Crown Prince Naruhito Gives Keynote Address to Water Forum

  March 17, 2009 at 12:55 pm by

Naruhito leaving for the World Water Forum

Click the image to see the photo at Reuters

At the opening of the 5th World Water Forum (WWF) on Monday in Istanbul, Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito said in his keynote speech that he hopes the international community will increase its efforts to tackle the issue of global warming as it is closely related to water-related issues in the world. The prince especially stressed the significance of a free and open discussion of global water issues. Government ministers from 120 countries, scientists and campaigners meet in Istanbul this week to discuss how to avert a global water crisis and ease tensions between states fighting over rivers, lakes and glaciers.

The Japanese crown prince who attended already the third as well as the fourth Water Forum (Kyoto 2003 and Mexico 2006) has assumed honorary presidency of the UN Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation in 2007. He has a keen interest in worldwide water-related issues and has been conducting his own studies.

The strong scientific interest of Japanese royals dates back as far as 1925 when a special “biological” laboratory was built at the request of Crown Prince Hirohito. Hirohito, who was to become Emperor Taisho hereafter (until 1989), had a love for marine biology that absorbed most of his (scarce) free hours. During the war, he was obliged to abstain from his preferred hobby as his advisers deemed it a “self-indulgence inappropriate to wartime”. But he resumed it after Japan’s defeat and became a recognized international authority in the study of sea life. (He published more than twenty monographs under the name of: “Hirohito, Biological Laboratory, Imperial Household, Tokyo.”) The scientific specialty of his son, Emperor Akihito, is fish genetics. The emperor has published 26 scientific papers on goby fish.

Crown Prince Naruhito, in his turn, has, early in life, shown a lively interest in roadways: “Since I have been leading a life where I have few chances to go out freely, roads are a precious bridge to the unknown world, so to speak.” Later on, he successfully combined this fondness with the liking for water that is customary in his family, by making waterways the theme of his two theses. (One of them he wrote in Japan, about “Maritime Transportation in the Seto Inland Sea”, the other at Oxford about “Navigation and Traffic” on – no prize for guessing – the Thames.)

Incidentally, by this choice of subject the prince has also gained another purpose. As, since the war, the tenno and his family are to act as symbols of the national unity and have to represent the whole nation, they are obliged to remain strictly neutral and to absolutely refrain from giving even the slightest hint about any political opinions they may entertain. Starting from innocuous marine biology and goby fish and proceeding to the still uncontroversial traffic on river Thames, the Japanese crown prince has, by speaking at the World Water Forum, succeeded in coming as close to controversial politics as a Japanese royal can ever hope to get.

To read an article about Prince Naruhito’s speech, click here.

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One Response to Crown Prince Naruhito Gives Keynote Address to Water Forum

  1. Pingback: The Royal Forums » The Prince of Orange Speaks at 5th World Water Forum

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