News Emperor’s brother, Prince Fumihito, named as heir to Japan’s throne

Emperor’s brother, Prince Fumihito, named as heir to Japan’s throne

Crown Princess Kiko and Japanese Crown Prince Fumihito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Sunday. Photo: PA
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Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s younger brother, Crown Prince Fumihito, has been formally sworn in as first in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne in a traditional palace ritual that has been postponed for seven months and scaled down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ceremony for the 54-year-old crown prince, better known as Prince Akishino, concludes a series of imperial succession rituals that began in May last year when Naruhito ascended to the throne after their 86-year-old father Akihito abdicated.

Inside the palace’s most prestigious Pine Room, Naruhito, 60, declared that his younger brother is now officially the crown prince who is first in line to succeed the throne of the world’s oldest monarchy.

The ceremony, initially scheduled for April 19, was postponed after Japan’s government issued a state of emergency due to the pandemic.

Sunday’s proclamation for the crown prince paves the way for the government to start discussing what to do with the dire shortage of heirs.

Naruhito’s succession left only two younger men in line for the throne – Fumihito and his 14-year-old son, Hisahito. Naruhito’s 18-year-old daughter, Aiko, and the crown prince’s two daughters Mako and Kako are not in line because they are women.

Japan’s Imperial House Law, largely based on pre-war constitution, does not allow a female emperor and bars women when they marry commoners.

The government in 2005 considered the possibility of female emperors, but the discussion halted as soon as Hisahito was born the following year.

Surveys have shown that most Japanese support having female emperors, as Aiko has become increasingly popular.