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  #61  
Old 03-22-2008, 04:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by COUNTESS View Post
She might not have been certain. And, its her body, and she should have the right to announce her pregnancy, when she wished.
This must be an answer to my original question. Princess Masako wanted
to say "It's my body, and I should have the right to announce my pregnacy,
when I wished." This explains a lot of things I couldn't understand.
Thank you, COUNTESS.
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  #62  
Old 03-22-2008, 11:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlotte1 View Post
You are assuming here that the doctors knew she was pregnant. Also although it's a view that people seem to cling to that the Japanese royals are tightly controlled they do actually have a private life with private freedoms. If it's a private visit to a restaurant in Japan or elsewhere they just go, there's no 'getting approval'. ( The only issue would be security so their security people would need to be informed to check the places out)
I'm assuming that since ekat8 has Kobe Japan as the place where they're from they would have access to Japanese language materials and therefore information which on one hand is more critical of Masako ( which the Japanese media is) but also less "poor prisoner Masako stories" which the western media like to perpetuate. Aside from the criticism it's good to get the extra information that Japanese have rather than the one sided western 'poor victim' view.
First and foremost, I believe that I have got a legitimate right to make my assumptions. In light of the tone of ekat8's messages, I assumed that the person in question might substantiate her/his statements. As a daughter-in-law living with an out-and-out old school Japanese grandmother and watching NHK, I tend to get extra information as well.
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  #63  
Old 03-22-2008, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Al_bina View Post
First and foremost, I believe that I have got a legitimate right to make my assumptions. In light of the tone of ekat8's messages, I assumed that the person in question might substantiate her/his statements. As a daughter-in-law living with an out-and-out old school Japanese grandmother and watching NHK, I tend to get extra information as well.
Yes you can make assumptions but the word assumptions itself implies that the holder of those assumptions actually has no facts. If one had facts then one would present one's arguement with those facts and not assumptions.

NHK is the government run Japanese TV network, there are many other free to air Japanese commercial channels as well as cable. NHK focuses on serious issues and not the lighter subjects where one would get discussion of royal lifestyles. There is no comparison to someone living outside of Japan ( I can get NHK as well) only receiving one government channel compared to a Japanese person in Japan who receives a multitude of channels as well as having access to many Japanese newspapers ( many tabloid) and a large amount of women's magazines, some serious others trashy.

I don't claim that I have extra information since I have access to NHK in Australia, I rely on Japanese friends living in Japan.
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  #64  
Old 03-22-2008, 09:13 PM
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Fairly speaking, I do not think that an average Japanese citizen is privy to what really goes on behind the walls of the Imperial Palace. Information to the yellow press might be "fed" by certain parties in the IHA. This usually means biased opinions/gossips to shift the public opinion in one direction or other, thereby making it impossible for us to form somewhat objective view on the situation. So our viewpoints on the situation are doomed to rest upon tabloid gossips, articles in the mass media, extremely subjective opinions of the Japanese members, and books.
Bits of extra information I tend to get do not portray Crown Princess Masako as a poor girl locked in the golden cage. The grandmother has told on multiple occasions that Crown Princess Masako has failed to perform her major duty to secure the bloodline, and I should not sympathise with her.
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  #65  
Old 03-22-2008, 09:29 PM
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What it all boils down to is that, only Masako and Naruhito know how often they tried for a child. Anyone else is strictly speculating on the frequency of efforts or lack thereof. Nobody else but the Crown Princely couple can comment on this matter with any authority.
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  #66  
Old 03-25-2008, 07:59 AM
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Post Committed to the world´s peace and happiness

Well, you go, gi..s! (Well, DO not you think it a BIT silly that I am even censured when I write g..ls? And, on the other hand, I AM able to write "boys" - is this a sort of secret antifeminism?) I am glad to see the discussion, and as I already mentioned in "A god becomes human": when talking about this issue it seems to be next to impossible NOT to get into occupying very polarized positions. Of course, we never have all the information, and I cannot say anything concerning this restaurant visit as it is not mentioned in the book. (The only thing I would like to add is that it would be the understatement of the year to say that it was just a sort of willfulness on the part of Masako to not publish the pregnancy – not only she but also the crown prince and the executives on duty were fully aware what a medial uproar would be caused by these news – and when the story did come out they turned out to have been even more correct in their fears than they could have wished...) But, in my opinion, if there is one thing that the story of the imperial conflict teaches it is that it is better to try and continue talking, expressing your own opinion and nevertheless still trying to understand the other. Then there is, at least, still a chance for peace. Now, let´s go on with the next part:

As I said, it is a bit tricky to describe the crown prince´s view of the things, and that is because he neither has the opportunity to publicly explain it in detail nor to act upon it. So, crown prince and crown princess have even been accused of constantly complaining without ever positively declaring what they want. But this is not true. Although they can – for obvious reasons – not publish their plans they have, as a friend of Masako has told Fritz and Kobayashi, already explained their visions, not in every detail, but clearly, to the executives on duty. Several times Masako and Naruhito tried to initiate certain activities, informed the executives of their general ideas and asked for suggestions how they could be put into practice, and again and again, they were rejected or ignored. (Fritz and Kobayashi do not leave a doubt that although "technically" speaking, they were blocked by executives of the IHA this could never have been done without the consent or even the special request of the emperor and empress.)

And although Naruhito and Masako never got an opportunity to publicly explain their vision it is, according to Fritz and Kobayashi, not so difficult to guess the general tendency of their ideas: It is known that the crown prince was very much impressed by the British monarchy. And there is a striking difference between the activities of the English and the Japanese royals: although they both attend certain public events the Japanese royals are more or less "just decoration" while the English royals purposefully support those events and activities that in their opinion are especially useful and helpful for their people. The most remarkable difference is that the English royals commit themselves to a broad variety of charity institutions and to activities of social impact whereas the Japanese royals usually keep away from social or charitable issues. The Japanese empress is president of the Red Cross, but that´s it for the Japanese royals whereas the English queen serves as a lady patron for more than 650 charity organizations. Prince Charles is very interested in ecological farming, modern architecture, protection of the environment, education and health care and supports related activities wherever it is in his power. Of course, the British royals do not do "hard" politics – they are no more allowed to do that than the Japanese - but they actively and purposefully choose and support those initiatives and activities that in their opinion are the most important for the welfare of their people and the world.

And we know that Masako´s interest takes the same direction. Already in 1997, she said in a press conference: "I want to help people in difficult social circumstances to get hope for the future and to gather fresh life force. Especially, I want to take care of children who are living under unfavorable conditions." Fritz and Kobayashi quote a friend of Masako´s who says: "She always loved children. Even when she herself was still childless she was always committed to the children around her. She has a heart for children. This wish from her lips sounds absolutely natural. That is one of the things by which she wants to make herself useful."

We can draw conclusions concerning their values and their vision also from the way of how they raise their own child. Naruhito said to journalists: "I as a father want to take part in the nursing of the child. In this way I can develop a feeling of unity not only with my child but also with my wife. In education, the part of the father is very important, too." He takes her bath with Aiko, feeds her, reads to her and goes for a walk with his two ladies. So, closeness, warmth and love in the family are obviously high priorities. Naruhito and Masako think that by raising children who feel loved and appreciated we can promote the happiness of all humanity. But it is also very important for Masako and Naruhito that Aiko who because of her birth lives separately from normal people´s life should still get to know the world outside, and as many aspects of it, as possible.

That is probably why her parents – as one among other measures - took her out to a park close by the palace to have her "koen-debut", her "park-debut" like any Japanese child. The "koen-debut" is a sort of ritual for little Japanese children (and their mothers), their first visit to a public playground. Nice conversation (for the mothers – with the other mothers who already "belong" to this place) and pretty clothing (for mother and child) are required. And the park that crown prince and crown princess chose for this purpose was by no means "imperial", but rather ordinary – its only advantage being its closeness to the palace. The playground is noisy as it is situated between two big roads, and the air is, accordingly, polluted. And Masako - just like any Japanese mother on her "koen-debut" - chatted nicely with the other mothers who happened to be present. The second time Naruhito went with them, too, and all three behaved as if they were not the future emperor and empress of Japan with Her Imperial Highness the princess but just the friendly family next door.

If you compare that to Akihito and Michiko comforting the survivors of the earth % 0– for which they were already critized as not having kept sufficient distance when they went down on their knees to talk to the people – you really see a big, big difference. Naruhito and Masako do not want to be close to their people only in exceptional situations of emergency but in everyday life.

I quote: "The prince dreams of a monarchy like in England that is not only a passive symbol, that is not only close to society and shares their suffering and joys and prays for the people. He wants to take responsibility, be active, take an influence on society.

The prince early showed this tendency. Already after he had finished his studies in England he said: "In the future we will need an imperial family who goes to the people. Concerning this, it is important that the members of the imperial family come into contact with a variety of persons on various scenes." Isamu Kamata, the musical friend of Naruhito, expresses it more precisely: "The prince does not want to be only symbolical. He cannot be satisfied with going somewhere and waving to the people like on New year´s day on the palace balcony. He prefers to sweat for the people and to work hard and really do something for them. That´s how he sees the new role of the tenno in his thoughts."

By his choosing Masako, Naruhito gave another sign that could not be overlooked. And immediately and with much zeal his wife took up the new role that the prince had imagined for her. Naruhito once said that she was a "very serious, patient and hardworking person". This is also the impression that visitors of the togu-palace receive. In Masako´s study there are always heaps of paper from which she gets information concerning certain themes. "When I attend an event I want to understand the historical and future aspects, and if possible, the meaning of the subject", Masako once declared. Even Naruhito had to admit that he had learnt a lot for the accomplishment of his own duties by his wife´s careful preparations. In this way, a part of his dream became true for the prince: He could learn and grow together with his wife.

After a time, a vision unfolded that Masako and Naruhito shared: "As we want to further peace for the world we both want to commit ourselves to the understanding between the nations and to environment issues. And as we wish happiness for all humanity we also want to help to build a society in which children can grow up in psychical and physical health.""

To be continued
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  #67  
Old 03-25-2008, 12:55 PM
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I am looking forward for this reading. Thanks ChiaraC for your translation. I don't know about the rest of the world but for me these informations are very interesting and useful. It help me to understand Masako and Naruhito situation that they are in. The crown prince and crown princess have a wonderful vision for their people and it is very sadness that their visions and commitment cannot put in used. Going forward with the new that is not mean forgetting the tradition. Why is it that the IHA afraid of?
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  #68  
Old 03-26-2008, 08:43 AM
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Thanks, Kimlan, Abbie, mermaid and all the others who read but do not talk... for all your support. Please know that I appreciate your attention very much!

I want to add something to the Belgium travel/restaurant issue:

I think that the problem is here that the outcome of things is not what everybody wanted (the crown prince having an heir), and because of that now each side has a tendency to blame the other for not having been perfect and absolutely faultless. But: this is, in my eyes, asking much too much. Humans are not perfect. Never. Period.


So, I do think it most unfortunate indeed that this trip to Belgium was taken, and I dare say that if they had had time to think they might have taken a different decision. Not that this, at least in my opinion, would have changed the outcome in any way. I do believe that the doctor who said afterwards that the miscarriage had had nothing to do with the trip to Belgium was quite correct. (Although this trip, restaurant or no restaurant, HAD been stressful: Fritz and Kobayashi report that when the couple´s plane landed in Brussels there were high winds and rain, the wedding took place on the next day in a very cold church and the day after Naruhito and Masako were invited into the mountain residence of the Belgian king and queen – and Masako had, of course, to look her best and walk on high heels all the time.) If they had stayed at home Masako would, in all probability, have suffered a miscarriage anyway, but they would have at least been sure that they had done all in their power and that it had really been no fault of theirs.


But, on the other hand, emperor and empress also did something that probably would not have changed the outcome on the whole but, in my opinion, still is most unfortunate. A medical authority had been sent to Masako two days before her wedding who told her that in order to get pregnant quickly she should take care to not exhaust herself and take care to stay relaxed. Now, I quite agree with Fritz and Kobayashi who state that for a young, active woman who wants to use her energies it can be highly stressful to be forced to sit at home all day and do nothing as it happened to Masako. So, by blocking her activities emperor and empress certainly did not further a pregnancy either, to say the least.


My point here is that, as long as we are talking of humans we can always find something that they have done wrong – but that never gives us a justification to blame them for something that is, after all, out of the reach of human power – for example the birth of a child. Science has gone far with artificial insemination etc. but even modern science does not have absolute control on this issue, and will hopefully never have. It is too heavy a burden for humans. The responsibility for these matters should, in my opinion, rest were it has always been, in the hands of God or nature or whatever your preferred expression may be.
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  #69  
Old 03-28-2008, 06:55 AM
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Post Jealousy

Although in the 21th century no member of the Japanese imperial family any longer needs to be afraid of being killed by a putsch, the emperor´s worries of the tenno-system in Japan coming to its end - that in his youth had taught him the art of typewriting - are still not fully without reason: in 2003, 35% of the Japanese said that they are not interested in the monarchy any more, among the young Japanese (between 20 and 40) it were even more than 50% who said that. So, the question in which way the imperial family is still needed to serve their people holds much vital interest for the emperor as well as for his heir. The only problem is that their answers to that question are so different.

But, at least, there is one simple thing that, according to experience, is very favorable to the popularity of the monarchy in Japan and that the emperor as well as his son have made use of: marrying. Both of them took a wife who, at the time, was “the fashion”, so to speak, and who inspired the people to have hope of a better future.

I have already mentioned the critique that the conservative parts expressed concerning Michiko and her descending from a commoner`s family. But, on the other hand, among the common people a real “boom” was created by Akihito´s engagement to Michiko. They dreamt of a wind of change that would blow through the ancient imperial institutions and of an “open monarchy” becoming reality. Many bought their first radio or TV set on occasion of the imperial marriage, in order to witness the wedding ceremony of the “modern” couple. The Japanese economy lived through good times because the people were so full of joy that they forgot to be economical and to save for their old age but just spent what they had. New “yellow press” magazines were edited – two of them, Shukan Josei and Josei Jishin still exist to this day - in order to satisfy the curiosity of the enthusiastic Japanese women concerning every detail of Michiko´s life. The critic Oya called the time between engagement and wedding “the biggest demonstration of the tenno-family after the war”.

Naruhito´s marriage had had a similar effect. Sure, Masako had been criticized by conservatives for having talked 28 seconds longer than Naruhito on the press conference on occasion of their engagement and for having used so immodest sentences as: “I basically agree with the prince. But if I might be allowed to add something in my own words…” A former teacher of the prince, Minoru Hamao, commented: “If the prince speaks three sentences Masako is allowed only one.” But, nevertheless, Masako was from the beginning very popular with a lot of people. The newspaper “Asahi” expressed the hope that this would be “the beginning of a new era as Masako Owada is a first rate business woman.” Another newspaper wrote: “There are only few people left who still want the imperial family to hide behind their chrysanthemum curtain.” A professor from the catholic Sophia-university, Kuniko Inoguchi, optimistically prognosticated that Masako would, of course, adapt to the imperial family but that she would also make use of her abilities in order to reach her long-term purpose. (Fritz and Kobayashi comment that here again we see the contradictory expectations that are entertained by different groups of Japanese towards the members of the imperial family. And it is these expectations that make sure that in the long run one of the groups – or even both – will be disappointed and will loudly complain. The crown princess was demanded to be “international”, “commoner-like”, “intelligent”, “noble and immaculate”, she should hold up tradition and symbolize the “mother of Japan” – all at the same time…)

However, all things summed up, the tenno-family was never more popular with their people than when the crown prince of the time married. And what may take us by surprise: in the nineties this was even more so than in the fifties. Shortly before Naruhito´s wedding, 67% of Japanese declared that they felt “connected in spirit” with the imperial family – when Akihito married Michiko it had been only 60% who said that. And after Akihito´s enthronement it had still been less: at that time, only 54% were supporting the monarchy, among young women in their twenties and thirties even less than 50%. (And it was this group that was strongly influenced by Masako`s joining the imperial family: the percentage then rose to 69%.) And even much later, the crown prince and his wife were obviously still very popular: in only two days
120 000 persons came to the imperial palace to put their names into the books of congratulation after Aiko´s birth. (To give you an idea how much that is: every year 13 000 Japanese come to the palace to express their good wishes on occasion of the tenno´s birthday.)

And this is, according to Fritz and Kobayashi, the last part of the puzzle that explains the conflict in the imperial family: although it had been clear right from the beginning that Masako was very far from being perfect (from the point of view of “traditional woman in the imperial family”) she had been very, very popular – too popular in the eyes of emperor and empress who felt something very similar to jealousy…

Sure, the results of Akihito´s shinto enthronement ceremony “daijosai” had been glorious. And his first actions after coming to the throne had shown his decision to become a modern emperor with a profile of his own: he had began, together with his wife, to visit all 47 prefectures of Japan. And he had traveled to the countries that had been bitter enemies of Japan or had suffered from Japanese occupation during the war: Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and the Japanese island Okinawa, and although he did not explicitly apologize on these occasions he nevertheless expressed his “deep regret”. But still, there were people who still thought of the late showa-tenno and missed him. He had been a man with a very charismatic personality and had held great importance for many Japanese. Somehow, his son could not quite replace him. And, concerning Michiko, I have already mentioned the aggressive press campaign against her that took place in 1993 and that accused her of causing a “crisis” in the monarchy because she would not allow anything to happen without her previous consent. She also was blamed by the media of commanding her servants to get up in the middle of the night in order to boil noodles and to slice apples for her … Fritz and Kobayashi comment that this attack was probably only partly aimed at the empress: as it is impossible to directly criticize the tenno, or even male members of the imperial family in general, their wives are attacked instead. (Although with the crown prince this traditional strategy obviously does not work quite so well as could be desired as he refuses to just shut up and be grateful that he himself is spared when somebody criticizes his wife…)

Sadame Kamakura who became head of the IHA in 1996 diagnosed the imperial family as having a serious image problem. He said: “The monarchy is living through a difficult time. The world is moving forward at full speed. It is impossible that the services or events of the imperials should be performed in the same way as in ancient times. Just by simple repetitions the monarchy will not be able to keep up with the changing of times.” The emperor and the empress were certainly very noble and dignified. But nobody could clearly see who they were. Seen from the distance, their humanity was not visible. Perhaps it was just Masako´s not being infallible and her being so obviously a commoner trying to join the “okami”, the “high up” imperial family that brought her closer to the people. It was much easier to identify with her. So, Kamakura brought up the idea to make use of Masako´s popularity in order to help the Japanese monarchy get a new image that would better agree with modern times. He proposed to bring her more into public. But emperor and empress obviously did not appreciate this plan. Fritz and Kobayashi report that Kamakura, according to rumors, was getting along rather badly with the empress and that his critical words had strongly displeased her. Instead of letting the already too popular Masako “come to the front”, the emperor and the empress began to go more into public themselves.

End of the summary of the sixth chapter
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Old 03-28-2008, 06:59 AM
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Yep, you´ll probably be surprised to hear it but all this stuff comes only from the sixth chapter (with a very, very few exceptions from the previous chapters that readers of the book would, of course, already know and that I needed for the context). Of course, I have left out many details or examples but as the conflict in the imperial family is rather complicated I really had to do justice to every aspect of the matter. And I suppose that, depending on which part I was working on, it sometimes sounded more like: “The emperor and the empress are clearly right.” and then again: “I feel with Masako and Naruhito.” At least, I hope so for that is the impression that the book gave me, too, and that I wanted to transfer to you. Naturally, most of us will in the end still be loyal fans of the party that we have preferred in the first place. But I hope that it has become clear that also “the other side” has good reasons for their view of things and their actions and are not just being tyrannical or ungrateful and irresponsible - as the case may be.


And, second, I wanted to pass on this idea that really fascinated me: that this is not just an individual conflict between generations in a family but that the imperials, in fact, are acting out a national conflict, concerning how to deal with change and tradition, with the needs of the individual and the demands of the group. The problem (at least the special form it takes, as, of course, we in all countries have to deal with change etc.) as well as the ways in which it happens to be expressed seem to me to be very Japanese. (Just my impression, of course.) Sure, it is a pity that the members of the imperial family are not able to become reconciled and to bring all their parts together. This would, of course, be the “paradise outcome” as every one of them stands, as far as I understand it, for an important tendency in the Japanese nation. But even if they are not able to do that we should not underrate what they have already done by representing this conflict and by making it visible. We can only deal with and solve what we perceive and understand.


Well, so far the wise words… The next thing I will do is the seventh (and last) chapter because there Fritz and Kobayashi present their personal interpretation of the “pr-strategy” of emperor and empress after Naruhito´s lifting of the chrysanthemum curtain. I will do that next because I want to first and foremost share those parts of the information that you can probably get nowhere else, not even in Japanese publications because they are based on personal conclusions that Fritz and Kobayashi have drawn from the information they got while working on their book. (But this chapter will be done much sooner as it is only 12 pages - and not 60).
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Old 03-30-2008, 09:03 PM
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Thanks for all your hard work, ChiaraC. It's much appreciated!
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Old 04-04-2008, 06:42 AM
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Post A prince tears down the chrysanthemum veil

Thank you very much, Elspeth, for the compliment. I also see with pleasure that in the other thread the information I give here is made use of. This is exactly what I intended. We who are interested in the Japanese imperial family are really leading a beggar´s life concerning hard facts , and so we should make the most of the few bits that we do have…

Fritz and Kobayashi say that after Naruhito´s public call for help for his sick wife, emperor and empress perfectly understood that it would no longer do in future to leave the public fully in the dark about the disturbed relationships in the imperial family. But the problem that presented itself to them at first was that the crown prince´s obvious courage had raised sympathy, compassion and admiration in a lot of people and that – although Naruhito had not said WHO had been so cruelly trying to crush his wife´s personality – there were rumors in circulation that said that it had been the unfriendliness of emperor and empress that had made Masako ill. If emperor and empress already at that point had tried to make a “counterattack” it would probably only have been seen as a further proof for these suspicions.

So, the first thing they had to do was to show the public that there was no discord between the two couples and that – whatever might be the reason for Masako´s suffering – it was, in any case, not the fault of her parents-in-law. So, when on the 10th July 2004 a tennis match took place on the court of the Akasaka palace (close to which the togu palace is situated) that the crown prince attended as well as his parents they took this opportunity to also visit the crown princess and to express their concern for her health. This gesture was widely reported in the media. Court journalist Katsumi Iwai (who is sometimes called the unofficial “speaker” of the tenno) described in detail how empress Michiko on this visit compassionately embraced the sick Masako. It sounds touching indeed but it is not quite clear, as Fritz and Kobayashi point out, how he had come to know of this instance. The two couples had been by themselves, nobody had been with them. Fritz and Kobayashi suppose that it might have been Michiko herself who had informed him. According to them, Michiko´s skill in using the press for her purposes can be compared to that of princess Diana. She diligently controls articles about the monarchy and knows how to get her opinions and views expressed in them by either talking to friends of the things she wants to be known (who then, in their turn, inform the press) or by directly inviting selected journalists (among them, first and foremost, Katsumi Iwai) in order to exchange opinions and information.

However that may have been, now Naruhito and Masako had to fulfill their duty and to visit the emperor and the empress in their turn to express their gratitude. They did this on the 4th September, Masako was leaving the togu palace on this occasion for the first time after her return from Karuizawa where she had been staying for health reasons in April 2004. Journalists remarked that Masako looked still sickly and tired but as she and the crown prince obviously did not have a problem to visit the emperor and empress it was concluded that her health problems had nothing to do with them.

Now, the time had come for Akihito and Michiko to get the public´s sympathy to their side. Friends of the emperor had already said in the summer of 2004 that prince Naruhito was too much under the influence of his wife, and they predicted that if he insisted on supporting an unpopular person he would lose much of his popularity himself. “The feeling that the prince is a foolish son is getting stronger and stronger in Japan. At the same time, his brother Fumihito´s popularity is clearly raising.” (We remember that it is, so to speak, the traditional price the male members of the imperial family pay for themselves being out of danger of being criticized that they allow their wives to be attacked in their stead…) Fritz and Kobayashi comment that this sounded like a ready made script for the things that were to come…
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Old 04-04-2008, 07:09 AM
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Post Counterstrike, part I

From now on, the press started featuring discussions about the possibility of Naruhito´s divorcing Masako, and even more malicious rumors: that Aiko was suffering from autism. This seemed to be a public challenge to Masako and Naruhito to show their child. And they complied: in September 2004 they published a home video of their daughter, made by Naruhito, in which little Aiko dances with her mother and reads from a picture book. It was the first publication ever of private pictures of members of the imperial family. And so, although its end of showing the healthy, strong, happy little princess to the world was fully gained it also broke a national taboo which also had considerably negative effects. Even more so, as in this film the luxury of the imperial life style was demonstratively displayed: the beautiful, spacious rooms, Naruhito who had leisure to play with his child during daytime, Masako who took her time to recover from an “illness” that had never been explained to the public and that, according to their information, could as well be simply laziness. So, the crown prince´s family lost by this action an considerable amount of the sympathies they had gained by Naruhito´s open words to the press.

(The following is not in the book, it is only a thought of mine: it seems to me that it is a strong social rule in Japan not to show too obviously things or qualities that one has and that might raise envy in others: a healthy child, a beautiful palace, leisure, freedom of choice etc. I really have the impression that there is a difference in this point to Western views where it is o.k. to openly show what good things you have – as long as you have not stolen them or something like that – whereas in Japan people also may like to “show off” (humans will be humans…) but are socially required to always remember to be modest and not to feel better or more fortunate than their neighbors. - Although I really do not know how you can, on one hand, show that you are descended from a goddess and not become “too commoner-like” and stay special and, on the other, still be modest and not raise envy, as the members of the imperial family have to do. It seems impossible to me. Perhaps this is part of the problem. Perhaps there will always have to be “scapegoats” in the imperial family who have to make up for the privileges that all members enjoy and on whom the aggressions caused by the envy of the less privileged can be let loose… Maybe the only thing that can be changed is WHO it is who has to take this unfortunate position - and maybe this is why the discussions are carried on with so much passion.)

According to Fritz and Kobayashi, the next strikes followed on quickly: on her birthday on the 20th October the empress expressed concern for her daughter-in-law´s illness but she also remarked: “Up from my wedding with Aikihito I have always had the feeling of a heavy responsibility not to bring shame upon the imperial family.” Fritz and Kobayashi interpret this as a warning advice to Masako to give up her old commoner´s dreams of realization of self, to follow Michiko´s example and to modestly occupy her place in the family she had married into. Then, on the 23th October, the earth quake in Niigata took place. As I have already mentioned (see “Mystic symbol”), emperor and empress went there by helicopter to support the survivors whereas, unfortunately, the crown prince´s family on the same day was to take a trip to the imperial farm at Tochigi because of Masako´s health. (This had been already planned long ago). According to Fritz and Kobayashi, the people in the “togu”- palace had the impression that they had been trapped: detailed reports about the crown princess´s illness had not yet been published in the media, and so it now seemed that crown prince and crown princess went on recreation for unimportant reasons while emperor and empress took so much pains to serve their suffering people.
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Old 04-04-2008, 07:13 AM
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Post Counterstrike, part II

So, at this time the public opinion had - without words but with skilfull strategy – been successfully changed and pretty much turned by 180° against Naruhito and Masako, and the “other side´s” turn had come to openly address the conflict in public. On his birthday (30th November) prince Fumihito expressed his surprise about and his dissent with his brother´s words and criticized him for not having talked in private to the emperor before going into public with his complaints. He said that he saw a clear difference between the things one wants to do and the official duties. And he also stressed that, in his opinion, the imperial duties bear a passive character. (We remember that this is one of the fundamental points of dissent between the crown prince and the emperor: the crown prince wants to serve his people in a more active way.)

If the Japanese public had been shocked by Naruhito´s declaration it was hardly less so by his brother´s answer. If Naruhito could have been criticized for his openness, the same critique might have been applied to his brother who brought the family conflict – which had by all previous actions of emperor and empress been denied to exist at all and which had not been mentioned for nearly six months – again out into the glaring light of the public. And, second: Naruhito is the elder brother, and, according to Confucian law, it is Fumihito´s duty to treat him with respect. So it could, according to Fritz and Kobayashi, only be supposed that he was acting with the consent, if not under the direction, of his father.

This seemed to be proved right by the press conference that the emperor himself gave on the 23th December on occasion of his birthday. On one hand, Akihito denied to ever have heard from his son that there had been problems at all and said that he or the empress would have been always willing to give an advice - if they had been asked. So, he implicitly blamed the crown prince for not having done this. Also, he explicitly declared that the press speculations that had assumed that Naruhito had meant to accuse his own parents by speaking of persons having tried to “deny” Masako´s personality, that these speculations had been “painful” and not at all based upon facts. But, on the other hand, Akihito remarked that although he had in the meantime talked several times to his son on this issue he still did not fully understand what Naruhito had wanted to say. And the emperor strictly refrained from commenting on Naruhito´s accusations that Masako´s personality had been suppressed and that she had been prevented from traveling. The tenno said that he preferred not to talk about these points at the moment. Summing up: he insisted on never having been aware of a problem, but even now that he obviously could not help being aware of a problem existing he did not choose to address the main points of it.

Katsumi Iwai, the tenno´s “unofficial speaker”, wrote in the newspaper “Asahi”: “It is disturbing if there cannot be felt a strong will from the crown prince couple to end a situation in which rumors circulate and people hurt each other´s feelings.” And he complained: “We neither hear an honest word of apology from them for the fact that this situation hurts the souls of the emperor and empress nor for that they do not sufficiently fulfill their tasks.”

As Fritz and Kobayashi´s book came out in spring 2005, they finish with describing the crown prince´s reaction in his birthday press conference in February 2005: He declared that he was saddened to have given trouble to the emperor and the empress and to have caused concern to the Japanese people. But, concerning the main points, he did not recede: he remarked that in every family there used to be a “generation gap” and, accordingly, different opinions. And he stressed that with all he did he never had ceased to value and support tradition, and he corrected his brother (who had said that personal wishes do not have to do anything with public duties, obviously meaning that Naruhito, without a sense of responsibility, just wanted to do as he pleased): “My idea of my duties is not based on what “I” want to do but on my wanting to look for means how to best serve the nation and the people in these times that keep changing with vertiginous quickness.” And, on this occasion, he and his wife published again private pictures and videos from their winter vacation.

To be continued
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Old 04-04-2008, 01:57 PM
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Thumbs up VERY INTERESTING reading, ChiaraC. Kudos to you!

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Originally Posted by ChiaraC View Post
So, at this time the public opinion had - without words but with skilfull strategy – been successfully changed and pretty much turned by 180° against Naruhito and Masako, and the “other side´s” turn had come to openly address the conflict in public. On his birthday (30th November) prince Fumihito expressed his surprise about and his dissent with his brother´s words and criticized him for not having talked in private to the emperor before going into public with his complaints. He said that he saw a clear difference between the things one wants to do and the official duties. And he also stressed that, in his opinion, the imperial duties bear a passive character. (We remember that this is one of the fundamental points of dissent between the crown prince and the emperor: the crown prince wants to serve his people in a more active way.).....{snip long quoted extract}

To be continued
ChiaraC: I had to capitalise my TITLE / the TITLE of this reply, here because I am so impressed with your Entries and with your exhaustive translation from the book!

Wow ...

Thanks so very much for thinking of the rest of the Fans and Royal-Watchers and providing for us information from this book!

-- Abbie
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Old 04-05-2008, 01:24 AM
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Once again, thank you ChiaraC for the translation from the book. I enjoy it very much and I am looking forward for the next traslation. I wish Fritz and Kobayashi have their book translation in English.

From what I read in the translation, I could clearly see that there are hugh conflict in the imperial family. Also, there is no friendly realtionship between the two brothers. It seems like the whole family are against the crown prince and princess. It is very sad to see that.
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Old 04-10-2008, 08:01 AM
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Lightbulb interesting link

As I have been dealing a lot with what the Japanese people think about the imperial family, I want to post here an old link upon which I recently came again by accident. (It is certainly already somewhere posted in the older threads of this forum but most of us would probably not find it. ) I think it very interesting because it shows how big the differences in opinion seem to be even in the younger generation of Japanese. While the young woman speaks in an absolutely “modern” way the young man even seems to have still a certain liking for the idea of concubines – although he knows that it is not possible to clearly say that…

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Head to head: Japan's royal birth
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Old 04-10-2008, 08:06 AM
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Question entry not found...

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I somewhere read in this forum that Michiko said they behave like "little mothers" but also tend to be a bit malicious sometimes and that it is a pleasure to see Aiko so tenderly treating her little cousin – at least, it is this what I remember. It must have been somewhen around New year but I cannot find it so quickly. I will look for it when I have more time, o.k.? Maybe then we will understand the difference, or maybe I have misunderstood a word – that does happen, of course. And what I see in the faces of Mako and Kako I still see but, of course, it is only my impression, and I cannot prove it. But anyway, thank you for the words by Michiko that you quoted, I did not know them before.
Dear bekalc!
I have not forgotten to look for the promised article but I have to confess that up until now I have not been able to find it. Now there are two possibilities:
1. I still tend to think – as several links from postings around New Year already do not work any more – that it has been in one of them because I clearly remember reading it and admiringly thinking: “Well the empress is a very attentive watcher indeed, and she IS being very honest.” But neither can I exclude the second possibility
2. that I am so fascinated with this forum that I read at night in my dreams articles that then in daylight – not surprisingly – I cannot find again.
(If I still should find it though I, of course, will post it, but for now I give up.)
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Old 04-10-2008, 08:11 AM
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Smile Thank you!

Thank you, Abbie and Kimlan, for letting me know of your interest and for your kind support!

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I wish Fritz and Kobayashi have their book translation in English.
Well, actually I am no longer absolutely sure that there is no English translation in existence somewhere... True, before I started doing this summary I had a look at amazon to see if there were books in English by Martin Fritz and Yoko Kobayashi and I found nothing. But since then I have been reading old threads and I found (in the Ben-Hills-thread) someone mentioning a Spanish translation and somewhere else someone mentioned to have just finished reading Fritz´ and Kobayashis book, naming the title in English – but as she was from Belgium it might as well have been in French or Dutch, I do not know…

But however this may be - as it is I have gone too far to stop now… And then, sure it is work, it would be nonsense to deny it but, funny as that may sound, I am getting a lot of information from it myself. Why? Well, the book is written in a rather “chatty” style and it is an very easy read, but that also means that the same theme is taken up several times during the book – for example, in order to do a certain part I had to take material from pages 152-154, 168-170 and a little bit from 121/122. So although all the information had been there all the time and I had read it before, I still have sometimes failed to put things together when I was only reading it for myself. For example, I only realized when I was doing the summary that the very Takeshi Usami that Fritz and Kobayashi mention as a notable model of excellence of the old “kunaicho”-executive had been the same man who had tried to save Michiko from having to go to the US shortly after Naruhito´s birth. And, another example, I also got to clearly understand the differences between the views of the emperor and the crown prince on the role of the tenno only when I HAD to understand them to be able to summarize them in a short paragraph. True, all my information about this issue IS from this book but in this case it is really again a matter of the emperor´s views being on pages 30, 158-162, 170-174 and 178-191 and the crown prince´s on 45, 152-155, 184-187 and 192-194… (I am inventing here freely, I delete the page numbers when I have written a part but it was pretty much similar to it.) Especially with the crown prince it took me an amount of time to really “get it” (as I told you at the time).

And this is why I can say that doing this summary is also giving a lot to myself – although I, of course, also do it for you (if nobody had ever said anything on this thread except myself I would have stopped long ago) and also because it is nice to have everybody in this forum on a more equal level of information – it makes it easier to know which discussions are unnecessary and helps to stay concentrated on the main points.
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Old 04-10-2008, 08:15 AM
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Post Tactlessness of a German newspaper

The next thing I want to share with you are two articles in the press that were published during the “childless” time of the crown prince and his wife and that have made me think a lot. Both are described in the fourth chapter of the book I am summarizing, and all the information that I give here about them is taken from this very book. But the comparison and the reflections that follow are my own.

I want to start with an article about the ongoing childlessness of the couple that was published in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, a serious German newspaper, in 2001 (ironically, that was only a very short time before Masako got pregnant with Aiko). What was so remarkable with it was the front page: it showed Naruhito, side by side with his wife, and, crossing his hips, there was a headline: “Tote Hose”. Literally translated: “d.e.a.d trousers” (do not pay any attention to the periods, I am having trouble with censure again, but in order to translate literally I need the word). I do not suppose that this makes much sense in English but I also assume that it is not so hard to guess the meaning: when we say in German that there is somewhere “tote Hose” we mean that there is boredom or a lack of vitality, or more literally, it means a man lacking traditionally “male” qualities – of begetting children or of making his wife happy (I hope you understand me without me having to take the trouble again to fight with censure…). It is, of course, a very colloquial and rather new expression, I think it came up in the eighties. And it is not quite so horrible as it may sound when literally translated. If it criticizes a man for not being “a real man” it also at the same time ironically asks if these male standards of “superman” are really to be taken so serious, if they are not just a rather outdated cliché that no human being can be seriously supposed to live up to. This is probably why a pop-band that was very popular in the eighties called themselves “Die Toten Hosen”, “The D.E.A.D Trousers” – and I assure you they were at that time a couple of very strong and healthy looking young men, and, judging from their outer appearance, very far from being suspected of lacking vitality… (I apologize for this rather lengthy sort of “German for very advanced learners, part 124” but I have to explain this to give you a clear idea of the attitude that was expressed in this headline.)

A lot of German readers – if they cared at all, as the Japanese imperial family is hardly known in Germany, much less than the British or the Dutch royals, for example – probably shook their heads and thought it rather distasteful and not so very funny (as I would have done if I had seen it at the time which I have not). But as the Germans have once been in the habit of paying much too much respect to authorities (this habit already dated back to Prussian times) some people nowadays still think it necessary to show that they have got that over and because of that use to think it a good joke to make fun of much revered traditional authorities, such as kings or the pope or people of the sort. (Which, in my opinion, does not show much democratic maturity: a true democrat would treat everybody with respect, emperors and popes included.) But as this attitude is still not unusual among Germans it was - in Germany - not out of the expected that the writer of this article was making a rather tactless joke about the Japanese crown prince. But the Japanese government - who is usually rather cautious and diplomatic in its reactions - was furious on the occasion. The Japanese ambassador in Germany commented: “The newspaper is being impolite towards the crown prince and injures at the same time our national feeling.” And the German ambassador in Japan as well as the correspondent of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” in Japan were ordered to come to the Japanese foreign office to have a talk about this affair.
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