Why Japan only has three people in its line of succession

By 外務省, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Japan may be the oldest continually hereditary monarchy in the world, but it has one of the smallest lines of succession.

The line of succession is limited to males only through the Imperial Household Law. Only direct-line males may succeed to the throne.

It is discussed in Chapter 1: Article 1 of the Imperial Household Law of 1947: “The Imperial Throne shall be succeeded to by a male offspring in the male line belonging to the Imperial Lineage.”

Article 2 details how the line of succession should look:

  1. The Emperor’s eldest son
  2. The Emperor’s eldest son’s eldest son
  3. The eldest son of the Emperor’s other descendants
  4. The Emperor’s second son and his descendants
  5. The Emperor’s other descendants
  6. The Emperor’s brothers and their descendants
  7. The Emperor’s uncles and their descendants

The line of succession to follow Emperor Naruhito is as follows:

  1. Crown Prince Akishino (b. 1965)
  2. Prince Hisahito (b. 2006)
  3. Prince Hitachi (b. 1935)

There have been debates on changing Imperial Household Law to allow for female succession, but as of yet, nothing has been agreed upon or changed.

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About the Author

Brittani Barger
Brittani is from the United States and has been researching, writing and reporting on the royals for over a decade. Successfully gaining exclusives and interviews with royals across the globe, Brittani left her role as an editor for another news site to help bring you Royal News. She's been seen on BBC World, WION News and other news programs to discuss the royal families.

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