Friday, December 09, 2005

Does this throne make me look fat?

The debate in Japan is intensifying over whether to allow a woman to ascend Japan's imperial throne.

Japanese law has long stipulated succession along the male line, but the current crown prince and his younger brother have only daughters.

In a previous posting I wrote that a government advisory committee recommended resolving the uh-oh-no-male-heirs crisis by allowing an emperor's daughter to sit on the Chrysanthumum Throne. That, however, was only a recommendation; it hasn't become official yet. A change to Japan's constitution will have to be made. (A very big deal.)

Incidentally, the only other alternative to passing the baton--or royal scepter, as it were--to a princess would be to re-royalize a branch of the Emperor's family that was de-royalized at the end of World War II. (The whole royalty thing had just gotten out of hand, you know.) A male descendent of people obviously not well-connected enough at war's end could be declared His Royal Highness the Crown Prince.

However, the advisory committee members must have known that such an act might make the common folk do some pondering. "If a royal could become a commoner," the thinking might go, "and then go back to royalty again, why couldn't an ordinary guy or gal who was always a commoner become royalty?"

Who knows what thought processes would be unleashed by such an epiphany. Fortunately for all concerned, however, public-opinion surveys are showing that the people would much rather see the royal throne occupied by a woman who was born a princess than by a man who was born a commoner.

The whole succession question wouldn't come to a head until after the current Crown Prince takes the place of his father, the Emperor, who himself isn't even that old. (Well, to a fourteen-year-old like my daughter he's old, but then again so is everyone over the age of twenty-two.) In other words, a succession crisis isn't around the corner, but then again--and say this with a proper British accent--one must plan ahead for such things, wouldn't you agree?

—Mellow Monk

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