Photo/IllutrationPeople wave to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko upon arrival to Kintetsu Railway Co.’s Ujiyamada Station in Ise, Mie Prefecture, following a visit to Ise Jingu shrine on April 18. (Pool)

  • Photo/Illustraion

More than three-quarters of survey respondents said they were familiar with the imperial family, a record high among all such polls conducted by The Asahi Shimbun over the past 60 years.

The survey was conducted nationwide by mail from March to April ahead of the enthronement of a new emperor on May 1. Of 3,000 people who received the mail, 2,043, or 68 percent, gave valid responses.

The Asahi Shimbun released the results of the latest survey on April 18.

In previous polls, the newspaper also asked respondents whether they were familiar with the imperial family, though the polls were done by interview and telephone, and thus a simple comparison cannot be made.

In a February 1959 survey, immediately before the marriage of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, 60 percent of respondents said they were familiar with the imperial family.

The corresponding figures dropped to a range between 40 and 50 percent in the polls in December 1978 and December 1982. In the two surveys, the rates for those who said they were not familiar with the imperial family were higher.

In a survey conducted in January 1989, immediately after Akihito was enthroned as new emperor, 54 percent of respondents said they were familiar with the imperial family.

The corresponding figure rose to 67 percent in a survey in April 1993, immediately before the marriage of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, to 71 percent in May 1994 and to 76 percent in the latest survey.

The figures tend to become higher when imperial family members are covered widely in the media owing to major events such as marriages and enthronements.

By sex, 73 percent of men and 79 percent of women replied in the latest survey that they were familiar with the imperial family. Among women in their 40s and higher age groups, the answer exceeded 80 percent. In particular, women in their 50s, the same age group as Masako, marked the highest rate of 84 percent.

By age group, 60 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 years old said they were familiar with the imperial family. On the other hand, corresponding figures among those in their 50s, 60s and the age group of 70 and older were 81 percent, 80 percent and 79 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, 61 percent of respondents said that if the emperor indicated a sentiment of wanting to abdicate, the government should allow him to do so.

Thirty-five percent replied that the government should make such a judgment with caution depending on circumstances.

The government has decided to outlay a budget for “daijosai,” a rice-offering ceremony by the new emperor scheduled to be held in November, on the grounds that it is public as well as religious in nature.

Regarding the decision, 53 percent of respondents said that they put a high value on it while 38 percent answered that they did not.

Respondents were also asked to choose from multiple answers with regard to roles they expect the new emperor to play.

The largest figure of 66 percent chose encouraging people by visiting areas affected by disasters; 55 percent selected visiting foreign countries or meeting important people from overseas; and 52 percent chose praying for peace through memorial services for the war dead.

Respondents were also asked whether they support female emperors and “jokei-tenno,” or children who were born between female emperors and non-imperial family men and later became emperors.

Seventy-six percent and 74 percent of respondents support allowing female emperors and jokei-tenno, respectively.

The respondents were also asked whether female members of the imperial family should be allowed to establish “miyake” branch families after marriage so that they can remain in the imperial family.

Fifty percent supported the idea, while 37 percent opposed it.