Japanese opposition to female emperor grows thick and fast

Public opposition to a female monarch in Japan has shot up sharply since conservative politicians voiced concern about the idea, a poll published Monday showed. The percentage of people opposed to the idea of a woman on the throne jumped to 21 percent from 6 percent last month, said the respected Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper, which carried out the polls.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has said he plans to submit by June a bill to revise the country's imperial succession law which allows only men on the throne to avoid a succession crisis. Japan's imperial family has not produced a male heir since the 1960s.

But many conservative lawmakers, including Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, have urged the premier to slow down, saying more debate is needed before altering the long-standing Japanese tradition.

By the end of last week, at least 134 ruling and opposition lawmakers had signed a petition against the bill. The politicians also plan to organize a rally in Tokyo next month, according to Takeo Hiranuma, an independent politician leading the group.

Those opposed to allowing a woman take the throne have even suggested bringing back concubines to provide male descendants, or to reinstate the aristocracy banned after World War II as a way of broadening the pool of candidates for the throne.

But Koizumi on Friday expressed confidence in gaining approval for the legislative reform, telling reporters he would win support after proper parliamentary debate.

The change puts Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako's only child 4-year-old daughter Aiko second in line to the throne. She would be the first reigning empress in more than 200 years.

The Nikkei poll, taken Feb. 2-5, received responses from 925 respondents. No margin of error was provided, reports the AP.

D.M.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team