Japan will prepare for a reigning empress for
the first time in over 200 years as the government
drafts legal changes allowing female succession, a
report said on Monday.
Kyodo News quoted an unnamed government official as
saying 'Princess Aiko will go next' after Crown Prince
Naruhito in line for the throne. The report did not give
Telephones at the prime minister's office rang
unanswered late on Monday.
Princess Aiko, 3, is the only child of Crown Prince
Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako.
Current Japanese law bars women from ascending the
throne. However, no boy has been born to the imperial
family since the 1960s, creating the country's deepest
succession crisis in centuries.
A government panel of experts began debating an
amendment to the law last month but is not due to reach
a conclusion until later this year. Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi is expected to act on their
Parliament would also need to approve a change in the
Recent polls have placed public support for a reigning
empress at above 80 per cent. Ms Hiroyuki Yoshikawa, the
head of the 10-member expert panel, has said that public
opinion would be the most important factor in their
A woman last sat on the Chrysanthemum Throne from 1762
to 1771, when Empress Gosakuramachi reigned until
abdicating in favour of her nephew.
Seven other women have occupied the throne throughout
its 1,500 years of documented history, but they all
served as temporary caretakers until males could take
over. None of their offspring ever succeeded them.