Imperial Family New Year Greeting,January 2, 2020.
What does the imperial family think about the imperial tradition?
It’s not easy to answer because the imperial family in Japan doesn’t have the right to freedom of expression, so we can only guess from what they have comment .
I’ll introduce excerpts from past addresses by Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, and Crown Prince Naruhito (at that time they were).
Emperor Akihito commented, “I am constantly seeking to find what the ideal role of the Emperor should be.”*1
Empress Michiko said, “On the other hand, traditions that remain only in form can stand in the way of social progress and there are instances in which old customs, continued in the name of tradition, can cause people to suffer.” *1
Crown Prince Naruhito commented, “Just as new winds blow in every age, the role of the imperial family changes.”*2
From these addresses, we can infer that they don’t always cling onto their tradition.
It’s important to preserve the tradition, but the imperial family isn’t bound by the stereotype that the tradition must be like this.
When once tradition, or whatever continues from the past, starts causing a failure, it should be changed to suit the times.
It’s certain that an infamous tradition: limiting an imperial heir to a male descendant, is bringing the imperial family to the brink of extinction.
The only way to stop it is to allow a female to ascend the throne.
Now is the time to create a new tradition.
*1. Responses by Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress of Japan on the Occasion of Their Majesties’ 50th Wedding Anniversary [The Imperial Household Agency Website]. Retrieved from
*2. Crown Prince Naruhito: One Step from the Imperial Throne [nippon.com]. Retrieved from
Written by Mamegashi (From Aichi)