National rejoicing greeted the birth of a male heir to the Japanese Chrysanthemum throne today. The first male born to the family since 1965. The birth of the unnamed prince effectively ends any move to revise the succession laws to allow Princess Aiko, the only child of the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan to succeed. Of course it is certainly politically correct for politicians to say that the debate will continue, paying lip service to the female population of Japan, who today had further confirmation of the inequality of their sex. However, tradition trumps change and progress.
When Princess Aiko was born in 2001, eight years after the marriage of her parents, it sparked a succession crisis which seemed inevitable until it was announced in February that Princess Kiko, wife of the second son of the Emperor was pregnant with her third child. Princess Aiko as a female could not, according to the present succession laws, succeed to the throne.
Thankfully Aiko, at four years old, is too young to fully realize what she's lost. The opportunity to make a change. To be a symbol of equality to Japanese women. Her parents may be relieved that she doesn't have to shoulder the burden of such a lofty position, but as the first and only child of the Crown Prince and Princess she has been deprived of a birthright otherwise denied to her because of her sex.
Should this new child have been a girl, Aiko might still have had a chance. Now we can only wonder what might have been. The new prince is now third in line to the throne, behind his uncle, the Crown Prince and his father. The status quo has been maintained and traditionalists can breathe a sigh of relief until the next generation. One thing is for certain, we have not heard the last of this issue.
© Marilyn Braun 2006
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