Tuesday, March 07, 2006

What if it is a girl?

I’m on strike today, and I’m making the most of it by reading Japan Focus. I don’t think I’ve ever done a royal story here, but it’s always good to try something new, so here’s a link to Sean Curtin’s article on the issue of female succession to the Japanese throne, “Japan's Imperial Succession Debate and Women's Rights”.

Just when Japan’s Imperial House was on the verge of an historic reform that would have marked an enormous step towards making it a more gender equal institution, the legislation permitting an Empress to reign was suddenly shelved. The immediate cause of the abrupt turnaround was the surprise announcement that 39-year-old Princess Kiko, the Emperor’s daughter-in-law, was pregnant. The announcement led Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro to promptly abandon his reform plans, handing victory to ultra-conservatives who bitterly opposed the proposals.


Read the complete article

Kiko Princess Kiko.

Princess Kiko is the wife of the current emperor’s second son, Prince Fumihito. If her baby is a boy he would be the first male in his generation, and would be third in line to the throne after the Crown Prince (his uncle) and his dad. (Are you following this? Royal watchers must love genealogy...)

But if the new baby is a girl, then the current government, who are right-wing pragmatists, will have to rejoin battle with the right-wing ideologues in their own party. I am praying for the patter of tiny pink-booted feet...

Naruhito, Masako and Aiko

Naruhito, Masako and Aiko

A disclaimer: obviously the abolition of the Japanese monarchy is really the best outcome -- for ordinary Japanese people, and I imagine, the members of the royal family themselves. (Just as Johann Hari argued that the British royals would be much better off abolished.) In particular, Princess Masako, the wife of the Crown Prince, has apparently been suffering serious depression, partly due to the idiotic pressure on her to produce a male heir. Good luck to her and her family.

Aiko, the future empress of Japan, perhaps.

The future empress of Japan?

I don’t expect to be returning to the subject of royalty here soon, but I have just emembered that there are some heirs to the Korean throne kicking around somewhere...

And I discover that the son of the last Korean crown prince, Yi Ku, died last year (Korea Times article, Royal Archive article) in Japan, where he had been educated and spent much of his life in exile.

Yi Ku and Julia Mullock, his wife

Yi Ku and Julia Mullock, his wife

All very political. And of course the Japanese and Korean royal families may be very distant relatives, as the Japanese emperor pointed out a while ago.