Friday, October 28, 2005


I don’t know about you, but I’ve always gotten along very well without an emperor. Just sort of a personal quirk I have. Of course living here in Japan I am covered, I suppose, by the imperial umbrella, but somehow I don’t really feel that it’s raining.

There are frequent signs of quotidian imperial activity in the newspapers and on tv, some member of the imperial family waving stiffly through a limo window at an emperor-dependent crowd or giving an archaic speech and cutting a ribbon to open a canning plant, but personally I don’t see the need for an emperor in my own life.

Still it is of curious interest that the long male imperial line (which goes back only a few thousand years to some fairly recent gods, in comparison to everyone else’s genealogy, which stretches much further back, to the first humans) has reached a royal cul-de-sac: the next kids in line are all female. So the unthinkable has been proposed by a committee: let the Crown Prince’s little girl (gasp!) become emperor after him! She’s three years old at the moment, which gives all the stodges time to seek an alternative.

In a kind of imperial desperation, one scholarly panel has already suggested a way to avoid having a female on the Crysanthemum throne, but something tells me that the Japanese people themselves, comprising a majority of women, would welcome such a change after a millennia of male monotony, though the issue is not as simple as people without emperors might think.

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