Sat, Feb 04, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Plans for royal succession worry conservative Japan

AP , TOKYO

Several Cabinet members yesterday raised concerns about the prime minister's plan to submit legislation by June to allow women to take the Japanese throne, reflecting increasing opposition among conservative lawmakers.

To avert a succession crisis in the imperial family, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has been pushing to revise the 1947 law, which only allows men on the throne.

The imperial family has not produced a male heir since the 1960s, and public support has been growing for a legal change. But conservative lawmakers and academics have recently stepped up opposition, and several Cabinet ministers yesterday urged Koizumi to slow down.

"I doubt the bill has to be so desperately passed during the current parliamentary session," Foreign Minister Taro Aso said yesterday. "We need more time to discuss it thoroughly."

Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki also urged the process for the legal revision to slow down.

"We should take a long and hard look and act when the time is ripe," he said.

A special panel that studied the imperial succession issue last year recommended letting women on the throne, and Koizumi said in a major policy address last month that his government would soon submit legislation based on the recommendation to parliament.

Despite the overwhelming public support for the reform, traditionalists have stepped up their campaign to squash the move.

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