With Parties at Odds, Agreement on Imperial Line Looks Elusive; Diet Leaders Hold Hearings with Opposition

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Diet leaders listen to the opinions of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Friday.

The ruling and opposition parties are unlikely to reach an agreement on how to ensure a stable succession to the Imperial throne during the current Diet session, which ends on June 23.

The heads and deputy heads of both chambers of the Diet listened to opinions on the issue from members of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and other parties at the official residence of the speaker of the House of Representatives on Friday.

With the CDPJ calling for further discussion, the gap between it and the LDP and other parties was left wide open. Given the expected difficulty in reaching an agreement during the current Diet session, some have called for talks to continue after the Diet adjourns.

The lower house and the House of Councillors have held two rounds of talks among the ruling and opposition parties. Both blocs have generally agreed to place priority on discussing measures for securing a sufficient number of Imperial family members, which is an urgent issue.

There are two questions at hand: whether female members of the Imperial family should retain their Imperial status after marriage, and whether male descendants of male lines of former branches of the Imperial family should be granted Imperial status by adoption.

The leaders and deputy leaders are to listen to the opinions of each party and faction individually to reach a consensus on these two issues. Friday was the first day to hear their opinions.

The CDPJ agreed with the need for female members to remain in the Imperial household after marriage. However, the party reiterated its position that consideration should be given to granting Imperial status to their husbands and children.

The CDPJ also said it was necessary to have a thorough discussion on the substance of the proposal, as well as on the proposal for adoption.

After the discussion, CDPJ member and former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters, “I believe we need to make a decision soon.” However, he added that it would be difficult to reach an agreement during the current Diet session.

The members of the Japan Innovation Party were also asked for their opinions. JIP Secretary General Fumitake Fujita and other members participated in the discussion and stressed that ruling and opposition parties should continue discussions to reach a consensus even after the Diet session.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced at the Liberal Democratic Party convention in March a policy of accelerating discussions on the Imperial household issue to appeal to conservatives in his base.

Meanwhile, the Diet’s two chambers are said to be eyeing two different paces. While lower house Speaker Fukushiro Nukaga is eager to achieve a consensus quickly, upper house President Hidehisa Otsuji wants further deliberation on the issue.

There remains a large gap in aims among those involved, and it is unclear whether discussions can be pushed toward a consensus after the Diet session ends.