In recently released documents, it has been discovered that the Japanese government discussed, in closed door meetings, the possibility of changing laws the would allow women to ascend to the Thrown. These meetings took place from 1997 to 2004 under two prime ministers – Hashimoto and Koizumi.
The Imperial House Law which allows only male heirs who have emperors on their father’s side are allowed to reign. The Japanese government has noted that a stable and smooth succession is important. This of course makes sense as they Japanese Royal Family is a well known institution both in Japan and around the world – with close links to European monarchs.
Prime Minister Koizumi was eager to move forward with these meetings and perhaps laws but the birth in 2006 of the first male heir in 41 years to Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko meant that the plan would have little meaning and faded out naturally. There are currently 18 Imperial Family members and 13 are women.
So the law remains that this is a male dominated institution with powerful women amongst the ranks. This year on April 30, the current Japanese Emperor will abdicate and will be the first Japanese monarch to do so in 200 years.
The 1947 Imperial House Law stipulates that only men can succeed to the throne, and requires that women abandon their status in the family as Imperials after marrying commoners.
The current Prime Minister Abe and his government are more conservative so they are somewhat more reluctant to address this issue.