Thursday, September 07, 2006

It's a boy!

Princess KikoU-oh, not me. ;)

Japan's Princess Kiko gave birth to a 2558-gram healthy baby boy, Wednesday morning via a C-section in one of Tokyo's finest hospitals. Princess Kiko is the wife of Prince Akishino, younger son of Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. They have two daughters, Princess Mako and Princess Kako.

And so, the long wait is over. Or is it?

The birth of their third child has been on the spotlight since Princess Kiko's pregnancy was announced last February. It was at this time that the Japanese legislators were considering revising the Imperial House Law to allow an Imperial female member to reign. The baby is the first male heir born to the Imperial family after 41 years, the time when his own father was born. He will be the third in line to reign the Chrysanthemum throne, next to Crown Prince Naruhito (eldest son of the Emperor), and his own father.

More than the joy and delight felt by many after the great news of the birth, issues concerning the Imperial family (and Japan, in general) still linger around. Here are a few, if not all.

1. The birth of the Imperial baby boy does NOT guarantee assured succession in the (not-so-far) future. It is possible that he may be the last in line.

2. With that in mind, some believe that the succession law must be revised to allow female heirs to the throne. Currently, the 1947 law posits that only males with an emperor on their father side can ascend to the throne. If the law is revised, then Princess Aiko, only daughter of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, will have her chance to reign as an empress.

3. Another greater part of the Japanese population, on the other hand, wants to preserve the traditional succession as it is today. It has been a major part of the Japanese culture that largely shape what Japan is now. Preserving such customs is like paying respect to where we (the Japanese) have come from.

4. On the othe side of Japan is the more modern one, and those who belong to this kind if thinking frown with the thought that Japan is still backwards when it comes to gender equality. Is it, really? The succession law is one concrete example. Another is in the male-dominated business world, where female workers rarely assume managerial/higher positions.

As a non-Japanese, I am just trying to take in all the points raised. Neither do I agree nor disagree. Each side has its own pros and cons, and largely debatable.

This country is faced with several challenges at this time; the succession law is just one of those. But whichever way it goes, it will certainly do some sacrificial moves. Whether left or right, whether here or there, whether change or not, there will be some things that must (need to) be left behind. But I sincerely believe in Japan's innate capability to intelligently decide and take on the path it rightly wants to go.



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