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68% of Japanese support idea of “female emperor,” Mainichi poll

According to the Mainichi Shimbun nationwide survey conducted on April 22–23, some 68% of pollees said they support the idea of a “female emperor,” vastly exceeding the 12% who are opposed. The Abe administration is reluctant to allow a female emperor or a female-line emperor whose father is not a member of the Imperial family ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne. The poll indicates that the administration is out of step with the public on this issue.


More male than female respondents said they are in favor of allowing female emperors. Some 72% of men were in favor of the idea of a female emperor and 12% were opposed, while 65% of women were in favor and 12% were opposed. Even among cabinet supporters, 68% support the concept of female emperors.


An expert committee set up under the Koizumi administration to explore the idea of allowing female emperors and female-line emperors submitted a report in support of female emperors in 2005. The December 2005 Mainichi Shimbun nationwide poll found 85% of pollees were in favor of the idea of female emperors. In the September 2006 poll, conducted soon after the birth of Prince Hisahito to Prince and Princess Akishino, the figure dropped to 72%. The figure still reflects strong support for the idea of female emperors.


In the recent poll, respondents were also asked how they feel about Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. In relation to Emperor Akihito, 30% said they feel he is “irreplaceable,” while 20% said they feel “close to him” and 17% said they feel “positively about him.” With regard to Empress Michiko, 27% said they feel “close to her,” while 22% said they feel “positively about her” and 20% said they feel she is “irreplaceable.”


Although the Emperor and Empress often perform their official duties together, Japanese hold Emperor Akihito in greater respect while they feel closer to Empress Michiko.


[Polling methodology: The survey was conducted by pollsters during the two-day period of April 22–23 over the telephone across the nation on a computer-aided random digit sampling (RDS) basis. The survey excluded telephone numbers in municipalities designated as “difficult-to-return” zones due to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. A total of 1,599 households with one or more persons age 18 or over were sampled. Responses were obtained from 1,011 persons (63%).]


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