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Japan Will Enthrone a New Emperor. His Wife Won’t Be Allowed to Watch.

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As part of the historic handover of Japan’s imperial throne on Wednesday, the incoming emperor, Naruhito, will receive a sword, a jewel and official seals in a sacred ceremony that dates back thousands of years.

Naruhito, 59, is to take the Chrysanthemum Throne a day after his father, Emperor Akihito, 85, becomes the first Japanese emperor to abdicate in more than 200 years.

The ascension ceremony in a state room at the imperial palace will make history in another way: For the first time in the modern era, a woman will be present. Satsuki Katayama, the sole woman in the cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, will be on hand to witness this first step in Naruhito’s enthronement.

But the new empress, Masako, Naruhito’s wife of 26 years, will not be allowed to attend — another illustration of the diminished status of women in the imperial family, and of the challenges women face more broadly in Japanese society.


Under the Imperial Household Law, which governs the line of succession as well as most matters of protocol related to Japan’s monarchy, women in the royal family are not permitted to be in the room when the new emperor receives the sacred regalia signifying his rightful succession to the world’s oldest monarchy.

But the prohibitions go much further. Women are not allowed to reign. In fact, women born into the royal family must officially leave it once they marry, and none of their children can be in line to the throne.

Those rules have left the imperial family with precious few heirs. After Naruhito takes the throne, the line of succession will include his uncle, Prince Hitachi, 83, Naruhito’s younger brother, Prince Akishino, 53, and Akishino’s son, Prince Hisahito, 12. The only child of Naruhito and Masako, Princess Aiko, 17, will not be eligible to sit on the throne.


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4 hours ago, Bacon said:

Japan: The Last Bastion for Men's rights


Until they make it so Japanese women can’t leave the house without being accompanied by a male family member, can’t drive, and only their eyes can be visible, I’d say there are some places in the Middle East that top Japan’s sexism. 

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