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  #901  
Old 04-14-2013, 01:57 PM
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This Yamaori-Sensei is nuts, why would it be better if Naruhito renounces his rights to the throne? He was born as a future Emperor and he was educated and prepared for such, even more, he is one of the most down-to-earth Crown Prince around, just like his father The Emperor. Naruhito loves his nation and wants to give his all to serve his people and the country, could they get a better Crown Prince? By all means, NO. He is a gem in The Imperial Royal Household, and just because he didn't had a son, doesn't mean he doesn't suit to be Emperor anymore.
I find this all absurd, Naruhito was born as the eldest son, so he has the TOTAL rights to be a future Emperor, that's not something that can be taken off as others please. Seriously, those people need to grow-up.
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  #902  
Old 04-14-2013, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Al_bina View Post
Thanks for the additional clarifications!
You are welcome! But I do not understand what you mean by "Professor Yamaori and vocal minority could not make Crown Prince and the IHA do the right thing." 1) The right thing according to them or according to you? 2) And what would have been "the right thing"?

Kathia Sophia, I still agree with you in that Naruhito is truly a gem , and as far as I am concerned, I would probably prefer him over most people on earth for any position that requires a high level of personal integrity. I think he is truly trustworthy – and that is more than I would say about most political leaders, not just in Japan... I am also very, very fond of Masako and think that, had she been treated a bit better, she might have made an absolutely ideal empress for 21st century Japan.

I, of course, understand that it is a problem that she is ill and does not seem to get any better. (Although I cannot help remarking that, if royals are symbols of the nation, Masako who broke down under something that could well be called "peer-group pressure" might be called by some a very good symbol of Japan...) But if I look at things from a merely practical point of view, I might be willing to look for alternatives to Naruhito and Masako, just for the sake of the argument. But the problem is, the Akishinos are, as a couple, absolutely no alternative, not just because of my personal preferences but because they are not what Japan needs at this time (but exactly the contrary, at least in some respects).

That is basically not Kiko´s fault, in my opinion. I will always commend her for the fact that, soon after Hisahito´s birth, she said at a press conference that she thought that there should be more help and support for working mothers in Japan, and that she felt very close to them, being obliged to handle her official duties and to take care of a baby at the same time. That was something that 1) went totally against the right-wing agenda and 2) needed urgently to be said by someone who people listen to. In today´s Japan, women have still to make a choice between family and career. Very, very few manage to have both – and usually pay a high price for it. As a result, the birthrate is getting lower and lower. (The point is not if I think that women should not be obliged to choose between work and children, but that Japan´s young women seem to think so – and more and more decide against children, see here, for example.)

In Japan, it is presently a more urgent task than it ever was to find a harmonious balance between tradition and modern life. The imperial family could be an important role model in this respect. Naruhito is a very modern husband. He was a hands-on father, and he has always made it quite clear that he and Masako do not play the roles of master and obedient wife but that they are a cooperating team.

I am rather certain that Kiko would be capable of doing this balancing act, too – if she had a different husband. But unfortunately, Akishino is not a modern man (and he also lacks the qualities of a traditional man). He needs his wife to play the role of sort of a submissive cheerleader, in order to boost his self-esteem and feed his vanity. (Look at this photo. You would never see Naruhito and Masako in a similar pose. Instead, there is this. )

I would willingly concede that (even if I will always personally prefer Masako), Kiko has it in her to make a good 21st century empress. But I cannot say the same of her husband. And the very worst is that his motive is sheer ambition. He wants to become emperor in order to gratify his personal vanity. It is always dangerous if a monarch is vain. But in the case of Japan, I am afraid it could end in a catastrophe...
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  #903  
Old 04-14-2013, 06:13 PM
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Im sorry but all this hate towards Akishino just seems to stem from the fact that he had the son. I have never heard that he has done anything wrong except not support his brother in calling out the IHA.
I also didn't grasp that the professor? was calling for him to abdicate because he doesn't have a son, but to leave due to the problems with his wife.
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  #904  
Old 04-14-2013, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by ChiaraC View Post
You are welcome! But I do not understand what you mean by "Professor Yamaori and vocal minority could not make Crown Prince and the IHA do the right thing." 1) The right thing according to them or according to you? 2) And what would have been "the right thing"? ... [snipped]
I have meant the divorce by "the right thing". It has been my understanding that the vocal minority was calling for the Crown Princely couple to go their separate ways for sake of the Imperial family and expected the IHA to persuade the couple to do so. Were my assumptions incorrect?
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  #905  
Old 04-16-2013, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by XeniaCasaraghi View Post
Im sorry but all this hate towards Akishino just seems to stem from the fact that he had the son.
I do not hate Akishino. (What an idea!) I think that he does not have the qualities required to be a good emperor. That is not the same thing, obviously.

Akishino is certainly an intelligent man, and can, I suppose, be very charming and entertaining when in a good mood. I am also willing to concede that it is not an easy fate to be surrounded by (and constantly being compared to) two such outstanding personalities like his father and his brother. I suppose when Akishino was little, he must have thought that Naruhito “had it all”. He was not only the crown prince and five years his senior but was also presented to him as the paragon of all virtues. It probably seemed hopeless to enter competition in this field, and the little Fumihito took to playing the role of the little cute one who amused everybody. For what should he develop a sense of responsibility? He was but “the spare”... But while I do think that Akishino´s fate shows that it is maybe a bit unhealthy for everybody concerned to focus all attention as well as the burden of royalty just on the heir (letting not only the younger brothers but also the sisters stand in his shadow on one hand, but not giving them a real task to perform, on the other), I cannot help stating that this way of growing up did have consequences. Naruhito´s and Fumihito´s kendo teacher once remarked that while the crown prince was a diligent student, his brother was incapable of absorbing the spiritual values that are at the heart of all martial arts. I would not have expressed it like this kendo teacher if left to myself - but that exactly is my problem with Akishino, in a nutshell.

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Originally Posted by XeniaCasaraghi View Post
I have never heard that he has done anything wrong except not support his brother in calling out the IHA.
If you have never heard that, you do not seem to have read, for example, this thread, this thread (#235, notably) and my post #902 here, just above yours. I do give a lot of reasons for what I think. If you choose to ignore them (which is your right), I see no point in repeating them.
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  #906  
Old 04-16-2013, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Al_bina View Post
I have meant the divorce by "the right thing". [...]
Thank you for clarifying that! I really did not know what you meant.

No, I do not suppose that your assumptions are wrong. Of course, there was never something like an article in which somebody bluntly said: "the crown prince should divorce Masako" (as it is now with the abdication idea). But there were divorce rumours some time ago, and, obviously, somebody must have leaked them (or, I would suppose: invented them because I doubt that the crown prince and princess ever even considered divorce). At least one man openly said in 2006 that Masako should either try all possible means to have a second child or else set the crown prince free by divorce (to try again for a male heir, obviously). Besides, as mentioned in the New York Times article I have quoted above:
Quote:
The right wing was angered anew [in 1993], though it could not say so publicly, by the selection of Masako Owada as the Crown Princess, and thus the next Empress. The Crown Princess does not descend from the "daimyo" families, Japan's old feudal lords, but from a family that represents Japan's new elite, educated as she was at Harvard and Oxford.
They “could not say so publicly” and, bad luck for them, they could not attack the new bride who was everybody´s darling at the time (accordingly, they harassed her poor innocent mother-in-law instead... ) But there were indeed people, right from the beginning, who did not want Masako as future empress, already at a time when she was perfectly healthy and might have become the mother of a dozen children (for all anybody knew by then). So it is not hard to imagine them rejoicing at the great opportunity of getting rid at last of the unwanted princess after more than a decade because, fortunately from their point of view, she happened to fall ill and, even more serious, to bear no son. So I think, it is safe to say that your assumptions are, in all probability, correct, also in so far as it would be the perfect solution for those who never wanted Masako anyway if Naruhito gave up his succession right, as he seems so absolutely unwilling to divorce her.

Even more so as that would also conveniently solve the problem with Aiko... Do not take me wrong, I do not think that Aiko has any realistic chance left to succeed to the throne. But that does not mean that people will not talk about this possibility or draw comparisons to Hisahito. In a Japanese forum where I use to look for photos, there are rather often pictures of Aiko, combined with pictures of Hisahito, or alternatively, pictures of Kiko with Hisahito and Masako with Aiko (Mako and Kako never appear within this context). As long as Naruhito is crown prince, people (also in Japan) will discuss whether it would not be just natural if his daughter followed him on the throne, and this will even intensify when Naruhito becomes emperor. All these inconvenient debates could be avoided if he just never ascended the throne...
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  #907  
Old 04-16-2013, 11:21 AM
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Yeah let me rephrase that. No valid reasons are available or given why Akishino is not a good person. Speculation based on pictures does not a valid reason make. I still believe that if Akishino hadn't had his son and hadn't taken the side of the Emperor and IHA against Naruhito's statements all this speculation and guesswork about him some how being bad wouldn't be so prevalent.
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  #908  
Old 04-17-2013, 07:44 AM
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1. A few of the reasons I give for my opinion about Akishino are based on interpretations of body language. Most are not, though. (See, for example, my post # 905 and the threads linked to above.)

2. It is, naturally, your right to decide which reasons personally convince you and which not. But it is not up to you to decide which reasons are valid, generally speaking. If I showed the two photos I have linked to above (1, 2) to people who have never heard anything about the imperial family, I am rather sure that would give to many of them certain ideas of what sort of relationship the couples pictured there might entertain, in particular if I assured them that I have seen a really huge quantity of photos of couple 2 but have never once seen them in a similar position as couple 1 on this very photo.

Besides, we are talking here about a country where it is still thought essential for imperial wives to walk three steps behind their husbands. (Masako got bad press when, after her engagement, she dared on one occasion to jump out of a carriage before her husband-to-be had left it.) If you claim this special instance of codified body language to be just a random tradition with no specific inherent meaning or significance whatsoever, I am afraid yours will be a minority view.
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  #909  
Old 04-17-2013, 11:16 AM
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I stand by that there isnt a valid reason for disliking Akishino in a snapshot at least not for me. If dislike for Aklishino for being a traditional Japanese male you must also have a problem with the other Imperial Japanese men or other Japanese men period seeing as how you just said that this is a tradition followed by others not just Akishino. If you dislike a person you will see what you want to see. Akishino is a traditional Japanese male, would that be acceptable outside Japan or outside the traditional Imperial Royal Family, of course not. But he is not the only man to be traditional nor is his wife the only one who has to walk a few steps behind her husband. I can't base my judgement on somebody based on one photograph; and am still waiting for valid reasons for why Akishino is oh so terrible.
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  #910  
Old 04-18-2013, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XeniaCasaraghi View Post
... am still waiting for valid reasons for why Akishino is oh so terrible.
In that case I am afraid you will have to wait until hell freezes over. Akishino is not “terrible”, and nobody ever claimed him to be (at least not me). All I say is, Akishino does not have the qualities required to be a good emperor, in my opinion. (I am not sure if you are simply incapable of understanding the difference or or if you choose to willfully misunderstand me. But it is probably not that important to know.)

You tell me that you think that I dislike Akishino because he is, allegedly, a traditional Japanese male. As it happens, I have informed you, just a few posts ago (#905), that when Akishino´s kendo teacher called him „incapable of absorbing the spiritual values that are at the heart of all martial arts“, he perfectly summed up the problem I have with Akishino. Obviously, one of the typical qualities of a traditional Japanese male would be that he would, in contrast to Akishino, be capable „of absorbing the spiritual values that are at the heart of all martial arts“, as this is a really important tradition in Japan.

I perceive that you do not read what I write anyway, not even if it was said explicitly in an answer to one of your own postings, as in this last case. I am sorry to say that but I cannot see any sense in talking to you on this issue any further.
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  #911  
Old 04-20-2013, 02:56 PM
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Once again you have not provided any proof so I assume you have none except assumptions speculations etc,
I will continue to wait and see if anything truly negative is out there about Akishino except him not having issues with the IHA.

Onto the issue of succession, I understand why they only want it through the males, but Japan should not take Hisahito for granted, he is but one son. I hope those in charge are working to either stop royal Princesses from losing their status upon marriage or perhaps even bringing back the nobility.
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  #912  
Old 04-23-2013, 03:45 PM
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In the following I am answering a question from the “Crown Princess Masako's adjustment disorder“-thread that I think would be OT there. For anybody who might want to know the context in which it was asked, please see here.

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Originally Posted by MissJanet View Post
With the pressure from all sites, the intrigues and what seems to me like blatant sexism against Masako and Aiko, knowing that his younger brother produced a successor to the throne, why would Naruhito still accept to be the heir to the throne? He and his family could have a successful, happy life everywhere on this planet, be free after all.

I understand that he was raised to become an Emperor and that obligation fulfillment is very important, but the treatment he and his loved ones have endured for so many years leads me to believe that he is not even wanted as head of the imperal family.
I do not think that Naruhito actually has this option of descending to commoner status with his family and live a private life (much less live abroad). It is true that a religious studies scholar has recently called on Naruhito to abdicate. But from what I have heard so far, he does not mean that Naruhito should give up his imperial status, but just his succession right.
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Originally Posted by ChiaraC View Post
Although he does not actually say so, Yamaori, obviously, does not mean that Naruhito should give up his imperial status. As I have said before in this forum, I do not think that anybody could seriously consider this option, for a very simple practical reason: Naruhito is, his brother excepted, the only grown up male member in the imperial family who has not yet reached retirement age, and will remain so for more than a decade. They urgently need him, for many years to come, and I am unable to perceive how they could ever afford to let him go.

Of course, it would be theoretically possible for Naruhito to just renounce his succession right without giving up his imperial status. But why on earth should he do that? It would mean that he and his family would have to bear all the burdens of royal life, but without the benefit of getting in time at least some say in how things should be run.

So, although Yamaori says that "Naruhito should take his family away from the enormous pressure it is facing" which sounds as if he was making his proposal out of compassion, I really cannot perceive that the situation for the crown prince and his family would get any better if it was realized. It would be a different matter if Naruhito, Masako and Aiko could actually get commoner status (with an imperial "dowry", obviously, because otherwise they might have difficulties to get the bare necessities of life) and live wherever they like, in whatever way they like. This might - maybe - grant them a happier way of life (although it would imho be a catastrophe for Japan). But if Naruhito should just be forced to give up his succession right and be made to stay as part of the "royal workforce", as Yamaori seems to propose, this would make things even worse for him and his family.
This being said, I will, just for the sake of the argument, assume for a moment that the crown prince might have the option to descend to commoner status with his family, and will give you an idea of why he might, nonetheless, choose to stay. (I personally do not believe that he has this option, and in any case, I, of course, have no means of knowing what he actually thinks. So the following is purely hypothetical, as far as he and his motives are concerned. But it does explain why I happen to entertain the opinion that it would be a catastrophe, maybe not for the crown prince and his family, but for the Japanese people, if he stepped down.)

First, you have to be aware that the Japanese monarchy is, as an institution, very much tainted by the war and by the atrocities that were committed in its name as well as justified by the allegedly divine authority of the tenno. Herbert Bix, the author of Pulitzer-prize-winning “Hirohito And The Making Of Modern Japan”, stated, “The monarchy is a brake on any hopes of deepening Japanese democracy and making it real. As long as it exists, democracy has quotes around it.” It would probably be open to debate if Japan´s monarchy is actually so far past reform as to be absolutely incompatible with a modern democracy. But there can hardly be any doubt that there is, in fact, a serious problem in that the theocratic Shintoist emperor system, the absolute belief in a state headed by a living god, made the Japanese capable, before and during World War II, of adopting inhuman racist views and committing horrendous atrocities on one hand, and made them willing to "die for the Emperor" in banzai charges and kamikaze flights on the other, without questioning for a moment, if their sacrifices were in any way necessary or justified. The monarchy was once a powerful instrument in the hands of 19th century militarists, who used it to glorify their policy of aggression that, finally, led to World War II. So one cannot help asking, what guarantee is there, if it should continue to exist, that it won´t be used again in the same way? And even if you should assume that, in the 21st century, such cruelties as were committed in the past are not any longer possible (which may or may not be true), what guarantee is there that this sort of supposedly divine authority would not at least be used to justify and render possible actions and measures that may not be as horrible as in the past, but still morally very questionable?

These concerns are the reason why a lot of people – not just the US occupation forces, incidentally – thought after World War II that the monarchy needed a complete makeover, if it should not be abolished altogether. At the time, the idea to model it after the British monarchy was very dominant. In the light of the many scandals that have shattered the British royals during the past decades, though, it is maybe understandable that this idea has lost somewhat of its attractiveness. Instead, the way the Japanese monarchy is being perceived internationally has been seriously impacted by its first post-war emperor: Akihito. While one could argue that the monarchy as such is still undemocratic, or is, at least, being used as sort of a banner by antidemocratic, even criminal elements (see here, for example the story about the severed finger that was sent by mail) it is clear that the present emperor is a democrat:
Quote:
[…] there is little doubt among the people who know the Emperor best about where he stands. ''He is very much a member of his generation, a very strong pacifist, a strong liberal and a believer in democracy,'' says Edwin O. Reischauer, the former United States Ambassador to Japan and a longtime acquaintance. As evidence of Akihito's pacifism, for example, an insider at the palace recalled a conversation in which someone described nuclear weapons as a ''necessary evil,'' only to be lectured curtly by the Emperor about the devastation they cause. […] If anything, Akihito's well-known distrust of ultranationalists is seen as a kind of guarantee against their ever trying to overthrow the Government in his name.
That means, as long as the holder of the throne is a staunch democrat, the monarchy´s antidemocratic past is sort of “neutralized” for the time being, and there is a potential of creating and establishing a new imperial tradition.
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Old 04-23-2013, 04:11 PM
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An example of what this may look like happened in March 2012:
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Japan in Uproar Over Censorship of Emperor's Anti-Nuclear Speech
Why did Japanese TV channels cut Emperor Akihito's address on the one-year anniversary of the Fukushima crisis?

There is a particularly sensitive accusation reverberating through online discussion boards and social media in Japan: that Emperor Akihito's speech on the one year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami was censored on TV for his comments about the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. [...]

Unlike Prime Minister Noda, who never mentioned the nuclear crisis in his speech on the anniversary, the Emperor addressed it directly.
Quote:
As this earthquake and tsunami caused the nuclear power plant accident, those living in areas designated as the danger zone lost their homes and livelihoods and had to leave the places they used to live. In order for them to live there again safely, we have to overcome the problem of radioactive contamination, which is a formidable task.
While this statement may seem more obvious than radical to outsiders, underneath the Imperial-grade Japanese understatement were two ideas that have become quietly explosive. First, he seemed to suggest that the nuclear crisis is not over, a "formidable task" yet to be overcome. This noticeably contradicts the government's official stance that Fukushima has achieved a cold shutdown and, for all practical purposes, the crisis is over. Second, it implies that it is not yet safe for people to return to areas stricken with high levels of radiation, at least not before the "formidable task" is "overcome." This, again, contradicts the government's position that it is now safe for people to return to almost all areas and that neither Tokyo Electric Power Company nor the national government are obliged to assist in long term evacuations. [...]

So many Japanese were shocked when TV media began cutting out the emperor's dramatic statement. Live daytime broadcasts of the event contained the whole speech and newspapers printed it in its entirety. But, by that evening, all of the major news programs aired edited versions of the speech without his nuclear comments, which also went unmentioned and undiscussed on the heavily watches news shows. The vast majority of Japanese, who don't watch TV news during the day, missed the comments entirely.

Blogs and chat-rooms quickly filled with angry accusations that TV networks were censoring an important communication by the Emperor to his people at a time when his guidance is most sought. [...]
"It's so disrespectful for the media to cut the most important part of His Majesty's speech, especially as he delivered it under such physical strain." [...]

By March 20, nine days after the emperor's speech, outraged Japanese held a demonstration in front of NHK, the State sponsored TV network, protesting the apparent censorship.

In fairness, news programs can't please everyone with their edits, and it would be unfair to accuse censorship at every disappointing broadcast decision. Still, it's hard to imagine why the TV networks would neither air nor even mention the emperor's obviously weighty opinion. Many skeptics in Japan suspect that the country's enormous nuclear energy industry, which is famous for its influence over Japan's politics and which has seen its business come to a near-standstill over public fears, may have played a role. After all, Tokyo Electric is one of Japanese TV's largest sources of revenue, and is tightly linked to the Japanese government, which sponsors some media here.
The Atlantic

In this case, the emperor may have been censored - but instead of being silenced by this censorship, he in turn lent his voice to people who held the same views, thereby supporting and empowering them.


It is a big problem in Japan that the average Japanese (for excellent reasons, incidentally) have come to more and more distrust their political and bureaucratic elites. Unfortunately, though, there is hardly any tradition of civil protest or grassroots movements to be found in the country´s history. That is where the emperor might come in: he does not have the power to actually change things. But he could use his authority to back up and support the people who stand up for their rights, he could be the “focal point” around which people who have had enough of being silenced and being lied to could gather, he could speak for and to them. In fact, in particular regarding the Fukushima disaster, Emperor Akihito has repeatedly done just that. It naturally is then up to the people if they choose to pick that up and use it. But the potential is there.

With the present crown prince, whenever he ascends, it is to be supposed that this potential would continue to be there, or even increase. With Akishino on the throne, though, it would not only disappear, but be replaced by the complete opposite. In order to resist ultranationalists making use of the monarchy for their own power-hungry purposes, you need to look through them and dislike them from the bottom of your heart – just like Akihito obviously does. Only in this case, you will be able to afford the high personal cost you will inevitably have to pay for opposing them. Regarding Akishino, he has never once given me the impression that he even knows why he should pay such a price, let alone be willing to actually do it. I think that Naruhito knows his brother very well, and he knows that if Akishino should ascend the throne, the monarchy would soon revert to its old tradition of being a cover-up and instrument of glorification for those who want to abuse its authority for their own selfish purposes. (I´d like to explicitly state that this is not because Akishino would be exceptionally evil, but rather because, in particular in the present situation, but a morally and intellectually outstanding personality would be able to prevent that from happening. It is just good luck of the Japanese that the present emperor as well as his heir apparent happen to be such outstanding personalities. And if the Japanese people should allow this said heir apparent to be unlawfully and unfairly bereft of his birthright – well, in that case I suppose they do not deserve any
better... )


In short: if Naruhito should actually stay because of his own free will (which we do not know), it is (not surprisingly) not because he would wish to please those who do not want him as head of the imperal family and who keep harassing his loved ones (in fact, they are seriously displeased by the fact that he so staunchly stands his ground... ) Rather, the crown prince stays to serve the ordinary Japanese citizens. It is true that many of them (or maybe even the majority) are probably not even aware of that. This admittedly is a big problem, maybe the worst of all. But in case the crown prince should view the political situation in Japan as I, for one, happen to view it, he may think that in order to prevent a catastrophe, you have to desperately fight until the very last moment - no matter how small your hope to succeed may ever be...


For more on this subject please see this thread, #682-689, and this thread, #778-787, as well this blog of mine that deals with the paradox of undemocratic institution/monarchy – democratic monarch.
Please see also # 893-895 of this very thread.

NB: If anything should not be quite clear, please feel always free to ask.
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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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  #914  
Old 04-23-2013, 09:22 PM
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This is SO interesting. Thank you for all this information on the history and sociology of Japan.
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Old 04-24-2013, 05:40 PM
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Thank you for saying that! I am aware that the whole situation I have tried to describe here is really complex, and I admittedly do not find it easy to summarize it in what seemed to me relatively few paragraphs. On the other hand, I also know that for a forum, it would be more to the point to say that I needed rather relatively many paragraphs to express my view of the issue (and they´re full of boring political stuff, to boot... )

So it is really good to hear that I have succeeded in expressing it in a way that you found interesting. Thank you!
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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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  #916  
Old 07-24-2013, 01:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiaraC View Post
I do not hate Akishino. (What an idea!) I think that he does not have the qualities required to be a good emperor. That is not the same thing, obviously.

Akishino is certainly an intelligent man, and can, I suppose, be very charming and entertaining when in a good mood. I am also willing to concede that it is not an easy fate to be surrounded by (and constantly being compared to) two such outstanding personalities like his father and his brother. I suppose when Akishino was little, he must have thought that Naruhito “had it all”. He was not only the crown prince and five years his senior but was also presented to him as the paragon of all virtues. It probably seemed hopeless to enter competition in this field, and the little Fumihito took to playing the role of the little cute one who amused everybody. For what should he develop a sense of responsibility? He was but “the spare”... But while I do think that Akishino´s fate shows that it is maybe a bit unhealthy for everybody concerned to focus all attention as well as the burden of royalty just on the heir (letting not only the younger brothers but also the sisters stand in his shadow on one hand, but not giving them a real task to perform, on the other), I cannot help stating that this way of growing up did have consequences. Naruhito´s and Fumihito´s kendo teacher once remarked that while the crown prince was a diligent student, his brother was incapable of absorbing the spiritual values that are at the heart of all martial arts. I would not have expressed it like this kendo teacher if left to myself - but that exactly is my problem with Akishino, in a nutshell.



If you have never heard that, you do not seem to have read, for example, this thread, this thread (#235, notably) and my post #902 here, just above yours. I do give a lot of reasons for what I think. If you choose to ignore them (which is your right), I see no point in repeating them.
You realize that rarely is the "spare" allowed to outshine the "heir". So of course the teacher is going to put down Akishino in favor of his older brother. It happens all the time.

In monarchies all over. For example the British press is much quieter about William's misdeeds than Harry's. Princess Margaret was named the "bad girl" and Princess Elizabeth (now the Queen) the good one.

Thus, what was said about Akishino needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

I think I have been hard on Narihito if I'm honest. However, I'm going to say this. I agree that many seem to be hard on the Akishino's just because they have the male child. I don't think its fair.

Look, I will never support a divorce for anyone and Masako seems like a very bright woman. But Akishino actually DID make the better choice when it comes to marriage. He choose someone who wanted the rule, not someone whose family had to be practically force her into being it.

I think Princess Kiko especially gets put down in favor of Masako and I don't think its fair. Princess Kiko has a master's degree if I understand. She may not be as book smart as Masako but she's an intelligent woman. And she's someone who performs her public duties. With the Empress's health waning and Masako's being "part time" probably a bulk of the work falls on her shoulders.

We don't know any of these people to say who is more "brilliant" who is the better person etc. Both seem like nice enough men. The one thing I can say about Akishino and Kiko is I like their ideas of former example putting Hisahito in a normal school, and not having him called titles etc. It seems very wise.
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  #917  
Old 08-03-2013, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by bekalc View Post
You realize that rarely is the "spare" allowed to outshine the "heir". So of course the teacher is going to put down Akishino in favor of his older brother. It happens all the time.
If the teacher just wanted to make Naruhito look better, he could have said that although Akishino was doing his best and, on the whole, doing well, he still was unable to do it as well as his elder brother or something of the sort. That would have been quite sufficient. He need not have said that Akishino was „incapable of absorbing the spiritual values that are at the heart of all martial arts“ which sounds pretty harsh, in particular for Japanese standards.

Besides, I have quoted the teacher´s statement as "pars pro toto", so to speak, not because I thought it sufficient evidence for my opinion on Akishino (of course not, after all he was very young at the time!), but just to sum it up. Imo, there is simply a considerable quantity of tiny pieces of evidence, all pointing to Akishino being a rather egocentric, frivolous character. It´s the totality of them that convinces me, not this single instance or that (which, of course, does not mean that it has to convince you, too - after all, none of us has ever met him personally, so it can never be more than a - maybe informed - guess).

Quote:
Originally Posted by bekalc View Post
Look, I will never support a divorce for anyone and Masako seems like a very bright woman. But Akishino actually DID make the better choice when it comes to marriage. He choose someone who wanted the rule, not someone whose family had to be practically force her into being it.
It is always easy to be wise after the event. Actually, Masako´s not having a boy might well have made all the difference between success and failure - and that was something nobody could have guessed in advance. It´s true that there were people whom she could never have pleased, even if she had produced a dozen sons. But there were others (among them her parents-in-law, I suspect) who would have been willing to grant Masako a lot more freedom and allow her to carve out a significant role for herself if she had "done her duty" and produced a male heir first. Masako was hugely popular in the nineties and might well have fulfilled the expectations of the people who wanted her to become a "connecting link" between the imperial house and the common people, if there had been but a few small changes in her story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bekalc View Post
I think Princess Kiko especially gets put down in favor of Masako and I don't think its fair. Princess Kiko has a master's degree if I understand. She may not be as book smart as Masako but she's an intelligent woman. And she's someone who performs her public duties. With the Empress's health waning and Masako's being "part time" probably a bulk of the work falls on her shoulders.
I do not share your impression. Princess Kiko has been having very good press in recent years, and if we have to decide who of the two women is getting put down in favour of the other, I think that Masako has pretty much been the loser lately.

This being said, I think that this way of setting these two women up against each other and make the loss of one the win of the other is not helping at all as it serves to draw people´s attention away from the real problem.

Look, when it was said that Kate would pass the first time after the birth of her baby at her parents´ home, I thought what a natural wish this was for a young woman, to rely on the loving support of her family during a time when she knows she might most need it, and that it was a good decision not only for her, but probably also for her baby and for her husband because it would probably considerably reduce the inevitable stress of that first time together as a young family. But I could not help thinking either that such a measure would be unthinkable for a Japanese princess. True, Masako was allowed to pass some time at her parents´ home when she was what seems to have been on the verge of dying. It did her good, but, even so, it was never repeated - although there is the possibility that it might finally have fully cured her and given the nation a healthy crown princess. We cannot know that for sure, of course. But what I find incomprehensible (and very telling...) is that it was not tried but that, obviously, a crown princess who is unfit to do her duties is, in Japan, clearly the lesser of two evils, compared to a crown princess who spends some weeks with her parents to get her sanity back.

Imo, the issue is not with Masako (or Kiko or whoever) but that these life conditions are simply inhuman and cruel in a modern world. It is next to impossible, imo, to live under these conditions and still function as we are nowadays used to expect a mature, emotionally healthy individual to function. But instead of concentrating on how to change these outdated living conditions, people concentrate on who is morally "better", Masako or Kiko. I´d say, setting all differences between the two aside, they are both amazing individuals who cope surprisingly well under extremely difficult conditions. Both deserve to be appreciated for their efforts, and both deserve to have their lives made easier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bekalc View Post
We don't know any of these people to say who is more "brilliant" who is the better person etc. Both seem like nice enough men. The one thing I can say about Akishino and Kiko is I like their ideas of former example putting Hisahito in a normal school, and not having him called titles etc. It seems very wise.
I agree about the school, and I suppose that the crown prince and princess longed to do the same with Aiko but felt that they were already too much of outsiders to afford another break of the rule. Besides, I suspect that the fact that Hisahito as well as Mako were sent to another educational institution when they were expected to attend Gakushuin was, to some degree, due to the bullying incident with Aiko. Those decisions were made shortly before Aiko´s school troubles became public, and I suspect that the imperial family already knew that there was a problem and that it was maybe even the emperor himself who thought that Gakushuin should not be so sure that all imperial children would always be sent to attend Gakushuin, no matter how they were being treated there.

But whoever made this decision and for whatever reason, I agree in that it was wise (even though, incidentally, this does not mean that Hisahito may not end up attending Gakushuin at some point in the future. Ochanomizu high school is girls-only, that means he will have to find another school at that point - it could quite possibly be Gakushuin 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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  #918  
Old 11-02-2013, 12:10 PM
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Emperor a symbol in changing times
Natsuki Komatsu, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Publication Date : 04-09-2013
Quote:
[...] As circumstances stand today, however, the Imperial family is at risk of dying out. The family has 22 members, six of whom are eligible to ascend to the Imperial throne. Three of the six are direct descendents of the Emperor: his two sons and his grandson. [...]

The Emperor’s position as a symbol of the unity of the people is expressed through his active and continual dedication to the people as well as his constant prayers for their well-being and peace. [...]

The agency’s latest decision about the Imperial couple’s funeral procedures, as well as the announcement of the decision, were based on their wishes. This indicates the Imperial couple’s clear determination to honour the traditions of the Imperial family, but also change what they believe should be reformed within the limits of their abilities. [...]

On March 16, 2011, five days after the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Emperor issued an emergency video message to victims of the calamity and other members of the public through NHK. The message reflected the Emperor’s belief that issuing such a message is one of the duties he must fulfill as the symbol of the state. [...]

The Emperor wears various hats—one as the head of the 1,300-year-old Imperial family, another as the chief administrator of Imperial rituals, a third as a gentle yet strict father, and others as a devoted husband and a scientist. However, the Emperor’s basic thinking and behaviour are based on his desire to adhere to the Constitution. He is confident of his duty to proceed hand in hand with the Empress in serving the country and the people, and act in accordance with that principle.

In June 2012, Shingo Haketa, former grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency, spoke about the Emperor’s feelings regarding his position. “The Emperor is actively devoted [to fulfilling his duty], in the firm belief that his status as the symbol of the state is inseparable from his activities based on that position and that conducting activities is indispensable for his status as the symbol of the state.”

Haketa’s remark rings true to this writer, who has had sufficient opportunity to closely observe the Emperor’s activities. [...]

One aspect of the Emperor’s duty to serve the country is his promotion of international goodwill. [...] The Empress frequently states that friendly ties between two nations start from person-to-person relationships. The Imperial couple’s cordial hospitality has done much to increase the number of foreign enthusiasts of Japan, thus serving as what may be called a guarantee of security for our country. [...]

Given the current membership of the Imperial family and the Imperial House Law, the Imperial family is at great risk of ceasing to exist one day. The Emperor and other members of the Imperial family have a strong sense of crisis on this point. [...]

The crisis regarding the Imperial throne is clear just by looking at the current Imperial family tree. The Emperor’s sons, Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Akishino, are two of six heirs to the throne. Prince Hisahito, the son of Prince Akishino, is the only heir among the Emperor’s grandchildren. There are currently eight princesses who were born into the Imperial family, but they are not entitled to succeed to the throne and will become ordinary citizens upon getting married.

The notion of a “symbolic emperor based on his activities,” which is the philosophy of the Emperor, and the idea in the Constitution of the Emperor as “deriving his position from the will of the people with whom sovereign power resides” are inextricably linked. Other Imperial household members are engaged in various official duties in support of the Emperor and Empress. However, these supporting members may dwindle away or disappear in the era belonging to the generation of the Emperor’s grandchildren. [...]

The Imperial House Law defines the rules for the Imperial family and is at the same time state law. The Emperor and other Imperial family members thus cannot openly say that they want the current system to be changed, even if they face a crisis in which the very existence of the family is in danger.

Suffice it to say, the Emperor is deeply concerned about the crisis of the Imperial family. [...]

Recent years have seen two proposals to revise the Imperial House Law. One urged the acceptance of empresses regnant and matrilineal emperors to maintain the Imperial family. [...] As it turned out, Princess Akishino became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy later named Prince Hisahito. This secured the line of succession through the Emperor’s grandchild, thereby putting discussions on revision of the Imperial House Law on the back burner.

But if no son is born to Prince Hisahito in the future, the patralineal Imperial line will come to an end. [...] In October 2012, the government presented a report containing a list of issues raised by the panel of experts set up in 2004 and some related proposals, including possible amendment of the Imperial House Law that would allow princesses to retain Imperial status after marriage. [...]

But discussions of these issues were dropped after the inauguration of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who opposes the idea of an empress regnant or a matrilineal emperor.

Another proposal was to grant Imperial status to the male descendants of 11 royal family members who gave up their status 66 years ago in 1947. But because they were all born commoners and their wishes regarding Imperial status are unknown, it would be hard to obtain public understanding of this proposal. [...]

The current Imperial House Law was enacted hastily and can be revised with majority votes in both houses of the Diet. If revisions to the law to stabilise the succession of the Imperial family are postponed further, I think it would be tantamount to permanently closing the only way left for the Japanese people to decide the future of the Imperial family by themselves.

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(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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Old 11-02-2013, 12:14 PM
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Those who are interested in Japan´s succession issues may find it fascinating to take a look at how this subject has been addressed earlier. Here is an article that was published as early as 1999, before Princess Masako´s first pregnancy:

AN HEIR OF CHANGE IN JAPAN
Quote:
When Owada Masako married Crown Prince Naruhito in 1993, the Japanese thought it was the best thing to happen to the imperial family in years. The public was thrilled by their story: A formidably educated, modern woman gives up her diplomatic career to marry her prince and, it was thought, to bring a fresh breeze into a stuffy imperial household. And a determined emperor-to-be who ignores all potential brides to win her hand in marriage.

As the couple celebrate their sixth anniversary this month, much about the storybook romance remains true. They seem to be genuinely devoted. The pair go on mountain hikes, take snapshots of each other on formal tours and play music together. Not a whiff of scandal has ever touched their marriage. Only one thing clouds this happy picture. They remain childless. [...]

Almost as soon as they returned from their honeymoon, royal watchers began looking for signs that Masako was bearing an heir (of course, the possibility remains that even if she became pregnant, her child might be a girl too). Speculation rose every time she canceled a public event because of a fever or a cold. Countless newspaper articles reminded readers that Empress Michiko had used similar excuses when she conceived. But these hopes are regularly dashed when Masako reappears in public obviously still not pregnant. [...]

More recent conjecture has centered on the likely prospects of the royal couple seeking professional help. The clue: a visit Masako made to a hospital in Fukushima, northern Honshu, as part of a blood-donation campaign. Immediately, pundits noted that a prominent infertility specialist was based at the facility. [...]

Most of the postulation revolves around Masako, of course. If Japanese are reluctant to publicly discuss such personal details concerning the princess, they are even more loath to speculate that the difficulties might lie with the prince. Several married members of the imperial family are childless, including Emperor Akihito's brother, his uncle and a cousin. Moreover, an increasing number of Japanese men are producing insufficient or defective sperm. [...]

But if nature or science cannot come to the rescue, what other courses are open to prevent the imperial line from dying out? [...] The obvious solution would be to change the Imperial House Law so that a female could accede to the throne. This would place the two small daughters of Prince Akishino, Mako, 7, and Kako, 4, in the line of succession. Increasingly, the Japanese public is getting used to the idea of a woman as a symbolic head-of-state.

While the Imperial Household Agency is studiously silent on this issue, officials are said to be intently studying cases and laws governing European dynasties. At least one team has been dispatched to make discreet inquiries. All European monarchies permit female succession, though Britain, Spain and Denmark give preference to males.

Masako is often held up as a model for Japanese women, who are increasingly pursuing professional careers, marrying late, if at all, and postponing childbirth. A pacesetter in many ways, the princess may yet turn out to be a role model in a way that nobody had ever anticipated.
And here is another article, published Friday, 17 February, 2006, shortly after Princess Kiko´s third pregnancy had been announced:

Japan's pregnant pause
Quote:
Just when it seemed that Japan was on the verge of a historic reform that would finally make its revered imperial family a more gender-equal institution, the plans have been shelved by an unexpected pregnancy. The fate of legislation that would have allowed an empress to reign now depends on the sex of Princess Kiko's unborn child. The situation has strengthened the position of chauvinists and exposed deep-seated anti-female bias. [...]

Opinion polls show over 70 per cent of the public in favour of allowing Princess Aiko to succeed her father, with just 8 per cent opposed. Last November, an advisory panel produced a report recommending that female emperors and their descendants be allowed to ascend the throne, and the emperor's eldest child, regardless of sex, should be given 'priority as the imperial heir'. Supporters argued that such reforms would demonstrate a powerful symbolic commitment to building a gender-balanced society. Conservatives fiercely denounced the findings, saying the revisions would destroy more than 1,000 years of tradition and risk contaminating the imperial house with foreign blood. Some even suggested reintroducing the practice of concubines to breed a male heir. [...]

Despite the onslaught, Mr Koizumi stood firm, repeating his determination to pass the legislation. However, the unexpected February 7 announcement that 39-year-old Princess Kiko, the wife of the emperor's second son, Prince Akishino, was six weeks' pregnant, effectively derailed the plans. [...]

Still, the battle is not yet lost. If the baby is a girl, which many hope, then the whole debate will be back to square one. However, the traditionalists have demonstrated that they are a formidable force and even with public support and a powerful prime minister, the fight for gender equality will be an uphill struggle.
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