Most Japanese support the creation of a permanent system to enable emperors to abdicate, a Kyodo News survey showed Monday, highlighting the public's aversion to a government plan to set up a one-off abdication law applicable only to Emperor Akihito.
In a survey conducted among 3,000 people aged 18 or older, 68 percent of respondents said the Imperial House Law should be revised so as to enable future emperors to relinquish the Chrysanthemum throne.
Just 25 percent said abdication should be legislated on a one-off basis. Four percent said Japan should not allow the abdication of its emperors at all.
Ruling and opposition parties on March 17 adopted a proposal calling on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government to enact special one-off legislation to enable 83-year-old Emperor Akihito to step down following his video message last summer hinting at his desire to abdicate due to his advanced age. The proposal came within the March 8-April 14 survey period.
On April 21, a government advisory panel compiled a set of proposals regarding the imperial system after Emperor Akihito's envisioned abdication under special-case legislation.
The process for legalizing the emperor's abdication was debated by the panel, as only posthumous succession is allowed currently, with the Imperial House Law lacking a provision regarding abdication.
Despite only two Imperial family members younger than 57-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito being currently in line to the throne, the panel's proposal did not address potential solutions, but only called for a deeper debate at both the government and public levels.
After Emperor Akihito's envisioned abdication, Prince Hisahito, 10, Prince Akishino's only son, will be the second in line to the throne. Prince Hisahito is currently the only male imperial family member of his generation.
The survey showed strong public support for a female emperor or an emperor of female lineage, both of which are currently prohibited under the imperial law.
In the survey, 86 percent supported enabling a woman to assume the imperial throne and 59 percent supported realizing both a female emperor and an emperor of female lineage.
As for retaining princesses as members of the imperial family by enabling them to establish their branches even after they marry commoners, 62 percent supported such branch establishment while 35 percent opposed.
On the debate about potential legal pathways to the ascension of female imperial members, 61 percent said discussion should be started after Emperor Akihito abdicates and 28 percent said it should be carried out in parallel with discussions about the abdication.
Earlier this year, Abe said giving imperial family status to those who are in collateral branches that have left the family is one of the options, but only 22 percent supported that prospect, while 72 percent opposed.