The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about the role of female members of Japan's Imperial Family.
Question: What do female members of Japan's Imperial Family do?
Answer: They perform a number of roles. For example, the 25-year-old daughter of Prince and Princess Akishino, Princess Mako, holds positions such as honorary president of the Japan Tennis Association. In addition, Princess Akiko, 35, the eldest daughter of the late Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, has taken on some of the duties of her grandfather Prince Mikasa -- who passed away in October 2016 -- such as president of the Japan-Turkey Society and president of the Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan.
Q: So they have several roles?
A: At a press conference prior to Emperor Akihito's 72nd birthday in 2005, the Emperor stated, "I feel that the presence of female members of the Imperial Family brings about some very good elements such as giving kindness and warmth to the atmosphere and calling on the benevolence and courage of the people, both on public and private occasions, in addition to fulfilling their practical duties."
Q: Are there many female members in the Imperial Family?
A: Currently, 14 of the 19 Imperial Family members are female. However, the Imperial House Law states that female members lose their royal status if they marry a commoner. Therefore, there is a concern that the number of female members of the Imperial Family might rapidly decrease if they marry commoners and leave the Imperial Family one after another. (Answers by Tamami Kawakami, Kyushu Head Office News Department)