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  #701  
Old 04-13-2012, 11:54 AM
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A University of Sydney taxonomist has built on the research of Emperor Akihito of Japan, perhaps the world's best known ichthyologist, to classify a new family of fish. [...]

Dr Gill says the differences between Thalasseleotrididae, found in temperate Australian and New Zealand marine waters, and the predominantly freshwater and estuarine gudgeons in the family Eleotrididae are in their bones. "It's the shape, and presence or absence of certain bones in the pectoral girdle and gill arches that make thalasseleotridids stand out from other gudgeons," he says. "Some of these characters were already discussed by Emperor Akihito in the 1960s and 1980s, but their significance wasn't fully appreciated."

With only a little over 500 fish families recognised worldwide, the proposal of a new family is a rare event in ichthyology. However, Dr Gill emphasises creation of the new family is a refinement as much as it is a discovery. "In my field finding characters is critically important and offers something for others to build on. The guts of our contribution is in the reinterpretation of existing characters first identified by Emperor Akihito, as well as the proposal of new characters we have discovered. All of the characters are now there for critical re-examination by future workers.
Science Alert
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"In order to make the area inhabitable again, we face the difficult problem of removing radiation." - Emperor Akihito

(Following recent incidents, I would like to refer anybody who may think the emperor´s statement obvious or redundant to this thread, post #682.)
  #702  
Old 04-19-2012, 09:18 PM
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Japanese Emperor thanks Taiwan for disaster aid
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Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko thanked Taiwan Thursday for its assistance following a massive earthquake and tsunami that battered Japan last year. According to a report aired on Nippon Television, Akihito and his wife expressed Japan's gratitude in person to Taiwan's representative to Japan, John Feng,
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Old 04-20-2012, 08:38 AM
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Emperor Akihiko has hosted a tea party for leaders of the Mekong nations at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on
April 20, 2012. The leaders of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam are in Tokyo to hold a summit
meeting with Japanese Prime Minster Yoshihiko Noda tomorrow.




** Pic 1 ** Pic 2 ** Pic 3 ** gettyimages/reuters/daylife gallery **
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  #704  
Old 04-20-2012, 01:27 PM
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Thanks for the photos!
It is great that Emperor Akihito feel well and is able to resume his duties. Prime Minister of Thailand looked lovely.
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Old 04-24-2012, 01:13 PM
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Imperial couple to visit Tokyo Sky Tree
Emperor and Empress to visit Tokyo Sky Tree
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Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will visit Tokyo Sky Tree, the world's tallest stand-alone communications tower on Thursday. The visit will take place ahead of its opening in late May, the Imperial Household Agency said on Tuesday.
  #706  
Old 04-26-2012, 08:11 AM
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Japanese Emperor, Empress visit Tokyo Sky Tree

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Daylife Gallery

Japanese Emperor visits Tokyo Sky Tree

Quote:
Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited Tokyo Sky Tree, the world's tallest stand- alone communications tower, on Thursday ahead of its opening to the public, the Imperial Household Agency said. [...] The operator of Tokyo Sky Tree initially extended the invitation to the emperor in March, but the emperor's health condition at that time was not good after his heart surgery in February.
China Daily USA
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"In order to make the area inhabitable again, we face the difficult problem of removing radiation." - Emperor Akihito

(Following recent incidents, I would like to refer anybody who may think the emperor´s statement obvious or redundant to this thread, post #682.)
  #707  
Old 04-26-2012, 08:55 AM
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Gov't to study cremation of emperor, empress at their request

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The government will study the possibility of cremating Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko after they die at their request in a departure from the long-held tradition of burying deceased imperial family members in the earth, a senior Imperial Household Agency official said Thursday. Shingo Haketa, grand steward of the agency, said the emperor and empress, aged 78 and 77, hope to be cremated as the way of treating the dead is widely accepted by the Japanese general public. The imperial couple have also expressed a desire to lessen the impact of their funeral ceremonies on people's lives, agency officials said.

Following their request, the government will examine the size and type of their graves, where to conduct funeral services for them and whether it is appropriate to inter their ashes in the same place, they said. Haketa said the couple had been contemplating changing the method of burial and decided to make their idea public after the emperor recovers from heart bypass surgery. [...]
Mainichi Japan
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"In order to make the area inhabitable again, we face the difficult problem of removing radiation." - Emperor Akihito

(Following recent incidents, I would like to refer anybody who may think the emperor´s statement obvious or redundant to this thread, post #682.)
  #708  
Old 04-26-2012, 09:09 AM
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I more and more get the depressing impression that the Imperial Family are national prisoners rather than national representatives.
Even their death is not their own.

Out of curiosity, has the concept of being buried something directly to do with the Shinto religion, while the concept of being cremated has more to do with Buddism?
I have to confess that I'm far from familiar with burial rituals in East Asia.
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Old 04-26-2012, 02:29 PM
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Honestly, I am not sure if this has anything to do with Shinto vs. Buddhism. For a very long time the two religions peacefully coexisted anyway, it was only with the Meiji Restoration that Shinto was, somewhat artificially, “purified” to take the nationalistic form of “State Shinto”. I suppose the request of the imperial couple has rather practical reasons.
Quote:
Until the early 20th century most bodies were buried and cremation was limited to the wealthy. Cremation became more common after World War II due to its efficiency and cleanliness; in fiscal 2009, 99.9% of Japanese bodies were cremated, and some local governments ban burials.
Wikipedia

In this case, I honestly believe that this may actually be the emperor´s free will. It is very important for the Japanese royals to make it clear that they are not enjoying any unnecessary privileges or are causing any unnecessary trouble to people.
Still, in general I do not disagree with your term “prisoner”. In some respects, I think that is very true. I suppose you have read in the “General news”-thread that the imperial family are being fed radioactive milk. Last year, the crown prince´s family even holidayed in the radiation area. I somehow have a hard time believing that the emperor would consent his precious grandson to be given radioactive food or that the crown prince and princess would willingly do anything that could endanger their young daughter´s health. Still, it is happening.


Japan's Crown Prince and Princess Taking Their 9-Year-Old Daughter to High-Radiation Summer Retreat
Quote:

...in order to show to the commoners that they, too, suffer in the area served by TEPCO, speculates a journalist following Japan's imperial families. The Crown Prince and Princess are taking their small daughter to the imperial retreat in Nasu in Tochigi Prefecture. Radioactive rice hay containing 106,000 becquerels/kg of cesium was found in nearby Nasu Shiobara. [...]

From Gendai Media magazine (7/30/2011):
Now it's a summer vacation season, and Japan's imperial families will spend the summer in imperial retreats. After the nuclear plant accident, some people have been wondering where they choose to go. According to one journalist who follows the Japanese imperial families, "The Emperor and Empress go to the retreat in Suzaki [in Shizuoka Prefecture] and Karuizawa [in Nagano Prefecture], and the Crown Prince's family goes to the retreat in Suzaki and Nasu, in Tochigi Prefecture. It has been like that for several years now. But this year, a very high level of radiation has been detected in Nasu. So we've been wondering if they go to Nasu this year. [...] The radiation level in Karuizawa is lower compared to Nasu. There were those in the Imperial Household Agency who recommended the Crown Prince's family to go to Karuizawa for the summer, but it was decided that the family would go to Nasu, just like last year. "Officials at the Imperial Household Agency were saying, "The summer retreat will be the same as last year. It cannot be outside the area served by TEPCO." Karuizawa is the area served by Chubu Electric. When the Japanese citizens are suffering the heat of the summer in order to "conserve electricity", they may not look kindly at the Crown Prince family escaping the TEPCO area. The imperial retreat in Nasu let the earthquake/tsunami evacuees use the bath for the employees and it was very popular with the evacuees", added the same journalist. There's no way that the Crown Prince and Princess are not worried about the effect of radiation, but they [or the Imperial Household Agency] decided to portray themselves as one with the citizens of Japan.

At least some citizens of Japan would understand if they escape TEPCO, and rather have them take their young daughter to a lower radiation location and state the reason clearly - to avoid radiation.
It's not that the imperial families have much say in the matter. After all, the Kan administration sent the Emperor and Empress to Fukushima, had them eat Fukushima food and bring some as souvenirs.


Comment: In the central Tokyo where they live, the air radiation level is much higher than the official Tokyo number in Shinjuku since the accident. They live in a park-like setting with tons of trees, dirt, grass (i.e. even higher radiation).
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"In order to make the area inhabitable again, we face the difficult problem of removing radiation." - Emperor Akihito

(Following recent incidents, I would like to refer anybody who may think the emperor´s statement obvious or redundant to this thread, post #682.)
  #710  
Old 04-26-2012, 02:39 PM
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Incidentally, the emperor seems to have made a second attempt to adress Fukushima in a honest way. And guess what? They have done it again. Some newspapers seem to have "edited" (read: censored) his statements...

Japan's Emperor Speaks About Disaster Debris, And the Media Edits

Quote:
The emperor of Japan, during the annual Spring Garden Party that he hosts, talked to the governor of Miyagi Prefecture and asked him about the disaster debris. Depending on the newspaper you read, you would get a different idea on what the emperor may have said. [...]
To sum things up, it seems that some newspapers report that the emperor expressed his concern regarding the debris, "There are dangerous substances in the debris, aren't there? Like asbestos?" and asked the governor to do his utmost to protect the health of the workers. In the light of Akihito´s recent speech at the anniversary, this account seems very probable (see also my signature).

In contrast, the Nikkei Shimbun, a big economic paper (one of the five leading national daily newspapers), did not inform its readers about the emperor´s worries that the debris might be dangerous. Instead, they made it appear as if he was simply concerned about people´s willingness to accept the radioactive material. Reading their version, one gets the impression that the emperor thinks it sort of a patriotic duty of citizens to accept the debris in spite of possible consequences for their health – which is, in all probability, the complete opposite of what he meant to express...

One of the comments directly requests the emperor to speak more clearly and to take the lead in saving Japan from a nuclear catastrophe:

Quote:
Japan now faces its greatest enemy yet, an enemy so powerful that no man anywhere knows how to control it once it starts its course of destruction. Worse, that enemy has powerful allies in the highest seats of power inside Japan's government itself. At their hands, Japan is on the brink of annihilation. Japan's very survival is at stake. The emperor must do more. He must explain the historic priorities to all of the Japanese people.

Japan can survive without nuclear energy. It did so for thousands of years. It should be clear also from recent history that Japan CANNOT survive WITH nuclear energy. The emperor must do more to ensure the country has the correct priorities and perspective on this problem.

Nuclear energy must be stopped at all 54 commercial scale nuclear power plants.

Nuclear waste being stored at all 54 of Japan's nuclear plants must be permanently sealed in safe storage casks - most likely in Fukushima.

The waste created by TEPCO's disaster must be moved back to the Fukushima area. It must not be spread through ashes, air, or through blending into products and food.

The farms and businesses in the Fukushima area must be closed.

The people of the Fukushima area must be relocated.

TEPCO's mess must be fully secured against further calamities while the site is cleaned up - without tight-fisted TEPCO deciding what to spend on the problem.

Emperor Akihito must be more clear and direct. THIS is Japan's most challenging time ever. His perspective is very much needed. And it is needed now more than ever in Japan's history.

PLEASE LEAD!
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"In order to make the area inhabitable again, we face the difficult problem of removing radiation." - Emperor Akihito

(Following recent incidents, I would like to refer anybody who may think the emperor´s statement obvious or redundant to this thread, post #682.)
  #711  
Old 04-26-2012, 03:15 PM
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Thanks, ChiaraC

It is admittedly very difficult for me to genuinely comprehend that you can gag an Emperor or that you would even attempt to gag an Emperor.
Or that you can treat the Imperial family like that. - That's why this is so facinating for me and I truly appreciate your patient explanations.

No, I wasn't aware of the milk-story. However feeding anyone, children in particular, royal or not, milk that may be contaminated with radioactivity, would cause an uproar in practically all other countries in the world. - The mere hint of a suspicion would be enough.
Again, it's very difficult for me to understand why the Japanese people don't react.
I realise that there is a cultural difference, however I cannot help wondering at what point the "establishment" cross the line and people start to react.
All it basically takes is for a member of the Imperial family to speak out to a foreign newspaper. Then what? What will, what can the "establishment" do? Put the Imperial family under house arrest? They are under house arrest.

I understand that the request about cremation is a formality, fair enough.
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  #712  
Old 04-26-2012, 04:10 PM
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I'm pretty much ignorant on the Imperial Family and Japanese culture generally, but I so feel for the Emperor and Empress. They are essentially puppets of the institution. The fact that the government has to 'study' their request to be cremated is so odd, to my eyes anyway. The idea that these people can't even make their own funeral arrangements is amazing.

They seemed to do so well when meeting with victims of the tsunami last year. I was very impressed by their heartfelt attempts to try and ease some of the pain of the victims.

I hope the Emperor and Empress will be able to come to London next month for QEII's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. I know David Cameron passed on the invitation personally.
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Old 04-26-2012, 04:30 PM
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The British Royal family is puppets as well. There is a huge difference in culture and traditions. Unlike their British counterparts, the Imperial family is not subjected to cheap tabloid musings. While studying the request in question might seem odd to you, there must a protocol for such things in place and both parties follow it.
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  #714  
Old 04-27-2012, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by EIIR View Post
They seemed to do so well when meeting with victims of the tsunami last year. I was very impressed by their heartfelt attempts to try and ease some of the pain of the victims.
Yes, I quite agree.
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Originally Posted by Muhler View Post
Thanks, ChiaraC

It is admittedly very difficult for me to genuinely comprehend that you can gag an Emperor or that you would even attempt to gag an Emperor.
Or that you can treat the Imperial family like that. - That's why this is so facinating for me and I truly appreciate your patient explanations.
Thank you for the compliment. It is always a pleasure. Besides, this is a matter that I feel people should know about.

Cultural differences are certainly very important, in many respects. In this point I agree with Albina. Shortly after the Fukushima disaster, a woman was being interviewed in TV. She was born in Germany but was married to a Japanese and was living with him and their baby son in Japan. After the catastrophe, she came to visit her family in Germany with her baby because she wanted to protect her little son from radiation. She said that her husband as well as her in-laws judged her as selfish. In fact, they were so angry with her that they refused to answer her calls. As a consequence, she had no idea how they were doing and was very worried about their well-being...

There seems to be a big cultural difference between Germany and Japan in terms of what is being judged as selfish behaviour. If the woman had come to Germany by herself, leaving her Japanese relatives behind, I think that many here, too, would have thought that she was letting them stand alone. But if it was to save her baby, everybody would understand this motive here. In Japan not, obviously. (Generally speaking, Japanese people are traditionally required to always put their duty (to their lord) over their family, including their children.)

This at least partly explains that such a story like the one with the radioactive milk can even happen. (To make sure that we all know what we are talking about: The imperial family has a farm that is managed by the Imperial Household Agency. It produces organic vegetables, eggs, meat, and milk for use in the imperial household. Unfortunately, since the Fukushima disaster there are elevated levels of radiation in the region where the farm is located. Still, the IHA has kept sending the products to the imperial household - and five-year-old Prince Hisahito happens to be very fond of the milk from the farm...)

On one hand, it can in my opinion happen very easily that people could judge the imperial family as selfish if the royals should make use of any privileges, for themselves or for their children. On the other hand, it is really absurd that they would feed their one precious male heir radioactive milk. For whatever reason, there have been many childless couples in the imperial family in the last two generations. Two out of Emperor Hirohito´s four sons - Prince Chichibu and Prince Takamatsu - remained childless. Also the brother of Emperor Akihito has no children. This means that if they rely on but one heir – Prince Hisahito – to continue the family line they are - already - playing a rather risky game. If they now put this heir´s fertility even more in danger by feeding him radioactive milk, one begins to wonder if Japan´s monarchists are running for some odd sort of Darwin Award... (“In the spirit of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species' chances of long-term survival. Accidental self-sterilization also qualifies.” Wikipedia)

Incidentally, just for the record, it is not just imperial children who are given radioactive food. A Tokyo senior has initiated a campaign to get elderly people to eat rice grown in Fukushima Prefecture. While you may think this a very extreme example of the famous Japanese spirit that glorifies self-sacrifice, you should be aware of the alternative. You may think that nobody should eat this contaminated rice, whether young or old, and that the farmers should be recompensed (and relocated). But obviously that is too expensive. Instead, the farmers are obliged to sell their rice in order to survive themselves. While understandably a lot of people hesitate to buy it, there are actually no regulations obliging restaurants and makers of "bento" (boxed lunches) to list the origins of the rice they use. As a consequence, customers have no possibility to make a choice between restaurants that offer contaminated rice and others that do not. Obviously, this may very well lead to children eating Fukushima rice.

Second, concerning the silencing of the emperor (or the re-interpretation of his words in a way that is politically more convenient), one has to say that there is a very old tradition in Japan to use the emperor as a mere figurehead. In fact, a lot of emperors were enthroned as children and abdicated in their twenties to make room for the next boy-emperor. Emperor Go-Daigo (1288 – 1339) became famous for his attempt to restore direct imperial rule. That he would make this attempt while none of his predecessors had ever rebelled against the Kamakura shogunate since it had been established in 1192 becomes less surprising if you realize that most of the 13 emperors between 1192 and 1318 (when Go-Daigo ascended) were boy-emperors which means they took the throne at age 1-13 and abdicated once they were in their twenties. (Two emperors were 21 and 22, respectively, but they did not reign for long.) If you compare that to the average age of ascension of European monarchs, the difference is striking. That Henry V of England died when his heir was but a few months old, was a huge problem at the time. A king was required to make decisions and lead his troops into battle. A child hardly fit the job description. In contrast, Japan´s emperors for centuries solely served as a source of legitimation for those who held the real power. A grown up man with a strong will and opinions of his own was not needed and sometimes even a hindrance. In fact, there are rumours that Emperor Komei (1831 – 1867) was murdered for exactly this reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muhler View Post
All it basically takes is for a member of the Imperial family to speak out to a foreign newspaper. Then what? What will, what can the "establishment" do? Put the Imperial family under house arrest? They are under house arrest.
Depends, of course. But if you ask me, I´d say the most probable scenario in such a case would be that such an event would be front-page news in the international press while the Japanese media would completely ignore it. And, honestly, I do not know what would happen to a royal who would really take a stand. Maybe this is why the emperor never admits to being aware of the political impact of his statements. But he is not a puppet. Imo, he is doing a brilliant job in getting across what he really thinks.
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"In order to make the area inhabitable again, we face the difficult problem of removing radiation." - Emperor Akihito

(Following recent incidents, I would like to refer anybody who may think the emperor´s statement obvious or redundant to this thread, post #682.)
  #715  
Old 04-28-2012, 03:50 AM
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To clarify what I have written above: when I said that it was obviously “too expensive” to recompense and relocate the farmers, I was being sarcastic. In rich countries like Japan (and my own) there is always spent a lot of money on lots of things, even in times of economic crisis. It is just a question of priorities. Besides, I think that Tepco should in the first place be obliged to pay for the damage they have caused. What we currently witness is that the whole nation is being slowly poisoned in order to spare a big company from taking responsibility for its actions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Al_bina View Post
Unlike their British counterparts, the Imperial family is not subjected to cheap tabloid musings.
In this point I disagree. Undoubtedly, the Japanese relation media - royals is different from that in GB. Still, I do not think that Japanese media are necessarily more respectful of their royals at all times. Just for example, there was this famous press campaign against the imperial family, in particular against the empress, in 1993. An article written February 1994 describes it as follows:

Quote:
In past decades to have criticized the emperor in public would have led to death. Now Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are being assailed by the press. A whole range of weekly magazines from Sunday Mainichi to Shukan Bunshun and Shukan Shincho have been accusing the Imperial Family of spite, trivia, wanton waste and self-importance. The magazines have also brought into the national arena another hitherto unknown trend in Japan; the public 'taking of sides' for or against the Imperial Family which could lead to the type of furore that surrounded the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Simpson in Britain in the 1930s or indeed the Royal Family in today's British press. […]

The Sunday Mainichi has painted the empress as the typical Japanese shutome (mother-in-law), with the reputation of being petulant, petty and recalcitrant. They have even said the emperor is henpecked by the empress and is 'nothing more than a cushion to sit on'.

The monthly publication Takarajima 30 outdid their rivals by running a feature, stated as coming from a court official, underlining the empress's purported demanding nature. They have taken a theme or two from British 'royal-bashing' in which the Princess of Wales was said to have appeared in the kitchens in the early hours of the morning demanding food. The magazine reported that the empress is said to have called for bowls of noodles and peeled apples long after midnight. The late nights were particularly emphasized by the magazine: 'The imperial couple are very fussy. They invite their friends round, they sit up chatting late at night and are too self-indulgent . . . The empress has a hysterical side, her shrill voice can often be heard around the palace and she once rebuked a chamberlain for an hour for a minor misdemeanour'.
Even if you believe these stories to be true (which I do not – to say that the emperor is "nothing more than a cushion to sit on" is simply ridiculous, imo ), it is still very disloyal of the imperial staff members to spread that gossip to the press. If they do not like their jobs, what about simply leaving? But, more important, why did the Japanese media care to publish these stories? They have proven several times that they are brilliant at the Japanese strategy of mokusatsu (to “kill with silence”, to keep quiet about an issue). As they instead chose to publish what are to me the defamatory statements of a malicious servant, they are in my opinion no better than the very worst representatives of GB´s tabloid press.
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"In order to make the area inhabitable again, we face the difficult problem of removing radiation." - Emperor Akihito

(Following recent incidents, I would like to refer anybody who may think the emperor´s statement obvious or redundant to this thread, post #682.)
  #716  
Old 04-28-2012, 07:37 AM
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Comparing the Empress to a traditional mother-in-law, that's pretty harsh!!

I presume it was an equivalent to the National Enquirer or the Sun that wrote this article? If they dare write this about the Imperial family couldn't they also be an outlet for the Imperial family? In the sense that they would print what the mainstream media won't.
However, I'm not so sure I agree with you in what would happen if the Emperor spoke to the foreign press. I realise that a lot of Japanese would go into complete denial but the cat is out, so to speak. And many Japanese also get their infor from outside, as well as live outside Japan.
In any respect it would be a huge loss of face for the "establishment". My point is, will the average Japanese listen if they suddenly realise that the Emperor is saying something controversial, albeit through the foreign media?

Personally I can't fathom why the agriculture in the affected area simply isn't changed. There are many ways of doing that. Foresting, bio-fuel, fodder for animals that are not consumed and so on.
The Japanese tradition for conforming is pretty scary, not so much for the rest of the world, but for the Japanese themselves. Do your remember the thalidomide scandals? Does it take something like that before they will react?

Your story about the abdication emperors are fascinating. That's new to me. I was aware how the various shogun's from time to time litterally held the Imperial family under house arrest, sometimes granting them very few means to live for.
I think it's fair to compare the situation back then to now, in the respect that the Shogunate has been replaced with an "establishment", but they still need the symbolic approval of the Emperor to legitimise and justify their power. Again, what if the Emperor starts to put his foot down?
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  #717  
Old 04-28-2012, 09:51 AM
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There seems to be a divide in Japanese media regarding the coverage of the IF. While the daily newspapers and TV largely avoid comment on the royals, weekly magazines and every other form of printed media never let a single issue go by without new fictions, rumors, innuendos and assorted potboilers about the imperial family. At first sight this seems to be just an answer to readers´ “needs” and wishes.

Quote:
"There are times when, to be honest, I feel sorry for the Imperial family," said Shu Hatakehori, who is in charge of Imperial coverage for the Shukan Josei, a weekly magazine with a circulation of about 700,000. "But we are responding to the needs of our readers." […] Terada believes there is a tremendous pool of respect among Japanese for the Imperial family, but there is also an appetite for stories on their struggles with the kinds of issues faced by Japanese women today — the difficulties of a demanding career, of raising a family, of critical in-laws. "People want something they can relate to," he said.
But some watchers have remarked that there is a political background to all that.

Quote:
Rarely are the men — and especially the Emperor — portrayed in as harsh a light as the women who marry them, though indirect and usually carefully couched criticisms pop up every now and then. "There is still a taboo against criticizing the Emperor himself," said Bunichi Terada, the Shukan Josei's deputy editor.
Japan Times

You know that the tenno is a very important symbol for Japan´s ultranationalists. On one hand they resent his love of peace and his (relatively speaking) liberal views, on the other hand they can hardly directly criticize Japan´s “spiritual core”. That´s why the women serve as scapegoats. It is possible (and this is no idea of mine although I agree with it) that the outbreak against the empress in the beginning of the nineties was not really aimed at her but at her husband. He was relatively new on the throne at the time but had already taken pains to make it clear that he regretted Japan´s war crimes and wanted his country to live in peace with its Asian neighbours, hereby strongly frustrating the agenda of Japan´s right wingers. Maybe the marriage of his eldest son to a “modern woman” in 1993 was the "last drop". At the time, it would not have been a good strategy to attack the young bride who was hugely popular. So, the empress was targeted. Today, with her health problems, it is of course the crown princess who serves as a scapegoat most of the time.

Quote:
Although Princess Masako is a particularly easy target, only the Emperor has managed to avoid the poorly disguised rants and desire to manipulate the Imperial Family for their own ends which seem endemic among a few Japanese.

The English Royal Family may be treated with a mixture of contempt for Prince Philip and respect for Queen Elizabeth, while the Dutch Royal Family is treated with great and genuine affection which they have gone out of their way to earn and keep, but no other royal family in the world is the object of such concerted focus by what many say may be some of the most unhealthy elements in Japanese society to control every thought, word, utterance and gesture for their own claustrophobic ends.
The fact that these critics cannot make the Japanese Imperial Family dance like puppets on a string to whatever the latest tune they want to play gets translated into unremitting, blind hatred particularly of some family members, which is why the Imperial Family lives like it is under siege. [...]

While supposedly entirely non-political and totally divorced from Japanese politics, the Royal Family are powerful political and moral symbols. Neither the Emperor nor any of his immediate family for example has ever visited Yasukuni Shrine, which is considered to this day by many Japanese and most foreigners as the focus of Japanese militarism. There are also undercurrents in Japanese society that what they stand in opposition to is shown just by their conduct.

The taboos of ultra-conservatives keep them from attacking the Emperor too directly, so instead the Crown Princess has become one of the substitute targets for them. Princess Masako is a Princess under siege.
Source

So, this is already part of the answer to the question of what happens if the emperor is acting in a way that is inconvenient to the powers that be. It is improbable that they would attack him directly. Instead, I think they would do all in their power to destroy his reputation. If that could work is very difficult to predict because it depends on a lot of details, what the allegations would be, if the majority of Japanese would believe them, what role the foreign media would play, if they would just parrot the information they get from the official Japanese media or if they would take the trouble to investigate further. One big problem is imo that there is a social taboo in Japan that forbids to address themes that could embarrass your conversation partner.
Quote:
The Japanese social convention of considering the expectations and feelings of others suppresses discussion. At a wedding, I was told not to discuss Fukushima, because it was supposed to be a happy event. On other occasions, I was told not to tell anybody that we were planning to leave Japan because of food safety issues, because everybody else would not have such a choice. The social space where such an important discussion can take place seems rather limited.
Japan Times

That means that those who would get the correct information from the foreign media that the emperor would have spoken to in our hypothetical case, might hesitate to spread their knowledge. It would also be possible that their countrymen might refuse to listen to their “embarrassing” statements. On the other hand, it is also possible that the Japanese media would report on a taboo theme after it would have been addressed by the foreign press. This has happened before.

Quote:
Only after the London Times revealed that Princess Masako was being treated for a mental breakdown did the story appear in the Japanese press. That's not to say Japanese journalists didn't know about it in the first place, explains Richard Lloyd Parry, author of the article. "When we heard this story I talked privately to a number of Japanese journalists, some of them senior, and they had all heard about it," he says. "It didn't come as a surprise to any of them. But none of them would have dreamt of printing it. They could only do that because we had."
Source

Quote:
Do your remember the thalidomide scandals? Does it take something like that before they will react?
Of course, I do remember them. Actually, they already had a similar scandal in Japan: Minamata.
Quote:
Minamata disease was first discovered in Minamata city in Kumamoto prefecture, Japan, in 1956. It was caused by the release of methylmercury in the industrial wastewater from the Chisso Corporation's chemical factory, which continued from 1932 to 1968. This highly toxic chemical bioaccumulated in shellfish and fish in Minamata Bay and the Shiranui Sea, which when eaten by the local populace resulted in mercury poisoning. While cat, dog, pig, and human deaths continued over more than 30 years, the government and company did little to prevent the pollution.
In a Japanese forum where I regularly look for pics of the IF, I have lately found pics of Minamata victims being posted. It seems that the reports about the radioactive milk remind the forum posters of the Minamata events. I am not into the details of the Minamata scandal, but Wikipedia says:

Quote:
According to Timothy S. George, the environmental protests that surrounded the disease appeared to aid in the democratization of Japan. When the first cases were reported and subsequently suppressed, the rights of the victims were not recognised, and they were given no compensation. Instead, the afflicted were ostracised from their community due to ignorance about the disease, as people were afraid that it was contagious. […] Through the evolution of public sentiments, the victims and environmental protesters were able to acquire standing and proceed more effectively in their cause. The involvement of the press also aided the process of democratization because it caused more people to become aware of the facts of Minamata disease and the pollution that caused it.

Although the environmental protests did result in Japan becoming more democratized, it did not completely rid Japan of the system that first suppressed the fishermen and victims of Minamata disease.
Besides, the person who brought world attention to the Minamata disease, W. Eugene Smith (he wrote a dramatic photographic essay about it), paid a high price for it. He was attacked and seriously injured by Chisso employees in 1972, in an attempt to stop the photographer from further revealing the issue to the world. The 54 year-old Smith survived the attack, but his sight in one eye deteriorated and his health never fully recovered before his death in 1978. (See also: Minamata: The Story of the Poisoning of a City)
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"In order to make the area inhabitable again, we face the difficult problem of removing radiation." - Emperor Akihito

(Following recent incidents, I would like to refer anybody who may think the emperor´s statement obvious or redundant to this thread, post #682.)
  #718  
Old 04-28-2012, 10:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muhler View Post
I more and more get the depressing impression that the Imperial Family are national prisoners rather than national representatives.
Even their death is not their own.

Out of curiosity, has the concept of being buried something directly to do with the Shinto religion, while the concept of being cremated has more to do with Buddism?
I have to confess that I'm far from familiar with burial rituals in East Asia.
It has nothing to do with Shinto v Buddhist, but rather a wealth and privilege thing. With space bieing in short supply few people in Japan can be buried, there simply isn't the space, so only the very rich, such as the Imperial Family could even consider being buried. ( in a mausoleum) so the common practice in Japan is for people to be cremated. Burials are very rare.

The bodies aren't totally cremated and part of the burial ritual is that family members retrieve the larger bones from the ashes and these are placed in a box and buried. ( This is the reasons why one should never use chopsticks in both hands, since this is how the bones are taken from the ashes. Japanese are horrified if they see westerners showing off their chopstick prowess by having them in both hands!)

The Emperor and the Empress rather than being prisoners of the IHA continue doing what they want and break traditions ( this whole notion of them being powerless and controlled is not at all accurate!! It's a stereotype that irritates me to no end! Especially since it tends to be based on lack of information)

The current Emperor and Empress want to be cremated since that is what happens to the majority of Japanese. The other ways they have broken from tradition is that they insisted that they would bring up their own children ( not in separate houses as in previous generations) The Empress was the first royal woman to breastfeed her children, up until then Imperial babies had wet nurses. They also insisted that the education of their children would be left to the Japanese education system ( no private tutors at the palace). They attended their daughter's wedding, no previous Emperor and Empress had done that ( they are very close to their daughter) , they didn't even attend their son's weddings.

The Emperor and Empress are not some powerless prisoners, if they feel strongly enough about something then they will do it. They have broken with assorted traditions and when Akihito became emperor in 1989 he abolished some of the more archaic positions in the royal household ( eg Emperor's food taster, up until 1989 that was someone's job at the palace!)

As for some of the other stories I don't have time to pick them apart! But there is a generalisation that the Japanese have had centuries of tradition whereby the collective is more important than the individual, which helps understand the positions often taken by Japanese people on various issues.

Some of the areas affected by the tsunami and the radiation leak are not really viable but the government at the moment is being pressured by
particularly the older people who were evacuated from their towns and villages that they want to return. Farming is already heavily subsidized in Japan, to restart these farms doesn't make sense but the evacuees are the ones who are
wanting their old lifestyles back. Japan is in a deep recession and can not afford to continue to subsidize this lifestyle, it's quite an emotive issues ( and frankly more important to Japanese people rather than issues with the Imperial Family)
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  #719  
Old 04-28-2012, 10:06 AM
Al_bina's Avatar
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Join Date: Dec 2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiaraC View Post
.... In this point I disagree. Undoubtedly, the Japanese relation media - royals is different from that in GB. Still, I do not think that Japanese media are necessarily more respectful of their royals at all times. Just for example, there was this famous press campaign against the imperial family, in particular against the empress, in 1993. ...
I truly am surprised to learn that the Japanese mass media prints scathing yellowish articles about the Imperial family.
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  #720  
Old 04-28-2012, 12:51 PM
ChiaraC's Avatar
Aristocracy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al_bina View Post
I truly am surprised to learn that the Japanese mass media prints scathing yellowish articles about the Imperial family.
Well, it undoubtedly is not a nice fact...

Here are a few more articles concerning the funeral issue.

Japan Emperor and the Empress want cut-price funerals
Quote:
Acutely aware of the nation's perilous financial situation – Japan's national debt stood at 229.77 per cent of GDP in 2011, the highest in the world – as well as the need to raise funds to pay for the reconstruction of large parts of the northeast of the country that were devastated by last year's earthquake and tsunami, the imperial couple have apparently taken it upon themselves to be less of a burden on the nation.

Royal Passage: Imperial Couple Considers Cremation

Quote:
If realized, the service would depart from 350 years of tradition. Every previous emperor and empress during that period was buried. In a way, it would be the last effort by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko to modernize the imperial household. Their reign has been marked by moves to shape the institution more into the mold of the average Japanese family.

Emperor, Empress wish to be cremated in simple funerals

Quote:
Haketa said it would be difficult to secure enough space for a tomb for the couple at the mausoleum housing the remains of Emperor Hirohito, the Emperor's father, known posthumously as Emperor Showa, and his wife and parents. The tomb is situated in Tokyo's western suburb of Hachioji. The Imperial Couple have therefore said it would be desirable for their tomb to be as simple as possible, according to Haketa. [...]

Cremation eyed for Emperor, Empress

Quote:
In ancient times, Japanese emperors and empresses were buried after death. Cremation took place for the first time in the early eighth century and became common around the middle of the Muromachi era (1336-1573). Burial replaced cremation in the middle of the 17th century and has been the norm since then.
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"In order to make the area inhabitable again, we face the difficult problem of removing radiation." - Emperor Akihito

(Following recent incidents, I would like to refer anybody who may think the emperor´s statement obvious or redundant to this thread, post #682.)
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