Imperial House Act (皇室典範)

Imperial House Act is a law of Japan, institution of which was indirectly obligated by the Constitution of Japan and which establishes the system, composition, and the like of the Imperial family, such as an order of succession of the Imperial Throne. As the Imperial House Act, there are one under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan (enacted [decided by the Emperor] on February 11, 1889) and one under the Constitution of Japan (January 16, 1947; Act No.3), with the former being referred to as the old Imperial House Act in differentiation from the latter.

Summary

The Imperial House Act under the system of Constitution of Japan was enacted as a "law" and is, like other laws, enacted and amended by the Parliament, thus the public being involved in the institution of the Imperial family itself through the Parliament.

The 2nd Article of the Constitution of Japan prescribes that the Imperial Throne is hereditary but, as for the manner thereof, the same provides that it shall be determined by the Imperial House Act and does not refer to, for example, the gender of the successor.

After the birth of Imperial Princess Aiko, revision of the Imperial House Act has begun to be discussed in order to maintain stable succession to the Imperial Throne because, even though the Imperial House Act approves succession to the Imperial Throne only by a male member of the Imperial family, young male members of the Imperial family are decidedly in short supply.

For example, there have been proposed opinions that succession of the throne by a female member of the Imperial family should be approved, that the former member of the Imperial family should be restored to the register of the Imperial family, etc. Also, there was presented an opinion that a male not belonging to the Imperial family should be approved to become a member of the family with a restriction that the intention of the person is respected and this is limited to a marriage between a female member of the Imperial family and a descendant in the male line of a former Imperial family. This is because, by doing so, succession of the throne by a male on the male side can be maintained, even when the female member of the Imperial family gave birth to a son and he became the Emperor, and restoration of former Miyake (house of an imperial prince) is thought to proceed smoothly without opposition of the public.

Conversely, however, the fact that such an opinion is presented also means that it is difficult to obtain public support for restoration of Miyake. Also, it is very difficult to judge how true is the intention of a member of the Imperial family, who can easily be guessed to have many things which he cannot, in his position, divulge to another person even if he wanted to.

Meanwhile, in 2006, there was born Imperial Prince Hisahito as a male member of the Imperial family for the first time in 41 years and the discussion about amendment of the Imperial House Act has calmed down.

(For details, refer to the problem of succession to the Imperial Throne [Heisei].)

Construction

Imperial House Act, Chapter 1, Succession to the Imperial Throne
Imperial House Act, Chapter 2, Imperial Family
Imperial House Act, Chapter 3, Regent
Imperial House Act, Chapter 4, Age of Maturity, Title of Honor, Ceremony of the Enthronement, Rites of an Imperial Funeral, Genealogy of the Imperial Family, and Mausoleum
Imperial House Act, Chapter 5, Imperial Household Council

Amendment

This law was amended once.

Amendment according to the Law for Disposition and the Like of Related Laws and Ordinances accompanying Enactment of General Administrative Agency of the Cabinet Establishment Act. The aim of the amended law is to, with the enforcement of General Administrative Agency of the Cabinet Establishment Act, change the letters in Soricho and Kunaifu in the related acts and ordinances to Sorifu and Kunaicho, respectively. Herewith, the letter in Kunaifu (Imperial Household Office) in this act was amended to Kunaicho (Imperial Household Agency). The amended law was enforced on June 1, 1949.