Parenting book gets princely praise Acclaimed author Dorothy Law Nolte visits Japan
By TOMOKO OTAKE
Parenting expert Dorothy Law Nolte enjoys a huge following worldwide; her 1998 book, "Children Learn What They Live," sold over 700,000 copies in her native U.S. and has been translated into 36 languages. The Japanese version was a steady seller -- until February this year, when the father of a certain 3-year-old girl brought it to public notice and sent sales through the roof. Dorothy Law Nolte shot to fame after Crown Prince Naruhito praised her book.
The girl was Princess Aiko, and the father, Crown Price Naruhito, who, at a rare news conference, read out the poem that Nolte penned some 51 years ago and which served as the inspiration for her best seller. Suddenly, "Children Learn What They Live" became required reading for Japanese parents, and PHP Institute Inc., which publishes the Japanese version of the book, says it has sold 2.25 million copies, 780,000 since late February.
So what is so special about Nolte's message that the Crown Prince felt compelled to share it with the nation? The poem he read out was first published in 1954 in a newspaper in Torrence, California, where she wrote a weekly parenting column. The 19-verse poem, which starts with "If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn," goes on to connect children's aggression with an atmosphere of hostility at home, their sense of respect with the kindness they are shown, and so on. The book elaborates on how to instill each of the values listed in the poem, citing a number of real-life situations parents face -- such as kids crying out "I'm hungry!" while they are preparing a meal -- and creative ways to deal with them.
Nolte visited Japan for the fourth time earlier this month. This time, unlike on previous visits, she had a chance to spend half a day with local children at Suginami Daishi Elementary School in Tokyo. The 81-year-old author, who has three children, two grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, shared her thoughts on her work, parenting and much more in this interview with The Japan Times.
Why do you think your book has become so popular around the world?
I feel the book met a need. Even just the title is an introduction to a need. As you think, children learn what they live, parents get thoughtful just with that, and think, "Oh, I'd better read that." So even the title sparks a reaching for the book, at least to look at it, to examine. If they do that much, I think they'll be trapped. (Laughs) I think they'll move into wanting to explore the book, which means they are exploring their role in parenting, aren't they? And that's very important.
When you visited the elementary school, did you notice any cultural differences between kids in the U.S. and in Japan?
No. Kids are like kids, really and truly. They get restless, they want to move on. Or they totally absorbed if you do it the right way, which is what we want -- their attention . . . I just simply realized that kids are kids and they work in certain ways, and if we can meet their basic real needs, they will be better kids all the way. They'll learn faster and they'll be more human.
At the school, you gave a lecture to educators, in which you talked a lot about kinaesthesis.
We have a whole kinaesthetic sense. Right now you are sensing the chair you are sitting on, through your muscles and your legs. That's registering. We are continually in touch with our environment in that way . . . Kids are very kinaesthetically organized in a sense that, when I ask them, "Now you sit there and don't move," that is a very strong statement and almost impossible for a child to obey. And parents need to understand that movement is healthy . . . Kinaesthesic awareness is to be cultivated. We need to get in touch with that sense of how we're feeling right now . . .
In Japan, many people are opting not to have kids. Parents are often very isolated and have few people to share problems with. Do you think parenting is more difficult today?
A parent who decides ahead of time that this is hard, whatever it is, probably it'll be hard. If she comes in with the attitude of, "I can handle this," she is going to have a different response to the situation . . . Sure, there are ups and downs in parenting, that's the way it works. Children can be unpredictable, that's the way it works. And moms can feel overloaded, that's the way it works. The important thing is how we feel about all that. If we take it in our stride, understand it's part of the game, then that's one thing. But if we begin feeling sorry for ourselves, getting mad at somebody, then we're dealing more with our internal affairs rather than really dealing with parenting . . .
What do you think are the biggest challenges for parents today, compared to when you wrote the poem?
As far as kids and parents are concerned today, I feel like I had an easy job. I didn't have to deal with this television routine, video games and computers . . . Parents need to know what's being shown, rather than turning the child loose to watch any program he wants on TV . . . A family is a showcase in learning. Learning about each other, learning about the self, learning the rules, good living, learning what works best and what to throw out, behavior to cancel. The Japan Times: May 26, 2005
Portugal's President Jorge Sampaio stands with Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito upon his arrival for talks at the Togu Palace in Tokyo May 27, 2005. Sampaio, accompanied by his wife Maria Jose Ritta, is in Japan on a week-long visit.
What is the status of Masako's health? She looked happy and relaxed when saying good bye and then welcoming back the Emperor and Emperess from their European trip, but I guess it was for such a brief amount of time at the airport, it could be deceiving about the true status of her health and mental condition.
Crown Princess reportedly showing signs of recovery
Compiled from Kyodo, AP
Crown Princess Masako, who has withdrawn from official palace duties for a year and half because of stress-induced health problems, is making a steady but slow recovery.
The former career diplomat withdrew from her official palace duties in December 2003 due to bouts of depression and anxiety set off by the pressures of palace life.
The chamberlain of Togu Palace, where the 41-year-old Crown Princess lives with Crown Prince Naruhito, told reporters Friday she is making progress "slowly but steadily."
"She now seems to regain a positive frame of mind more quickly, and we recognize that her condition has apparently improved," Hideki Hayashida told a news conference.
But Hayashida added that doctors said she should not push too hard, and it may take some time before she can resume her official duties.
Imperial Household Agency officials were not available for comment late Friday.
The couple has indicated that enormous pressure to produce a male heir was partially responsible for her condition.
Women are barred by law from ascending to the Chrysanthemum Throne. However, the government has begun studying an amendment that would allow an empress to reign, which would clear the way for Princess Aiko, the 3-year-old child of the Crown Prince and Princess, to succeed her father. The Japan Times: May 15, 2005
Spanish crown prince, pregnant wife to visit Aichi Expo
Mon May 30, 2:49 PM ET
MADRID (AFP) - Spanish heir to the throne Prince Felipe and his pregnant wife Princess Letizia will embark on a four-day trip to Japan to visit the World Expo at Aichi.
The official part of the couple's trip will begin Friday, when they will attend the eighth Spanish-Japonese Forum at the Spanish embassy in Tokyo.
The spokesman added that the princess was set to accompany her husband despite the distance and the fact that she was expecting the couple's first child in November.
Later the same day they will attend a dinner at the imperial palace hosted by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
After meeting some of the Spanish community in the capital the couple will head down to Nagoya, the capital of Aichi province, which has been hosting the Expo since March 25 under the motto "Nature's wisdom."
The environmental jamboree runs to September 25.
Returning to Tokyo on Sunday, Felipe and Letizia will dine with Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako at their hosts' Akasaka Palace before returnnig to Spain.
Panel members on imperial succession hear opinions from experts
(Kyodo) _ A government panel on imperial succession heard opinions Tuesday from four experts on the imperial system as part of the process of compiling a report, possibly by this fall, on whether to allow a female to ascend the Imperial throne.
Four experts presented their views in front of reporters as well as panel members in order to address ways to ensure what the panel calls "a stable imperial succession."
The four are among eight experts chosen by the advisory panel, consisting of 10 members. The remaining four will meet the panel on June 8 to express their views.
A focus of attention is whether to revise the 1947 Imperial House Law, which stipulates that only male heirs who have emperors on their father's side can accede to the imperial throne.
Given the fact that no male heir has been born since 1965, the survival of the imperial family is in peril.
The panel wants the experts to present "a wide range of opinions" before compiling the report, Hiroyuki Yoshikawa, a former president of the University of Tokyo who heads the panel, has said.
Two of the four experts who spoke Tuesday proposed maintaining the current imperial succession system.
Yasuo Ohara, a professor at Kokushikan University, and Hidetsugu Yagi, an associate professor at Takasaki City University of Economics, opposed any measures that might break the male line of descent in imperial succession, including allowing a female monarch or succession by heirs who have emperors on their mothers' side.
The remaining two -- Hiroshi Takahashi, a professor at Shizuoka University of Welfare, and Koichi Yokota, a professor at Ryutsu Keizai University -- basically supported a proposal for allowing female monarchs.
Among Japan's 125 emperors, including those known only in legend, there were eight female monarchs -- between the sixth and 18th centuries -- with two of them reigning twice under different names.
But the throne always went back to a male in the male line.
Ohara said panel members should discuss ways to maintain the current succession system -- ensuring only male heirs who have emperors on their fathers' side can accede to the throne -- before entering discussions on allowing female monarchs or allowing a female line of descent.
He proposed families which were divested of imperial status shortly after World War II be returned to imperial status to help secure candidates qualified to ascend the throne.
"We shouldn't easily decide to allow a female monarch. I am concerned about rushing toward a conclusion," he said.
Yagi also said that the male-line succession is Japan's "irreplaceable culture" and that the matter should be discussed with "great caution."
Meanwhile, Takahashi from Shizuoka University of Welfare, proposed a succession system in which precedence is to be given to the royal firstborn regardless of gender, saying such a system is easy to understand for the general public.
Yokota from Ryutsu Keizai University agreed, saying such a system would ensure "stable" imperial succession compared with the present system and would gain support from the public relatively easily.
In the previous May 11 meeting, the panel members were presented four options for allowing a female to ascend the throne, in addition to the present imperial succession system.
One of the four options gives precedence in imperial succession to the emperor's firstborn regardless of gender. In the three other options, males are given precedence to females in ascending the throne.
If the current succession system is changed to give precedence to the royal firstborn regardless of gender, 3-year-old Princess Aiko, the only child of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, will become second in line to the throne after her father.
If precedence to males is stipulated under the revised rule, Princess Aiko will be the seventh in line to the throne, after her father Crown Prince Naruhito, his brother Prince Akishino, the emperor's brother Prince Hitachi and three other male members of the family. The order of the first six heirs in line is the same as stipulated under the current law.
The panel members are to narrow down their discussions on the options after hearing opinions from the experts. The panel members are six academics, a former Supreme Court justice, a business leader, a former deputy chief Cabinet secretary, and a senior government official.
1.With Britain's Prince Edward in January 1998
2.Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito (L), who will celebrate his 35th birthday February 23 1995, relaxes Crown Princess Masako at the Togu Palace.
3.Japanese Crown Princess Masako (R) follows Crown Prince Naruhito as they leave the opening session of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) meeting in Fukuoka, southwestern Japan May 11th 1997. Naruhito made a speech welcoming the ADB meeting, which marks the 30th anniversary, at the session.
4.Japan's Crown Princess Masako, seen in this June 28 file photo, will have a test December 13th 1999 to confirm if she is pregnant, a prospect that has stirred a media frenzy in a nation anxious for a royal baby boy who would be heir to the chrysanthemum throne. If Masako, 36, has a boy, the baby would be second in line to the throne after his father, Crown Prince Naruhito.
"God save our Gracious Queen,
Long live our Noble Queen,
God save The Queen"
God save Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
1.Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito (R) and Crown Princess Masako bow their heads to lay chrysanthemums on the altar of late Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi during the funeral ceremony in Tokyo 08 June 2000.
2.Japan's Crown Princess Masako, who celebrates her 37th birthday December 9, 2000, smiles with her husband Crown Prince Naruhito as they take a stroll through their Akasaka Palace garden in Tokyo.
3.Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito (L) and Crown Princess Masako (R) are seen before the start of a concert at Akasaka Guesthouse in Tokyo 27 March 2001. The royal couple attend the event with Norwegian King Harald, Queen Sonja, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko prior to a Banquet.
4.Japanese Crown Princess Masako waves as Belgian Princess Mathilde looks on in Tokyo in this September 26, 2000 file photo.
5.Japan's Crown Princess Masako leaves the Imperial Palace in Tokyo May 16, 2001.
"God save our Gracious Queen,
Long live our Noble Queen,
God save The Queen"
God save Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The last act of the visit of Don Felipe and Doña Letizia to Japan was a dinner with the Crown Prince of Japan, Naruhito, and his wife, Princess Masako. At 7:30 p.m. (10.30 GMT), the Princes of Asturias arrived at the Palace of Akasaka, in Tokyo, where they were received by Prince Naruhito. A spokesman of the Imperial House informed that Princess Masako greeted the Princes in the interior of the Palace, without the presence of mass media.
Before the dinner, Princes Naruhito and Masako presented their only daughter, Princess Aiko, of three years old, to their Spanish guests. Last Friday, on their first day in Tokyo, the Princes of Asturias were received by the Emperors Akihito and Michiko, who offered them a dinner at the ImperialPalace. If on that night Doña Letizia chose a pre-mother pink coat and suit, today she also wore a short sleeve coat with a red dress.
With this dinner, the Princes of Asturias finish their three-day visit to Japan, during which they have met the Spanish community that lives and works here, as well as the participants of the VIII Forum Spain-Japan, in Shirahama.
Today in the morning they have visited the Universal Exhibition of Aichi, on the outskirts of Nagoya. At 10:30 p.m. (13.30 GMT), approximately, the airplane of the Spanish Air Force took the Princes back to Spain, with a technical scale in Moscow.