since 1997, the world's premier FREE website for learners + teachers of English
photo Tara Benwell Instructions:
  1. Preview the vocabulary and read the gapfill text.
  2. Play the news report and try to fill in the blanks.
  3. Answer the comprehension questions by writing full sentences.
  4. Use the discussion question to write an essay or discuss the story with other students.
  5. Click "show Answers" to see the full text.
  6. Pretend to be a news anchor by reading each story out loud.

Japan’s Imperial Family Continues to Shrink

dateline: 17 May 2017

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • emperor: the head of an imperial family
  • commoner: a person who is not part of a royal family
  • imperial: related to an empire
  • ascend: to move up into a position or rank
  • bear heirs: to have children that are in line for the throne
  • shrink: to get smaller

Japan’s Imperial Family Continues to Shrink

Princess Mako, the eldest of Japanese Emperor Akihito, will soon be marrying a commoner and giving up her royal status. According to imperial law in Japan, a must leave the imperial family when she weds. The heir to the throne in Japan is always male, and are only a few males left in the imperial family. Many people in Japan think women in the imperial family should have the right to ascend and bear heirs to the . If the laws don’t change, the family will shrink further. Under the current law, the emperor is also not allowed to give up the throne until he dies.

Comprehension Questions

  1. Who is Princess Mako?
  2. Why won’t the princess be part of the imperial family when she gets married?
  3. What can’t the Emperor’s son take over his aging father’s role?

Discussion Questions: Do you think Japan’s imperial law should and will be changed to allow Japanese women in the imperial family to ascend to the throne and bear heirs to the throne? Why or why not?

show Answers

Written by Tara Benwell for EnglishClub
Tara Benwell is a Canadian freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry.

Teacher's Notes

Subscribe to EnglishClub Podcasts RSS Feed

2 Comments on “Japan’s Imperial Family Continues to Shrink”

  1. Alberto says:

    Contrary to popular belief, the Japan’s imperial law is similar to others in the rest of the world. In Spain, for example, men have rights over women in order to ascend. If there is a man in the royal family, any woman has the right to become the queen.

    I don´t agree with this and I am sure that it will change soon. In other case the Japan imperial family will dissapear.

  2. Bijan says:

    Dear Tara,

    First, thank you for this week report news.
    Second, I was surprised when I heard that women don’t have the right to ascend and bear heirs to the throne in Japan.

    In accordance with the news, many people in Japan think women should have this right.
    Maybe, the law changes in Japan in the future in accordance with people’s opinions.

    Now, in many countries women are leaders of their countries and lead in the best way.

    Thank you and best wishes,

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below