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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 September 2006, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Head to head: Japan's royal birth

Japan's Princess Kiko has given birth to a baby boy.

The birth potentially resolves the country's succession crisis, as women are not allowed to ascend the throne and her son is the first male heir to be born into the Japanese imperial family for more than four decades.

The past year has seen heated debate over whether to change Japan's succession laws to allow women to ascend the throne.

Here, two people from either side of the debate react to the birth and discuss the security of Japan's imperial succession.


Yuki Iida
Yuki Iida would like to see women ascend Japan's throne

In a way, this is a disappointment.

While I am happy the baby is healthy, I would have liked to see a woman ascend the throne. I was looking forward to Japan's chance to modernise.

Politicians and the media were very quiet, so I suspected it was going to be a baby boy.

Perhaps Princess Aiko [the daughter of current heir Crown Prince Naruhito] is relieved. There would have been tremendous pressure if she were to continue the line.

But the public was open to the idea of changing the constitution and the nature of our monarchy.

I suppose people are happy to see that the argument about changing the constitution is going to be postponed. We like to delay solving problems. It's part of our culture.

There are calls from inside and outside the country for women to be better represented in our society
But there will come the time when we have to face the issue and reach some agreement. There is no guarantee that the baby boy is going to live until his 90s and produce an heir before he dies. Sooner or later, the problem has to be debated once again.

In a way, the succession crisis represents the broader trend of declining birth rates in Japan.

Part of the reason why the birth rate is declining is because more women are pursuing their own careers and goals and are unwilling to give that up for marriage and children.

It taps into a broader issue about the role of women in our society. There are calls from inside and outside the country for women to be better represented.

The country is moving towards that, but the monarchy is not.

The argument that the line of succession has to be male is only based on tradition. Tradition is more important than anything else in this country. Logic has little place here.

I have lived abroad and I find this slightly frustrating. Consensus is more important than personal opinion.

So, I wonder who would stick their neck out on the issue of women ascending the throne?


Shohei Kotani
Shohei Kotani would like to see more security for the male imperial line

I am very pleased about the news.

I phoned my grandmother to tell her that Princess Kiko had given birth to a boy. We were both very excited.

I would like to see the laws of succession changed, but not to allow female succession. I would like to see the laws changed to ensure more security for the male succession.

It would be very difficult to constantly ensure a male heir without the use of royal concubines, but in today's world there are obvious complications with that.

Yet it's what used to happen.

People don't want to deal with this anxiety anymore. One boy is not enough to secure the royal succession. Something may happen to him. I would still like to see a change to the law to map out which males might ascend the throne after him.

I'm not sure that I'm in such a minority.

When I showed up at office, people were very happy and relieved to hear the news that the baby was a boy.

One boy is not enough to secure the royal succession. Something may happen to him
Some people might link this crisis to Japan's declining birth rate. The government wants to intervene to reverse this. But it is against the Japanese mentality to legislate on something so private. People will resent the introduction of incentives to produce more babies.

I want the government to act a bit more aggressively, but few people share this view.

We just sit and watch ourselves. We do not act.

So I don't feel content with just the one male heir. I would like Crown Prince Naruhito to make a further effort to have one more.

The mass media are very afraid to convey any bad message to the imperial family especially when Princess Masako is very ill.

But it would make the line more secure and reassure the Japanese public.

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