Japan Seeks To Change Imperial Law

Experts Debate Over Issue of Female Successor to Chrysanthemum Throne

A 10-member panel of Japanese experts has begun their year long study on Japanese monarchs with hopes of helping to rewrite history. The panel will debate over the issue of a female successor to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

The current law, which took effect in 1947, only permits male heirs in the line of succession. A male heir has not been born to the throne since 1965 and the Japanese government has shown growing concern about the fate of the current Imperial Household by revering the situation as a crisis.

Prince Fumihito, who will be 40 this year, is the younger brother of Crown Prince Naruhito and is the last male born to the imperial family.  Three-year-old Princess Aiko is the only child of Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako and could be a possible successor if history is rewritten.

Surrounding issues that the panel will have to look into will be the topic of the children of a female emperor and whether to allow the first-born, regardless of gender, to succeed or will priority given to sons still continue. Other surrounding issues would be whether children of female emperors should be allowed to succeed their mother and whether women in the imperial family are allowed to have their own branch within the household after marriage and keep their imperial status.

Current public polls have shown that most Japanese nationals are receptive to the idea of a female successor. In a public poll conducted by The Ashai Shimbun, 86 percent are in favor of a female emperor.

The 10-member panel, which was handpicked by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, will hold monthly meetings and is due to report their results by the fall. A change to the Imperial Household Law has to be approved by parliament.

According to BBC News, in ancient Japan, there have been eight female monarchs, but all have reigned in emergency circumstances and none had children who ascended the throne.



As Japan is seeking to rewrite history by allowing a female to become emperor, across the globe women of the African Diaspora and within Africa have been leaders for many years.

In the United States, Condoleezza Rice was named the first African American woman appointed Secretary of State last moth. Other notable black female leaders within the U.S. are former Mayor of D.C. Sharon Pratt Kelly, who served as the city’s first female mayor from 1991 to 1995; former Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman, who served as the first African American to head the department under the Clinton Administration; Carol Moseley Braun, who served as the first African American female Senator for Illinois.

Abroad, the current seventh Parliament of Uganda has 74 female members, 13 county representatives, 56 district women of representatives and five special interest representatives. 

Other Black female governmental leaders abroad have included the Prime Minister of Mozambique, Luisa Dias Diogo, former Prime Minister of Senegal, Mame Madior Boye, Governor-General of Saint Lucia, Dame Calliopa Pearlette Louisy, Governor-General of Bahamas, Dame Ivy Dumont.

After its official launch in July 2004, The Global Congress of Black Women Leaders is a non-profit organization in which Black female leaders worldwide convene to discuss the needs of Black women.