Thu, Jan 04, 2007 - Page 5 News List

`Sankei Shimbun' says Abe to drop female heir plans

AP , TOKYO

Japan will drop plans to allow women to inherit the country's imperial throne, following the birth last year of a long-awaited male heir, a news report said yesterday.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to ditch recommendations by a government panel in 2005 that an emperor's first child -- boy or girl -- should accede the throne, according to a report by the daily Sankei Shimbun.

The reform was designed to defuse a looming succession crisis for the royal family, which had produced no male heir in four decades.

But the drive, championed by former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koziumi, lost steam after the birth of Prince Hisahito on Sept. 6 to Kiko, the wife of the emperor's second son.

Abe now plans to encourage debate on other ways to make the imperial succession more stable, the paper said, citing unnamed officials.

Phones rang unanswered at the Cabinet Office, which handles the prime minister's affairs, yesterday. Abe is on holiday and returns to duties today.

Abe -- considered more conservative than Koizumi -- has repeatedly shown reluctance to change Japan's 1947 Imperial Household Law, which says only males with emperors on their father's side can reign as monarch.

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