Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

Extensive discussion needed on future positions of Imperial Couple after abdication

If Emperor Akihito abdicates, the Japanese traditional era name will change in accordance with the stipulation of the Era Name Law. But the Imperial House Act does not have any stipulations on the emperor's abdication. Nor does it define the positions of the Imperial Couple after their abdications.

Furthermore, there are cases in which emperors who had abdicated subsequently exercised authority as "retired emperors" or their accession to the throne and abdications were used for political feuds before the Meiji Period. Takahisa Furukawa, professor of modern Japanese history at Nihon University, said, "If we follow the precedents of abdications, we could create room (for political exploitation)."

The Imperial House Act stipulates that a male offspring of the emperor becomes the crown prince. If Crown Prince Naruhito, who is the first in line for succession to the Chrysanthemum Throne, becomes the new emperor following the current emperor's abdication, there will be no crown prince because the current crown prince has no male offspring. While Prince Akishino, who is currently the second in line for succession to the throne, will become the first in the succession line, he will not become crown prince. But he will perform constitutional functions on behalf of the new emperor when he is absent due to his overseas trips or other duties. The Constitution and the Imperial House Act do not stipulate the roles of a crown prince, but discussion should be held on official duties which have been carried out by the current crown prince.

Professor Furukawa said, "In order to maintain the system of having an emperor as the symbol of the state, letting the emperor remain on the throne and expanding the scope of official duties the crown prince should perform on behalf of the emperor is one option. At any rate, proper discussion should be held among the people of Japan."

Also in The Mainichi

The Mainichi on social media