Tomomi. In fact, terms like “patrilineal succession” had not been used until the Meiji era.

Much like today, during the Meiji era there was also controversy over what the Imperial House Law should say about succession and whether a female emperor and matrilineal succession were acceptable options. [...] In fact, several legislative drafts recognized both the possibility of a female emperor and dual lineage succession.

However, Inoue Kowashi (later director general of the powerful Legislative Bureau) argued strongly for limiting succession and eventually prevailed. Takamori explains Inoue’s reasoning: “It was based on his perception of Meiji cultural attitudes being characterized by the idea of ‘male superiority’—in the phrase of the day, danson johi, literally, ‘respect for men, contempt for women.’ As such, Inoue asserted that allowing both men and women to ascend to the throne could potentially introduce confusion.”

[...]

“Matrilineal Emperors” Did Exist​

Meiji leaders located the source of imperial sovereign legitimacy in the idea of “lineal succession unbroken for ages eternal.” While the existence of female emperors was well known, Takamori explains that Meiji leaders dealt with the issue by simply claiming that past female emperors were little more than “successors to the paternal line.” Takamori argues that this was, however, post-facto logic retrofitted to support Meiji preferences for patrilineal succession. “In reality, there were matrilineal emperors, too. Since there were many consanguineous marriages, it might have seemed plausible to claim that the male bloodline was the decisive factor in succession. However, we must not overlook the fact that a dual lineage succession approach was consciously adopted, and lineage was routinely traced through both maternal and paternal lines.”

[...]

Female emperors also played important historical roles. Emperor Suiko’s reign (592–628; 33) marked the Asuka period of “enlightenment” based on the introduction of Buddhism, while Jitō’s reign (690–697; 41) marked the completion of the aforementioned Ritsuryō system of national laws. Takamori also observes that “Emperor Genmei initiated and oversaw the monumental task of transferring the imperial capital from Fujiwara-kyō to Heijō-kyō”, the completion of which marked the beginning of the Nara period. “From this alone we can see that the view that female emperors had few notable achievements and simply placeholders is biased.”

The Law Is Not Eternal​

[...]

Takamori, meanwhile, warns that “the very existence of the imperial family is at stake. We do not have the luxury of continuing to insist on patrilineal succession.” He reiterates that appeals to tradition miss the point that patrilineal succession “is based on a male chauvinistic view influenced by the practices of ancient China. The fact that women cannot currently be what the Constitution calls the ‘symbol of unity’ of their own country and people is unacceptable. We must face the fact that this viewpoint is contemptuous of women, far removed from the original tradition of Japan, and is ultimately at the root of the crisis in the imperial household.”

[...]

LDP Shows Understanding on Imperial Succession Plan; Former Male Members Could Be Adopted Back into Imperial Family - The Japan News (posted April 5, 2024)
[...]

The government advisory panel presented two main plans in the 2021 report. One is to let women stay in the Imperial family after marriage, and the other is to use adoption to restore the Imperial status of men in the male line of the Imperial lineage who have left the Imperial family.

The LDP showed understanding of the first plan at a meeting in March. At the latest meeting, the party confirmed it would give priority to discussing the two plans to ensure a stable Imperial succession.

As a backup plan in case the two plans fail to sustain the Imperial family, the report proposes law changes to restore the Imperial status of former male Imperial family members in the male line. The LDP panel plans to discuss the issue in line with this policy.

90% in Japan support idea of reigning empress: survey - Kyodo News (posted April 28, 2024)
[...] The results of the mail survey, conducted in March and April ahead of the fifth anniversary of Emperor Naruhito's ascension to the throne, demonstrate how the majority of the public approves of expanding the right to rule to women, given imperial succession is currently limited to men from the paternal line.

In the survey, 72 percent of respondents said they felt a "sense of crisis" regarding the stability of imperial succession.

[...]

Regarding discussions on succession, 35 percent said the conversation should start as soon as possible. Another 26 percent said the issue should be deliberated carefully into the future, and 19 percent believe it should be held while monitoring the situation surrounding Prince Hisahito.

Half of the respondents who supported the idea of a reigning empress stated that gender differences were not important concerning the role. Meanwhile, the most common reason for disapproving of the idea, cited by 45 percent of those against the concept, was the belief that male succession was culturally appropriate.

Meanwhile, 74 percent said they were against or somewhat against reintroducing male members from the former houses of the Imperial Family that were stripped of membership shortly after World War II, an idea that has been floated as a means to maintain succession by a male on the paternal line.

[...]

The survey showed 67 percent of respondents were somewhat or very interested in the imperial family, down 8 percentage points from the previous survey in 2020.

Regarding online criticism and slanderous comments directed at imperial family members, 86 percent said they infringed on their dignity.

[...]

The move came after the agency struggled with critical, often slanderous, online reactions to former princess Mako's engagement and 2021 marriage to her university sweetheart, Kei Komuro.

The latest Kyodo survey targeted 3,000 people aged 18 and older across the country, of which 1,966 gave valid responses. The response rate was 65.5 percent.

On April 26th, the LDP presented their proposal (adopt men from former Imperial branches, allow married women to keep Imperial status) to secure the Imperial family to the Fukushiro Nukaga, Speaker of the House of Representatives. The New Komeito party and opposition parties have already compiled their views. Discussions will begin in May, after the long holidays.

Sources: Sankei, FNN, Jiji
 
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90% in support of a female empress and 84% in support of a maternal-lineage monarch are higher figures than found by most (all?) other surveys. I wonder if this Kyodo poll is merely an outlier or if there has been a genuine increase in support (if the latter, then I would speculate that Aiko fandom is involved).

It is also interesting to me that the poll had a 65.5% response rate. I wonder how this compares to the response rate for public opinion polling on other topics.

I wonder how serious the LDP is about their "adopt men from former Imperial branches" proposal. Not only will LDP leaders surely be aware of polls like the aforementioned (74% opposition to the idea amongst the public in this particular poll), but the Komuro imbroglio vividly illustrated how much interest there is in commoners attempting to join themselves to the imperial family. I imagine that any man selected by the government to become a prince would be extensively investigated by tabloids and social media users for any skeletons in his closet - along with his wife and any adult children he might have.
 
I vaguely recall some surveys targeted about 2000 people but can't remember response rate or age ranges.

The LDP is fairly serious about adopting men into the Imperial family although probably happy to procrastinate to see if Prince Hisahito has a son. They have a conservative base and voters willing to elect LDP despite dissatisfaction of its policies and scandals (or apathetic people who don't vote). I agree the government will carefully vet the candidate for adoption although I'm guessing a single man, rather than someone with wife and family.

-----

Ruling and opposition parties will hold discussions on stable succession on May 17 at the official residence of the Speaker of House of Representatives.

Source: Sankei

On May 15th, House of Councillors member and chair of Social Democratic Party, Mizuho Fukushima advocated for female succession. "There is no rational reason to limit the inheritance to males in the male line, and there should be no restrictions on women's inheritance." Regarding reinstating male descendants of ex-Imperial branches via adoption, Fukushima said "There is a possibility that this will be done arbitrarily. It is completely evil." (Google translation)

Source: Jiji

-----

EDITORIAL: Public opinion vital to resolving thorny imperial succession issue | The Asahi Shimbun
[...] Asahi Shimbun editorials have criticized the panel’s proposals, arguing they betray a fixation on the idea that only males of the patrilineal lineage should be allowed to succeed to the throne and are unlikely to be widely understood or accepted by the public.

The same can be said for opinions published by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and some opposition blocs, which have deemed the report “reasonable.”

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

The proponents of the proposal claim this rule is to ensure that they will maintain their rights and duties as ordinary citizens. But this is clearly designed to kill the proposal to allow a male child of the female line of the imperial family to succeed to the throne.

On the other hand, under the adoption approach, male children of newly adopted imperial family members would be granted imperial succession rights.

However, these ideas are out of step with public sentiment.

[...]

Asahi editorials have long expressed doubts about the second proposal, which would return individuals who have lived as private citizens for more than 70 years to the imperial family. Even if this idea is adopted, it would not eliminate the intense pressure to produce male heirs, which has been straining imperial family members.

The notion of maintaining bloodlines through male descendants under monogamy has its limits, as history teaches us.

Despite the LDP’s slogan, “The imperial family is the foundation of the nation,” it seems doubtful that the ruling party is seriously considering the system’s sustainability.

Both proposals would significantly impact the life planning of the imperial family and the individuals involved. It is also necessary to ensure that there are no coercive actions regarding imperial registry departure, retention or adoption.

The symbolic emperor system can only exist with the support of the people with whom resides sovereign power. Discussions must proceed based on this fundamental principle.
 
Lawmakers begin talks on Japan's dwindling imperial line - The Japan Times
[...] The start of Friday's cross-party discussions took seven years to get off the ground, and the enactment of any changes will likely be a lengthy process.

The talks followed a one-off rule in 2017 that allowed the aging then-Emperor Akihito, now 90, to step down two years later, and also urged the government to "swiftly study" succession rules.

The ruling bloc and opposition lawmakers are expected to discuss two suggestions a specially commissioned panel submitted to the government in 2021.

[...]

The panel's report recommended that male lineage rules be preserved at least until Prince Hisahito becomes emperor.

Resistance to changing long-held tradition among conservative lawmakers who revere the royals as the perfect example of a patriarchal Japanese family makes female succession unlikely any time soon.

[...]

Japan Political Parties Begin Talks on Imperial Family Plan - Nippon
[...] The discussion will center on two proposals presented by a government expert panel. The Imperial Household Law may be revised as a result.

It remains to be seen whether the parties will be able to bridge divides before the parliamentary session ends on June 23.

Participants at Friday's meeting included former Prime Minister Taro Aso from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda from the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi also participated.
 
Thankyou Prisma for all your hard work in collating the above articles . Your posts are always very thorough , and informative . I remember reading of how much , both the , then HIH Crown Princess Masako and , HIH Princess Kiko , suffered both physically , and mentally in their efforts to secure the succession . It is important that future wives are protected . Many people still fail to understand that it is the father who determines gender , not the mother .
 
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