TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The ruling Liberal Democratic Party will consider revising the Imperial House Law as part of measures to ensure stable Imperial succession and secure Imperial Family members, a senior member said Friday.
“We must consider the need to revise laws including the Imperial House Law,” LDP Vice President Taro Aso said as chairman of a party team to discuss the issue, which held its first meeting at the LDP’s headquarters the same day.
But the party is expected to face difficulties reaching a consensus on the matter.
A government expert panel adopted a report in December 2021 that proposed ways to secure the number of Imperial Family members. The report was submitted by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to the Diet the following month.
No progress has been made, however, in discussions on the Imperial succession issue within political parties including Kishida’s LDP.
Kishida has called on the Diet to form a consensus of the legislative branch during the current extraordinary session ending next month. He also set up the Aso-led team directly under himself to “lead discussions in the LDP.”
LDP Secretary-General Toshimitsu Motegi and policy leader Koichi Hagiuda were appointed the team’s acting chairman and secretary-general, respectively.
At the first meeting, participants received an explanation from the Cabinet Secretariat about the government panel report and agreed to deepen discussions from the next meeting.
“How the Imperial Family should be is an extremely important issue affecting the foundation of our country,” Aso said. “We want to deepen discussions with a limited number of members in a quiet environment.”
The focus of discussions will be whether to allow Japan to have a female emperor or an emperor connected to the Imperial lineage through the maternal bloodline.
Some in the party are open to the idea, but Kishida and conservative members insist on maintaining the rule of allowing only male emperors from the family’s paternal line.
The LDP has yet to decide when to form a consensus on the matter, Acting Secretary-General Seiji Kihara told reporters after the meeting. Some in the party say that legislation on the matter should be passed at next year’s ordinary Diet session.
Keiichi Ishii, secretary-general of the LDP’s junior coalition partner, Komeito, told reporters Friday that the party will “start (internal discussions) little by little while keeping an eye on the LDP’s deliberations.”
“We are in the middle of discussions,” said Kenta Izumi, president of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. “We hope to wrap up the discussions around the time other parties present their views.”
The Imperial Family has only three male members eligible to succeed the Emperor. The problem has been a political issue since the administration of then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi from 2001 to 2006.
The government panel presented two options to secure Imperial Family members—allowing female members to retain their Imperial Family status after getting married and using the adoption system to restore or grant Imperial Family status to male members in the paternal line of former family branches stripped of the status in 1947.