Wednesday, January 26, 2005

An Empress For Japan?

Not just as a consort, I mean. There are some rumors that this may be in the works:

Women could be allowed to ascend Japan's imperial throne under plans discussed yesterday by a commission set up to consider the succession crisis bedevilling one of the world's oldest monarchies.

The government-appointed team will report to the prime minister by autumn.

No boys have been born into the imperial family for 39 years and Princess Masako, the 41-year-old wife of Prince Naruhito, the heir to the chrysanthemum throne, is ill after a year-long battle with depression. If the succession laws change, the couple's only child, Princess Aiko, three, could become Japan's first reigning empress for more than 200 years.

But, as this article points out, the conservatives are likely to fight any changes in this. It would break an unbroken male lineage of 2,600 years. Which is interesting in itself, as the Japanese royal family is said to descend from Amaterasu, goddess of the sun. There might be a more ancient tradition here that could be tapped now.