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Japan panel backs change to succession law to allow female monarchs

[JURIST] A government panel agreed Monday that Japan's succession law should be changed to allow the first-born child, irrespective of gender, the right to ascend to the throne, which would for the first time allow female members of the royal family [official website] to become monarchs. The advisory panel has been meeting since January to study the succession issue and make recommendations as a current lack of male heirs threatens to trigger a crisis unless current law is changed. Under the 1947 Imperial Household Law [text], only males with emperors on their father's side can inherit the crown. Final recommendations are likely to be forwarded to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Thursday. Koizumi has said he planned to submit a bill to Parliament next year to revise the law. The royal family is prohibited from interfering in politics under Japan's Constitution [text], and it has no say in the panel's discussions. Prince Tomohito, Emperor Akihito's cousin, has expressed his disapproval [AP report, PDF] of changing Japan's "unique tradition and history so easily." AP has more.

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