“I am very glad that the prince was born,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, who is likely to become Japan’s next prime minister. “It’s a refreshing feeling that reminds us of a clear autumn sky.”
So, the Japanese royal household has a baby boy at last. This ends years of agonising over their royal succession, and whether the constitution should be revised to allow women to inherit.
I’ve written before about this bizarre and outdated system of ‘salic primogeniture’, when the pregnancy was announced. I think the points made are worth repeating, especially in light of a subsequent debate I hosted here on the morality of the British monarchy.
[The new prince] will become third in line to the throne, leap-frogging two older sisters and his cousin Princess Aiko [the eldest child of the Crown Prince] … The message to Princess Aiko is simple: We wish you were not a girl. And the message to the country: boys are better than girls.
A monarch of the kind we see in Japan or the UK may not have much (if any) political power to change or influence the passage of law. But the institution is nevertheless a powerful symbol that can adversely affect the citizens – no, subjects – of the country in question. Therefore, its machinations should not be determined by centuries old traditions, which reflect centuries old prejudice. The issue is more noticable in Japan, which seems to have an even more conservative system than the UK. But the flaw is in the system itself, in the unequal, institutionalised relationship between the monarchy and the people. The problems that are manifesting themselves on those islands, could be repeated on these.