Japanese support female monarch

A recent poll conducted in Japan showed that the majority of Japanese would like a female to reign the country despite the recent birth of the male heir.

Fifty-six percent of respondents to a poll published Monday by public broadcaster NHK said they support reforming Japan's imperial law to allow women to inherit the Chrysanthemum throne.

Only 33 percent said there was no need to reform the law, which says only men in an all-male line to the emperor can assume the crown, according to NHK.

When those for reform were asked when the change should take place, 33 percent replied as soon as possible, while 67 percent said ample time was needed for debate, NHK said.

The poll came after Princess Kiko, the wife of Emperor Akihito's second son, gave birth to a baby boy last week, ending a succession crisis in the coming generation of the royal family.

Until Wednesday, Kiko's husband Akishino and his older brother, Crown Prince Naruhito, had three daughters between them, but no sons, the AP reports.

The birth is likely to put a damper on the debate over imperial reform, which has been divisive.

An expert panel last year recommended allowing women on the throne, then letting them pass the crown to their offspring - a proposal that won support from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and the public, the AP reports.

But conservatives mounted a vociferous attack on the plan, saying it would end centuries of tradition. Koizumi's likely successor, the conservative chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, has suggested he will not rush to take the proposal forward.

NHK polled 1,674 Japanese over 20 years old by telephone on Sept. 8-10, receiving replies from 1,075. It gave no margin of error.