Trouble is, there is no Empress. She is merely the wife of the Emperor. When he dies the locus will move to his son the crown prince. There are plenty of women Emperors in Japan's 2,500 year history of Emperors, but that won't change again until the crown prince's only daughter survives him.
The relevance of this story is to summarize my recent trip to Japan.
Japan, until 1944, was the greatest military power in history. Japan is beginning to feel that history as China exercises an aggressive military stance. And the U.S. relinquishes its global role.
I talked to a dozen knowledgeable people connected to the foreign service, think tanks and other parts of Japan's elites. As I do every annual trip to Japan. There is a consensus that the American president is an 'idiot' (their word) , and his Japan Ambassador (Caroline Kennedy) is a 'bobble-head'. Japan must become militarily more powerful and capable of acting on its own. Legally and with a competent military force. The general voting public is staying out of this. Young people are supporting this direction.
Most Japanese in power believe that Japan is currently superior, militarily, to China in air and sea forces. China bought one carrier from Russia to refurbish. Japan manufactures carriers and nuclear submarines for sale to allied nations. Japan just created the first littoral carrier with a deck to launch 5 helicopters simultaneously and carry 50 below deck.
Japan is no longer concerned about population decline. It expects the decline to level out around 85 million people, down from 122 million. All factory labor will be done overseas much as it is now. Robots will be a major part of the new work force and elderly care. The level of labor productivity is capable of 3-4 times the current output. Management is capable of massive improvements in productivity. The population is becoming more urban than any other country, except Singapore. Which will be a source of strong economic efficiency. Food production is becoming hi-tech and will be more so in the future, available for export.
Japan is aggressively forming economic and military alliances with its Pacific partners. Vietnam, Thailand and Australia. Other countries are on the list of potential allies in a second or later stage.
South Korea is merely a nuisance with little change expected in future relations.
Japan remains a creative and highly productive nation; with a hard working educated people and a highly stable political-social environment.
Japan is the only society on the planet that retains its tribal, traditional behavior and values with an ultra modern functioning commercial market. Cherry blossoms are the national religion. Cherry blossom time is the beginning and end of all commercial functions including bookkeeping, budgets and the school year.