Japanese government to submit bill allowing women on the throne early next year

The Japanese government will submit a bill to allow women to assume the imperial throne in the session of Parliament starting in January, a top official said Thursday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said a 15-member team had been established to work on the legislation, which he said would mirror a recent report by a special panel on the issue.

"We are making preparations to hand in the bill by the next Diet session," he told reporters.

Last week, the panel recommended revising Japanese law to give an emperor's first-born child of either sex the right to head the world's oldest hereditary monarchy.

Under the 1947 Imperial Household Law, only males who have emperors on their father's side can succeed to the throne. Japanese royals could face a serious succession crisis, however, with no boy born to the family since the 1960s.

The team established to put together the legislation will be comprised of bureaucrats, half of them from the Imperial Household Agency.

Support for the change is high. A recent poll by the nationwide newspaper Asahi showed 78 percent of respondents were in favor of a reigning empress.

Eight empresses have ruled Japan in the last 1,500 years, the most recent being Gosakuramachi, who reigned from 1762 to 1770, AP reported. V.A.

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