Japan Ruling Party Backs 2 Proposals Aimed at Securing Sufficient Members of Imperial Family

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Liberal Democratic Party Vice President Taro Aso speaks at an LDP team meeting at the party’s headquarters on Monday.

Two proposals by a government panel working to ensure there are sufficient members of the Imperial family have been deemed “appropriate” by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Major political parties have presented their basic positions on the issue, and they are likely to start discussions around the Golden Week holidays in May. As there is no significant difference of opinion among the parties, the focus of attention will be whether they can reach an agreement before the end of the current Diet session.

“Other parties have already presented their views. The LDP needs to demonstrate its position as soon as possible,” LDP Vice President Taro Aso said at a Monday meeting of an LDP team discussing the issue, suggesting they would accelerate efforts to build a consensus within the party.

The government panel presented the two main plans in a report in 2021. One is to let female members stay in the Imperial family after marriage, while the other is to use adoption to restore the Imperial status of male members of former Imperial family branches based on their paternal lineage.

At Monday’s meeting, the LDP team, chaired by Aso, concluded that the two plans were both appropriate. The team confirmed that it would compile the party’s view before the end of this month.

There is strong concern, especially among conservative LDP members, that if female members are allowed to remain in the Imperial family after marriage, it could lead to a female-line emperor who is connected to the Imperial lineage through the maternal bloodline. As for adoption, some fear that this might affect the current succession process.

The report also proposes not granting Imperial status to the husbands and children of female members of the Imperial family and not letting adopted members succeed to the throne. The LDP plans to reflect these proposals in the party’s view, out of consideration for the opinions of conservative members.

Other major political parties have presented their own views on how to secure a sufficient number of Imperial family members. Komeito, Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) and the Democratic Party for the People also agree to the two plans.

Regarding the plan to allow female members to retain their Imperial status after marriage, Komeito said it would win the understanding of the public and be consistent with the history of the Imperial family. As for adoption, the party insists that it should be allowed given the chronically low birthrate.

Paternal-line male descendants in 11 Imperial family branches that were removed from the Imperial family record after World War II should be allowed to be adopted, Komeito has said.

Nippon Ishin sees the two plans as “realistic,” saying that adoption from former branches of the Imperial family is a good idea given the history and current situation of the Imperial family. The DPFP calls for developing specific systems to realize the two plans as soon as possible.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan compiled its view on the issue in March, calling for the consideration of institutional designs for the adoption program after confirming the existence of male descendants eligible for such adoption.

When it comes to allowing female members to retain their Imperial status after marriage, the CDPJ insists that it should be discussed whether to grant Imperial status to their husbands and children, citing such reasons as the possible violation of the Constitutional provision that declares the equal rights of husband and wife.

Many of the views and opinions of these parties are based on the plans presented in the report. “There is no significant difference,” a source close to the government said.

“Both ruling and opposition parties share a common recognition that securing enough Imperial family members is an urgent issue. Given this, developing relevant legislation during the current Diet session would not be impossible,” a senior LDP member said.