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68% of public in favor of 'empress regnant' idea: Mainichi poll

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko attend the Pritzker Architecture Prize award ceremony in Tokyo on May 20, 2017. (Mainichi)

Sixty-eight percent of people are in favor of Japan having an "empress regnant," according to a nationwide survey conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun.

Meanwhile, the percentage of pollees who are against the notion of an empress regnant was found to be considerably less, at 12 percent. These poll results show that there is a significant gap between the general public and the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which is negative about the idea of Japan having an empress regnant or a matrilineal emperor.

Broken down by gender, it was found that 72 percent of men support having an empress regnant, and that a mere 12 percent do not. For women, 65 percent of respondents were found to be in favor, and 12 percent against. In addition, of those who support the current Abe administration, 68 percent of people said that they agree with the idea.

On the issue of Japan having an empress regnant or a matrilineal emperor, a government panel of experts submitted a report to then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2005, suggesting that the proposal be accepted. Furthermore, in a national survey conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun in December 2005, it was found that 85 percent of people were in favor of having an empress regnant.

In a subsequent poll conducted in September 2006 immediately after the birth of Prince Hisahito -- Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko's son -- the percentage of people in favor dropped to 72 percent. Nevertheless, the arguments in support of an empress regnant continue to run deep.

In this latest Mainichi Shimbun survey, respondents were also asked about their feelings toward Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. With regard to the Emperor, the most frequently answers were "veneration," "affinity," and "positive" -- scoring 30 percent, 20 percent and 17 percent, respectively. For the Empress, the most common replies were "affinity," "positive," and "veneration" -- at 27 percent, 22 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko often perform their public duties together, yet public opinion toward them seems to be slightly different, with people feeling mainly respect for the Emperor while their feeling towards the Empress is mainly affinity, according to this poll.

The Mainichi Shimbun survey was conducted by telephone on April 22 and 23, across a nationwide sample of eligible voters.

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