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Over 70% support female emperors in Japan, half favor female-line emperors: survey

The Imperial Palace is seen in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward in this file photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter. (Mainichi/Kentaro Ikushima)

TOKYO -- More than 70% of respondents to a recent opinion poll jointly conducted by The Mainichi Newspapers Co. and Saitama University's Social Survey Research Center favored having female emperors.

    The survey, which was carried out from November 2021 to January 2022, was on general current affairs including Japan's Imperial succession issue.

    Forty-one percent of respondents said, "Imperial succession by a woman should only be permitted when there is no male heir," while 35% said, "Imperial succession by the emperor's first child, regardless of their gender, should be prioritized." Altogether, over 70% respondents were in favor of recognizing a female emperor. Just 10% wanted the present male-only succession to be maintained.

    Under present law, only males of patrilineal lineage can succeed to the throne. Looking at responses from women, 38% said the emperor's first-born child should come first in line, while 37% answered that a female should only be allowed to ascend to the throne when there is no male heir.

    By age, 43% of respondents between 18 and 29 years old supported succession by the first child, while over 40% of those in their 60s and older said a female should only be allowed to inherit when there is no male heir.

    If a woman becomes emperor, then her child and heir would be set to become a matrilineal-line emperor. When respondents in favor of allowing for female emperors were asked about female-line emperors, 70% stated that maternal Imperial succession should be permitted, while 10% insisted that male-line succession should be upheld. Overall, 52% of respondents approved of female-line emperors.

    The survey was sent by post to 2,400 people randomly selected from voters' registries in 240 locations across Japan. Of them, valid responses were received from 1,315 people.

    (Japanese original by Nanae Ito, Political News Department)

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