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Japan defense minister suggests considering 'matrilineal emperors' for stable succession

Defense Minister Taro Kono (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono suggested during an online program on Aug. 23 that matrilineal emperors, whose fathers have no bloodline connection with past emperors, should be considered to maintain stable succession of the Imperial Throne.

    Under the Imperial House Law, only patrilineal male members of the Imperial Family are eligible as heirs to the throne. In case no such members are left in the family, Kono said Japan should allow an empress regnant with patrilineal lineage, and added, "I think it is possible that Imperial princesses (children or grandchildren of an emperor), including Princess Aiko (the daughter of Emperor Naruhito), could be accepted as the next emperor."

    Kono pointed out flaws with the current Imperial succession system, saying, "Are there really any women who would choose to join the (next generation) Imperial Family when they see Empress Masako and Crown Princess Kiko (wife of Crown Prince Akishino)? There will be tremendous pressure to give birth to a boy." He then commented, with Crown Prince Akishino's son Prince Hisahito in mind, "There is only one next generation heir to the throne. There is no problem if patrilineal lineage continues, but we need to consider what to do for when there are no longer any male heirs left."

    Meanwhile, Kono questioned a proposal suggested by some conservative members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and others to reinstate members of former Imperial branch households to maintain patrilineal lineage succession, saying, "There will be a need to have discussions whether the people of Japan will truly accept reinstating those who were separated from the Imperial Family some 600 years ago."

    (Japanese original by Yusuke Tanabe, Political News Department)

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