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I’ve always been a fan of monarchies. Well, I mean, I like having a royal family. Of course it’s good that they aren’t actually in charge of anything. It’s just kinda cool. I especially like the monarchy (Emperorship?) in Japan, since they have historically been more of a figurehead than a ruler. (You can even see this a bit in The Last Samurai… there’s a bit of a civil war going on in Japan, but both sides are loyal to the Emperor…) But I’m having a hard time understanding how the whole system works in Japan…

The Imperial Family of Japan is, I’ve heard, the longest continuously rulling family in the world, dating back as much as 2665 years ago (although that’s pretty controversial). Eight woman have been Emperor in the past, but they can’t any more under the current imperial house law. (Yes, it is “Emperor” even for women, not Empress. It’s sort of like how the husband of the ruling Queen is just a Prince but the wife of a King is a Queen.) There are efforts to change this, considering that there hasn’t been a male heir born to the family in over 40 years, but this is fiercy opposedy by conservatives because they say this would break the line of succession. I don’t really get the reasoning behind this. It has something to do with the fact that succession has only gone through the male lineage. So even if you’re a boy, if the Emperor was your maternal grandfather, you can’t be Emperor. It has to go to one of your cousins instead. I guess woman would become Emperor, but their heir would be their brother’s children? Something like that. Still though, if you’re the daughter of the daughter of the Emperor, why isn’t there continuity of the royal bloodline between you? It seems a bit stupid. Maybe I should read the huge section on the subject on wikipedia…

The other thing that I don’t get is that any member of the Royal family can’t wed a commoner, and if they do they loose their status. This happened recently to Princess Sayako. But who can they marry then? I guess they must have knights and lords and whatnot in Japan too…

Actually, I just read that the current Empress (correct now, since it’s the wife of the ruling Emperor) was a commoner… I guess it’s only women who get the boot for marrying outside the royal family. That doesn’t seem very fair now does it…

Finally, I hate how in English we always refer to the Emperor by their given names. Emperor Hirohito, Emperor Akihito… Although I suppose they hated it when I refered to the latter as Emperor Heisei. Major faux pas that one, as I just learned recently. That is the name he’ll be refered to only posthumously. It’s not my fault I didn’t know how to say “His Majesty the Emperor” properly.

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