With Only Three Male Heirs to Imperial Throne, Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida Aims to Direct New Entity to Speed Up Succession Talks

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nijubashi Bridge at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party intends to establish a body under the direct control of the party president, currently Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, to consider issues including measures to ensure stable Imperial succession.

The entity’s launch will soon be decided, with arrangements being made to install LDP Vice President Taro Aso as its head.

The new body is intended to accelerate LDP-led discussions on Imperial succession and lay the groundwork for building a broad consensus in the Diet. It will have the advantage of making it easier to reflect Kishida’s wishes in the discussions.

In a policy speech he delivered to the Diet on Monday, Kishida said he hoped there would be “active discussions” so that the consensus of the legislature could be reached “at an early date.”

Currently, only male offspring in the paternal line belonging to the Imperial lineage have the right to succeed to the throne. As things stand, only three male members fall into this category, with Prince Hisahito, the Emperor’s nephew, the only one in the next generation. Consequently, stable succession has become a major issue for the Imperial system.

In January 2022, the government submitted to leaders of the Diet a final report compiled by an advisory panel that called for consideration of two main plans to secure Imperial family member numbers. One is to let female members stay in the Imperial family after marriage. The other is to use the adoption system to restore the Imperial family status of male descendants in the paternal line.

That same month, the LDP began a meeting to discuss matters including the Imperial family issue, but those discussions stalled.

Kishida aims to elevate the party’s body for such discussions to one under his direct control to consolidate opinions on the matter.