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  #261  
Old 04-17-2013, 07:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vkrish View Post
I am just very curious to know..
Does anyone have even a vague idea how they "stress" her out? [...]
I have a lot to say on that one. It is not just the IHA that causes the stress but, of course, the IHA and imperial tradition do play an important role.

All, in all, there are six factors I would like to mention in this context:
  1. Japan´s crown princess – a victim of political power struggles
  2. “Denial of personality”
  3. No privacy - even at home
  4. Censorship
  5. Isolation
  6. Failure regarding the one and only important task: to bear a male heir

1. Japan´s crown princess – a victim of political power struggles

There is a group of very powerful and vocal people in Japan who never wanted Masako as crown princess, from the very beginning. I want to explain this point a bit more in detail because it is relatively little known, compared to the “male heir issue” and the “travel abroad issue”.

I hope the people who read the succession-thread forgive me if I put the following quote here again. (I think that maybe not everybody who reads this thread also reads the succession thread.) A 1993 New York Times article reported on a very nasty press campaign against Empress Michiko that took place at the time and that shocked her so that, as a consequence, she was unable to speak for several months afterwards. The article went on by saying that the bitchy gossip about her was, probably, not true at all but had a serious political background: she and her husband (who were relatively new in their position by then) had raised the anger of a very powerful and vocal group in Japanese society.
Quote:
Some Japanese professing to understand the bizarre court politics of the palace say Michiko's habits are not the issue at all. Instead, they argue that it is a smoke screen for far more fundamental criticism about the direction in which she and Emperor Akihito have taken the Chrysanthemum Throne since they were formally enthroned in 1990. […] Some believe the nastiest comments were directed at Michiko because in Japan one still dares not find fault with the Emperor.
The emperor had angered people who belong to the extreme right (that still has much influence) by openly seeking reconciliation with Japan´s neighbours:
Quote:
A year ago this month Akihito became the first Japanese ruler ever to visit China, speaking along the way of the "unbearable suffering" Japan inflicted there. Earlier this year he visited Okinawa, an island chain whose residents feel they were sacrificed by the Japanese Government in a last-ditch effort to save the mainland from the invading American forces in 1945.
But these were not the only actions by which imperial family infuriated Japan´s conservatives at the time:
Quote:
The right wing was angered anew, 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.
That means, when Masako became crown princess she was confronted, right from the beginning, with the hate of people whom she could never please no matter how hard she tried because this was not about how she behaved but about who she was and where she came from. She knew that beforehand, of course, and it was one of the main reasons why she hesitated for so long to accept Naruhito´s marriage offer. This was probably also the reason why the couple decided to make Naruhito´s promise of protection public at their engagement press conference: it was to signal everybody that the prince would take every attack on Masako as an attack on himself.

Nevertheless, there was never a “closed season” regarding Masako, not even in the beginning. The attacks started immediately after her engagement press conference: the princess-to-be was criticized for having talked 28 seconds longer than the crown prince on the occasion and for having said “immodest” things like: “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 but one.”

Still, it is important to note that in 1993, Masako was by far too popular with the general population as to serve as a scapegoat for all the shortcomings of the imperial family – the main strike in 1993 went, as I mentioned before, against her mother-in-law who was an easier target. This, of course, changed after Masako fell ill. Due to the fact that her illness was kept a complete secret at the beginning (and a relative secret ever since), it was rather easy to convince people that she was not ill but just lazy. To some degree, though, she was still protected for some time by the fact that she had such a cute little daughter. Although there were purposefully mischievous rumours leaked of Aiko being autistic or somehow mentally challenged, most people were charmed by the little princess. But when Hisahito was born in 2006, he, being a baby, naturally took the first rank in the public “cuteness ranking”. (I am aware that this sounds absurd. But if you come to think about it a bit, you will have to admit that when in royal families a baby is born, there is always an increase in public attention and goodwill towards them. It may be not fair but it is probably just human nature.)

From this point on, it was possible to denounce Masako openly without having to fear a public outcry. Not surprisingly, it is this what happened. In 2008, for example, there was what could be called a downright media campaign in which it was said that the princess was always fine when she wanted to party but always sick when she had a public engagement. (I am not going to explain here why I think that these accusations were completely unfounded because this would get too long.)

Besides, the crown princess has since become a popular figure of ridicule and even downright hate on certain Japanese websites. As casualfan justly remarked, some people went so far as to bluntly recommend her to commit suicide, along with her daughter, to leave her husband free to remarry and produce a son. In addition, Masako is being criticized by bloggers for various things, for example for being fat and for allegedly having a “voracious appetite”, as reported in this article:
Quote:
Some of the comments by website visitors referred to her as “Royal Meat” and “Royal Pork” because she likes pork. […] Some sites claim that her diplomat father is trying to take over the Imperial Family through his daughter’s marriage to the prince. They claim that her high profile was the result of bribery. Some people insist that her daughter Aiko is autistic and developmentally challenged. […]

In any other country, Masako would be going out to fashionable restaurants, be seen shopping in the best stores (like those in Tokyo’s Roppongi district), and perhaps be setting fashion trends. Instead, the Crown Princess is essentially a prisoner because she is well aware of the critics (and those they influence) out there lying in wait for her, as she is the particular focus of their poison. […]

The taboos of ultra-conservatives keep them from attacking the Emperor too directly, so instead the Crown Princess has become one of the substitute targets for them. Princess Masako is a Princess under siege.
(To be continued)
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  #262  
Old 04-17-2013, 08:17 AM
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Oh Chiara you are bringing so many new things to us which we never even imagined. I was totally thinking this is all just bcos of the boy-girl..
Thanks a lot ..Looking forward for more..
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  #263  
Old 04-17-2013, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by vkrish View Post
Oh Chiara you are bringing so many new things to us which we never even imagined. I was totally thinking this is all just bcos of the boy-girl..
Thanks a lot ..Looking forward for more..
That's the thing - a lot of this information is out there. But unfortunately a lot of people still criticize her for being, in essence, lazy or weak. I hope that real evidence and unbiased sources that tell the truth will convince them that what this woman has gone through is nothing short of torture. And then we wonder why she's ill.
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  #264  
Old 04-17-2013, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by fandesacs2003 View Post
OK, she had a brillant carreer of diplomate and she left all for love, but, where is the issue? She is japanese, and she married someone from her nation, speaking her language. Even if she was mainly raised abroad she was working for her country, didn't she know how the Princesses and Empresses were living? She knew that she was marrying the heir, he did not became heir after!! The propocol of the Royal Court in very strict and heavy, and Royal females do not really step out!! OK, but was this a secret? A diplomate should know the customs and protocol habits of her own royal Court.
In a way the situation reminds me a lot of that of Prince Claus of the Netherlands. He and Queen Beatrix totally loved eachother, he knew she was the heir and he knew what he was getting into when he married, the Dutch royal family rules are certainly less strict than the Japanese, but... he suffered many many years of depressions and felt suffocated in the 'golden cage'
It wasn't until his later years that he kind of learned to live with it...
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  #265  
Old 04-17-2013, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Lee-Z View Post

In a way the situation reminds me a lot of that of Prince Claus of the Netherlands. He and Queen Beatrix totally loved eachother, he knew she was the heir and he knew what he was getting into when he married, the Dutch royal family rules are certainly less strict than the Japanese, but... he suffered many many years of depressions and felt suffocated in the 'golden cage'
It wasn't until his later years that he kind of learned to live with it...
I do not think Pcs Claus suffered because of the protocol. He suffered because the duch people never loved him, as he was German, maybe also nazi, and later involved with a missiles (or planes) scandal.
Nothing to do with the Masaco case
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  #266  
Old 04-17-2013, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by fandesacs2003 View Post
I do not think Pcs Claus suffered because of the protocol. He suffered because the duch people never loved him, as he was German, maybe also nazi, and later involved with a missiles (or planes) scandal
I'm sorry, but this is not true..
Initially at the wedding there were anti-german protests, but over time he grew to be the most popular dutch royal, people also had a lot of sympathy for him because it was known that he had a difficult life adjusting...
His depressions were at least partly caused by this difficulty in adjusting..

Edited: the 'plane scandal' you mentioned had nothing to do with P. Claus... that was his father-in-law P.Bernhard (father of Beatrix)...
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  #267  
Old 04-17-2013, 02:18 PM
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Interesting comparison. There are indeed many similarities. E.g., Prince Claus also used to work as a diplomat before his marriage.
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  #268  
Old 04-17-2013, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Lee-Z View Post

Edited: the 'plane scandal' you mentioned had nothing to do with P. Claus... that was his father-in-law P.Bernhard (father of Beatrix)...
You are fully right, it was not Pcs. Clauss,
Buw for the rest, i insist, I have many times read that he was never appreciated by Dutch people
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  #269  
Old 04-17-2013, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by fandesacs2003 View Post
You are fully right, it was not Pcs. Clauss,
Buw for the rest, i insist, I have many times read that he was never appreciated by Dutch people
I'm sure you have read that, but as a dutch person myself, i can assure you that by the end of his life he was the most popular dutch royal, only person to come close was his daughter-in-law Maxima...

But he indeed was a diplomat and highly intelligent and suffered from depression like P.Masako, so maybe the dutch royals understand P.Masako's ordeal just a little bit better than some of us...
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  #270  
Old 04-18-2013, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vkrish View Post
Oh Chiara you are bringing so many new things to us which we never even imagined. I was totally thinking this is all just bcos of the boy-girl..
Thanks a lot ..Looking forward for more..
Thank you very much for your encouraging words!
Quote:
Originally Posted by casualfan View Post
That's the thing - a lot of this information is out there. But unfortunately a lot of people still criticize her for being, in essence, lazy or weak. I hope that real evidence and unbiased sources that tell the truth will convince them that what this woman has gone through is nothing short of torture. And then we wonder why she's ill.
I agree with you. But it is still not my intention to convince everybody. I just want to provide information for those who are interested in it. Although you are right with saying that all is "out there", it takes time and attention to gather the pieces and put them together, especially as there are people who are very interested in letting Masako appear as the guilty one and in ruining her reputation (and those people are doing an amazing job, so far... )
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee-Z View Post
But he indeed was a diplomat and highly intelligent and suffered from depression like P.Masako, so maybe the dutch royals understand P.Masako's ordeal just a little bit better than some of us...
I think that, too, and I am rather sure that Queen Beatrix wanted to make a statement by her invitation to the family in 2006. Besides, I do not think that it was by coincidence that on the photos, Masako was standing next to the queen...

Press report about the upcoming trip of the crown prince and princess to the Netherlands, shows pictures of the 2006 visit:



O. k., here we go with part two:

2. “Denial of personality”
When people hear that Masako is suffering from a stress-induced illness, they often suppose that she broke down because she was overworked. One could say, though, that the contrary is rather the case. After her wedding, Masako´s problem was basically not that she had too much work, but too little. The princess was used to a huge workload and she was also used to having to deal with a lot of responsibility, from a very early age on. At two years and a half, she was sent to a kindergarten in Moscow (her father was working there at the embassy) and learnt to talk Russian in but three months. Around that time, her twin sisters, Reiko and Setsuko, were born, and from then on, Masako – who was not even three years old – was “the big sister”. It frequently happened that their parents had to go out in the evening for professional reasons. In these cases, Masako would take care of her little sisters during her parents´ absence. (Masako with her little twin sisters)

In addition, she had always been used to a huge workload. At highschool she was nicknamed „Hardworker Masako“. After passing the notoriously difficult examination for diplomats, she joined the Japanese Foreign Ministry in 1987 and was sent to the University of Oxford as part of the ministry's training program. As women with her career record were still rare at the time, she was featured in the national media. By her collegues of the diplomatic service (who naturally were hard workers themselves) she was called: “the woman who does not need any sleep”. (Masako at work: 1 ** 2)

Quote:
A midlevel Japanese diplomat now in the United States remembers serving as the night-duty officer at the Foreign Ministry last year. At around 2 or 3 A.M., when he was sleeping in a small office, he was roused by a sharp knock on the door. Outside stood Owada. She had just completed an urgent report and needed to get it distributed. "Apart from me and the guards," he recalls, "she was the last one in the building." [...]
The New York Times

Miss Owada loved her work, and she turned down the crown prince several times because she did not want to stop working at the Foreign Ministry. The prince won her over by assuring that he did not want her to stop being who she was and doing what she did. To the contrary: she could help to foster international goodwill and friendship also as crown princess. In other words, she could remain a diplomat, just of a different kind. Naruhito´s idea did not seem far-fetched at the time. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko made 22 official visits to 42 countries during their time as crown prince and princess. It seemed logical to expect that Naruhito and Masako would do the same.

But after their first trip that the couple made in 1995 (to Kuwait, the United Arabian Emirates and Jordan – they were prematurely called back from it because of the Kobe earthquake) they would have to wait for more than 4 years before they would go abroad again (in 1999, to attend the Belgian wedding), and, after that, again 3 years would pass before their third, and so far, last official trip abroad, to Australia and New Zealand, took place in 2002. The crown prince informed the public in 2004, “Masako is anguished that she has hardly been allowed to visit foreign countries, although she gave up her career as a diplomat to join the imperial family. Masako has tried to adapt herself to the imperial household, but it looks to me that she's worn out. It is true that there was something that amounted to a denial of Masako's former career and personality built on that.”

Because of this statement of the prince, this one reason for Masako´s depression is rather commonly known. But what hardly anybody has ever heard about is that the issue was not just about foreign trips. From the mid-nineties on, also Masako´s engagements inside Japan were phased down. She had many ideas of how she could serve Japan within the country, but whenever she tried to initiate new projects, her actions were blocked. It was not the princess alone who felt frustrated. Together, the crown prince and princess time and again explained their ideas and vision, they indicated the general direction in which they wanted to proceed and asked their staff to come up with specific suggestions of how their plans could be realized. But, over and over again, their initiative was opposed or ignored. At last, the couple understood that the repeated negative answers to their requests could not be explained any longer by the fact that they were expected to concentrate their energies on the production of an heir. In order to make that kind of contribution that they were thinking of, it would not have been necessary for them to even leave Tokyo. But, increasingly, the duties the couple were scheduled for consisted solely in having to greet the volunteers who were cleaning the palace garden. So rarely were they seen in public that, at last, they were criticized by the media for always being „on holiday“ while the elderly emperor and empress took so much trouble to serve the nation...
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  #271  
Old 04-18-2013, 05:00 PM
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2. “Denial of personality”... continued:

That means, the stress Masako was under was not caused by overwork. The problem could rather be compared to that of an Olympic sprinter who is, all of a sudden, banned from moving at all. You probably know that this would not be but disagreeable and frustrating for such a person, but downright dangerous for his or her body. Of course, in Masako´s case you could argue that although it must have been hard and a severe shock in the beginning, after nearly 20 years, she should have gotten somewhat used to this state of royal inertia.

One has to admit that Masako has indeed a lot of practice in growing accustomed to a variety of new environments and new living conditions. She was born in Tokyo in 1963, went to live with her parents in Moscow when she was two and attended kindergarten there. Then her father, Hisashi Owada, became first secretary in the Japanese department of the UN. The family passed the next three years in New York, and Masako went there to school and learnt to speak English as her next foreign language, after Russian. When little Masako came home from school, her work was by far not done: the parents were concerned that their daughters should not lose contact with their native culture and saw to it that they practiced Japanese in their spare time. But in spite of all her efforts, Masako could, upon her return to Japan in 1971, not pass the entrance test to enter Denenchofu Futaba, a private girls' school in Tokyo, that her mother had already attended when she was a girl. So many things seemed new and unfamiliar to Masako in her birth country: She had no clue which year it was according to the Japanese calendar (Showa 46), and she piteously asked her mother why little girls who played with boys were being ridiculed in Japan? But after a year of private tutoring, Masako did the test again and was accepted. She staid there from elementary school through her second year of senior high school.

In 1979, her father became a guest professor at Harvard University and vice ambassador to the United States, so the family moved to Boston. The change was stressful for all of them. Father Hisashi had to hold his lectures in English, and was constantly busy with preparing for them. Masako´s little twin sisters had problems at school because they had forgotten a lot of their English. Their mother was permanently busy supporting and encouraging them. Also for Masako the change was by no means easy. But although she had problems as well, the problems of the other family members seemed so much more grave than hers. So, she made efforts to overcome her difficulties by herself. She spent most of her time by working for school. (That is how she got her nickname: “hardworker Masako”…) The trouble was well rewarded: on graduation from high school, she won a prize as one of the best pupils. Then she successfully took the entrance tests of several of the best universities in the US and could choose where she wanted to go. (She chose Harvard.)

Why do I recount this story? Because I want to show that Masako successfully adapted to various cultural environments, various institutions of education and even to a degree, to various value systems. At a very young age, she had experienced more changes than many other people experience in a lifetime, and she had not only survived the challenges but profited from them. There had always been one constant factor, though, one instrument she could always use and that would never let her down. When she was in trouble and did not know how to succeed, there was one last resort she could always cling to: hard work would always be rewarded.

But after Masako became crown princess, this one comforting sentence did not seem to hold true any more. For one thing, she was not given much work, at least not what she was used to call work. Most of the time, she was mainly expected to walk three steps behind her husband, smile and say as little as possible. (And after a few years had passed, most of the time not even that, as I have recounted above.) When she did have an opportunity to use her skills, she did not gain applause but rather criticism for showing them. You have probably heard the story of how she got herself into trouble at an official dinner on occasion of a G8-meeting, soon after her wedding: She was seated between then-presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin and chatted in fluent English and Russian with both. Far from being positively impressed, a royal watcher sourly commented, "The Imperial Family are not ambassadors. She doesn't need to be able to speak English, she has interpreters for that. Her job is to smile."

Masako sincerely tried to adapt to the new environment and and did her best to be a good crown princess. (1 ** 2 ** 3 ** 4 ** 5 ** 6 ** 7 ** 8 ** 9 ** 10) But it must have soon become shockingly clear to her that extraordinary efforts or skills were not being required. Nobody wanted her to work hard, in whatever way. It was quite sufficient most of the time if she was just there and looked nice. The only chance she had to prove herself a good crown princess was by falling pregnant. But, alas, this one thing was beyond her control. All her skills, her commitment and her hard work were completely useless. Nothing that she could do was wanted, and the only thing that was required of her she could not perform. If you consider this situation of hers, it is hardly surprising that, after just a few years, rumours were being heard of the crown princess being depressed. The feelings of complete powerlessness and incapacity must have been overwhelming. She was used to difficult situations. But she was not used to the thought that there was absolutely nothing she could do to change them, no matter how hard she tried. Accordingly, one could say that it is not so surprising that Masako would have fallen into depression, but rather, that this did not happen earlier.

Masato Kanda, a government official who went to the University of Tokyo and Oxford University with Masako, once said that the crown princess has „a natural sense of mission to contribute to Japan's diplomacy and help this country obtain an honorable position in the international community“. I think the princess as well as her husband are concerned because most young Japanese seem to be disinterested in the monarchy. Accordingly, the couple want to make efforts to keep the monarchy meaningful even to future generations. Masako´s doctors proposed already some years ago that arrangements should be made for the princess to engage in public duties where she could take advantage of the expertise and experiences she accumulated before her marriage. If she could feel herself useful again by taking up a social cause or helping disadvantaged children, this might have a healing effect on her condition.

Unfortunately, it is not very probable that this will happen. Conservatives want Japan´s imperial family to stay as it was -- remote, untouchable and mysterious, passive symbols of a mythical “Japaneseness”.

To be continued
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  #272  
Old 04-18-2013, 06:18 PM
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Oh what a sad story. Thank you, ChiaraC, for making it all so clear. I will continue to read your comments.
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Old 04-19-2013, 12:14 PM
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You are welcome, EllieCat! Thank you very much for saying that! I am very interested in this matter (I probably need not even say that because it is clear anyway... ) and would always try to get as much information regarding it as ever I could. But I would not necessarily write it down if I thought that nobody except myself wanted to know about it. So thank you for expressing your interest!

Your remarks prompt me to remind you all of the fact that I am answering here to vkrish´s question:
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Originally Posted by vkrish View Post
Does anyone have even a vague idea how they(IHA) "stress" her out?
I want to emphasize that I am mainly talking about “the bad and the ugly” in Masako´s life here because that is what the question requires. I agree in that there is quite sufficient of those things as to offer ample explanation for her condition (and sufficient as to depress not just one person, but rather two or three...) But of course, there are also good things in the life of Japan´s crown princess. Her husband and daughter naturally come to mind, first and foremost. But there was also Naruhito´s cousin, Prince Takamado, and his wife who went out of their way to make Masako welcome. (This also means, though, that Prince Takamado´s premature death in November 2002 was a severe blow for Masako, as well as for her husband. His sudden lacking must have been substantially felt in the isolated life of the crown prince and princess.)

Even the IHA is not all bad... Sadame Kamakura (Grand Steward of the IHA 1996 - 2001) diagnosed the imperial family with having a serious image problem. He came up with the idea to make use of Masako´s immense popularity in order to give the monarchy a new image that would fit better into modern times. It was, in all probability, he who promoted the plan to let the crown prince and princess take refuge in modern infertility treatments. Without Kamakura´s initiative, Aiko might have never been born.

I have mentioned these few random examples of good things and people in Masako´s life as crown princess, without making any claim to completeness. And now let´s go on with part three that is mainly about the IHA:

3. No privacy - even at home

Privacy problems of royals usually consist in that they cannot go into public without being chased by paparazzi. For Japanese royals, this problem is rather less serious, for several reasons, mainly because they hardly ever go out in the first place... (see part five below), but also because the Japanese media -- although it sometimes does get as bad as the Western press - - can sometimes be shamed into good behaviour, depending on the occasion. So, all in all, the invasion on privacy by the media is not as bad in Japan as it is, for example, in GB (which does not mean that it does not matter at all or cannot be devastating in the individual case, for example in the case of Masako´s first pregnancy).

But Japanese royals -- in particular the emperor and the empress as well as the crown prince and princess -- have a problem that is, in this extreme form, unknown to European royals: they are never by themselves, not even when they are in their own home. And when I say “not alone”, that is rather sort of an understatement...

In the household of the crown prince, there is a staff of around fifty people working. (With the Akishinos, incidentally, it is but around ten.) The crown prince and his family also use to have a lot of security around whenever they go out. Before every outing of theirs, staff people will be sent there first to check everything and make sure that the planning fits the locality. That means that there is absolutely no spontaneity possible in Naruhito´s and Masako´s life. Whenever they want to go anywhere, they have to say it days in advance, so everything can be planned and organized and when they finally leave, they take with them a huge crowd of people.

But, as I said, even if they stay home, they have hardly any privacy. Isamu Kamata, a friend of the crown prince and the emperor who takes part in their musical sessions, once said, “At all times, there are 5 to 10 servants surrounding Masako. She is watched all the time. If I were put in that situation, even I would suffer from neurosis.”

We should remember that all these people who use to be always around, are not friends or family members, but basically strangers. (And, also important to note: although they are formally of course subordinate to the crown princess, they are always in the majority...) Some of them predictably belong to the group I have already described in part one: they will never forgive the crown princess for not descending from Japan's former aristocracy, and for having had a professional career. It is already unsettling to know that these people are out there, and will write nasty articles about you if your behaviour should offer them the slightest pretext. But it is downright scary to imagine that the person who dresses you or takes up your phone calls or serves your meals may be one of them...

Also, members of the imperial family are surrounded at all times by a team of doctors who are responsible for their health. In Masako´s case, it could be supposed that, absurd as it may seem, this was one of the main reasons why her condition was, for a very long time, not taken seriously. Masako did inform her medical team that she was suffering from sleeplessness, fatigue and had serious problems to get up in the morning – typical symptoms of a depression as a look into a medical dictionary would tell you. But the doctors advice - who had no expertise regarding mental disorders - simply consisted in: “Take walks and think positive!” (which, as we all know, did not help at all... ) Although in Japan the treatment of mental illnesses is rather lacking behind, compared to other developed nations, I would suppose that any doctor from outside who Masako might have consulted would have taken her suffering more seriously. But as she already had the doctors at home, this was not thought necessary - until the crown prince publicly lost his temper...

Princes and princesses who are born into the imperial family are used from their early childhood to being surrounded by staff. But for born commoners it is hard. This became obvious after Masako´s first pregnancy in 1999 that ended with a miscarriage. There had been articles published about the princess´ pregnancy, before it had been officially announced. Even details of the princess´ monthly period had been leaked to the press, obviously by someone who had very intimate knowledge of her. As a result, Masako locked herself up in her room, communicated with staff members only by letters, sometimes even refused to eat. And when she did eat, no staff member was allowed to be present. (It took her a year to recover from the shock. That she was able to finally do it was, in great measure, due to her husband´s tender support.) It is obvious that Masako had no trust in the secrecy of her staff members - which is hardly surprising when there are so many. If there are just two or three persons, it would be possible to really get to know each other and build up a personal relationship – but with 10 or 15? Hardly.

I think it is safe to assume that the fact that the princess has to bear with the constant presence of so many people who are neither friends nor family members remains a source of permanent stress for her. Even if she seemingly puts up with the situation with a good grace, it is to be supposed that it does take its toll on her, and always will.

To be continued
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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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  #274  
Old 04-19-2013, 12:23 PM
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I think it is safe to assume that the fact that the princess has to bear with the constant presence of so many people who are neither friends nor family members remains a source of permanent stress for her. Even if she seemingly puts up with the situation with a good grace, it is to be supposed that it does take its toll on her, and always will.
I sympathize with her so much on that. I'm very much an introvert- when I socialize, I'm friendly and comfortable, but in order to do that, I need lots of time by myself or just with my boyfriend to recharge my batteries and feel good.

I would absolutely fall apart if I had to be surrounded by strangers all the time.
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Old 04-19-2013, 04:06 PM
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Why does the Emperor not do anything about this IHE? He is afterall the Emperor, the Head of the House and Family and all that happens within.
Though he and his wife seems kind and sweet people, I cannot imagine them being the puppets of their servants.
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Old 04-19-2013, 05:51 PM
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Thank you ChiaraC for all your very interesting informations.
I always felt lot of sympathy for Masako.What a shame too see such a brilliant woman treated that way.I hope all the best for her .
Unfortunatly,I am really pessimistic specially for little Aiko.Imo,the more she grow the more she appears less spontaneous and joyous.I remember,a picture of her with the whole family icluding her 3 cousins.
Everybody in the picture was looking at the little prince as if he was a precious gem.I felt so sorry for his 2 sisters et his cousin.

SLV has asked interesting questions,I hope someone has answers.
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Old 04-19-2013, 10:33 PM
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You are welcome, EllieCat! Thank you very much for saying that! I am very interested in this matter (I probably need not even say that because it is clear anyway... ) and would always try to get as much information regarding it as ever I could. But I would not necessarily write it down if I thought that nobody except myself wanted to know about it. So thank you for expressing your interest!

Your remarks prompt me to remind you all of the fact that I am answering here to vkrish´s question:
....
I would like to add my thanks to those of other board members for your insightful comments.Indeed, as mentioned elsewhere, the case of Crown Princess Masako is somewhat reminiscent of that of the Dutch Prince consort, but one has only consider that other diplomat, Henri de Monpezat to realize that not all diplomats have depressive tendencies. To this outsider, Japanese society seems very complicated and anti-feminist so that one can only wonder at the wasted talent on behalf of Japan represented by the Crown Princess and hope she finds happiness within her small family circle.Thank you for keeping us informed about the crown princess' situation.
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Old 04-20-2013, 12:11 AM
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It's just so sad and ironic. In just about every country in Europe Masako would have been considered perfect Princess material...brilliant, discreet, attractive, no dicey "past" to be cleaned up...good family with no neurotic/embarrassing members.

In fact she was probably way too well-educated and talented to have every been a good fit as Princess Consort in any country.
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Old 04-20-2013, 09:51 AM
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I would absolutely fall apart if I had to be surrounded by strangers all the time.
Yes, I absolutely feel the same. I could never live in the way the princess has to live. Period.

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Originally Posted by soraya View Post
Thank you ChiaraC for all your very interesting informations.
I always felt lot of sympathy for Masako.What a shame too see such a brilliant woman treated that way.I hope all the best for her .
Unfortunatly,I am really pessimistic specially for little Aiko.Imo,the more she grow the more she appears less spontaneous and joyous.I remember,a picture of her with the whole family icluding her 3 cousins.
Everybody in the picture was looking at the little prince as if he was a precious gem.I felt so sorry for his 2 sisters et his cousin.
Thank you for your support, Soraya!

I think it does not admit of a doubt that Aiko´s life is difficult. But she has good genes , and she knows that she has the full unconditional support of both of her parents, always. (pic)



Even if everybody in the family looks at Hisahito, Aiko knows full well that her parents are so very glad to have her, and would never have changed her for a boy, even if they could. I tend to think that, although her path won´t be easy, she will do something good with her life. I am looking forward to witnessing it.

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I would like to add my thanks to those of other board members for your insightful comments.
Thank you very much for your kind words!


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Originally Posted by Moonmaiden23 View Post
It's just so sad and ironic. In just about every country in Europe Masako would have been considered perfect Princess material...brilliant, discreet, attractive, no dicey "past" to be cleaned up...good family with no neurotic/embarrassing members.
You are right. But it seems to me (correct me if I am wrong) that Masako´s career before her marriage can, in many respects, be compared to that of Maxima. I think these two have a lot in common. (Maxima is lucky that she is not crown princess of Japan, though. She would have had to suffer, with three girls in a row...)
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Old 04-20-2013, 10:09 AM
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Why does the Emperor not do anything about this IHE? He is afterall the Emperor, the Head of the House and Family and all that happens within.
Though he and his wife seems kind and sweet people, I cannot imagine them being the puppets of their servants.
No, they are certainly not. But there are several factors to be considered:
  1. The emperor is a noble man whom I very much respect and admire. But he has a perspective on these things that notably differs from that any of us would entertain. Just as probably none of us can imagine what it actually means to be raised as the son of a “living god” until you are eleven, traumatically separated from your parents at age three, and constantly surrounded by numerous staff, so I suspect the emperor will never fully understand what it means to be free to move, to randomly stroll through the streets, looking here and there at shops and passersby, and be not permanently watched by a bunch of imperial minders. For him, it was already a huge step (and an experience he has never stopped being grateful for) that he and Michiko were allowed to raise their children by themselves.
  2. As you have seen if you have read part one (and as we will see again in part four), the emperor is operating in a situation that is politically very complicated. He has to carefully watch his steps and has to always ponder how far he can go without disgruntling too much the powers that be.
  3. The emperor and the crown prince disagree in a point that is fundamental for the monarchy. The crown prince wants to get closer to the people, he really wants to get into contact with them while the emperor (although he has made several steps in that direction, too) is afraid that this would finally lead to the destruction of the mystic aura of the imperial family. The crucial question is, are the Japanese o.k. with their royals being fallible? It is human to have a depression, to suffer from alcoholism (like Prince Tomohito) or to fail to get pregnant. It won´t happen but to Masako, imperfect things will happen again and again, even if imperial life should become less stressful one day. (Also Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden suffered from an eating disorder.) The problem gets more complicated by the fact that the answer is not the same for all Japanese. ''The Japanese imperial family is not in step with the times, with the perception of the new generation of citizens,'' said Toshiaki Kawahara, who has written many books on the imperial household. ''Unless they mix with the ordinary people, the imperial family will be forgotten.'' But there are also people in Japan – and they are very powerful, we have talked about them in part 1 - whose views of the emperor verge on the mystical. The granddaughter of wartime leader Tojo Hideki, Yuko, for example, believes that ‘Japan’ would cease to exist without the imperial family. “The emperor is a special existence,” she said. “He is not like normal people. The idea that he is a symbol of Japan as we have been taught in the postwar period is insulting. He is the essence of Japan.” A former Japan correspondent summed up the problem by saying that the secrecy of the IHA and the aloofness of the family certainly protect their “mystery”. “But no matter what we do the family will have to reform. And the more they reform the more the mystery will decline. That’s their dilemma.” Regarding how this dilemma should be solved, the emperor and the crown prince entertain different views. More about this subject is to be found here: “A god becomes human” and “Mystic symbol”. (These are part of a summary of a book about Princess Masako that I have written for this forum some years ago.)
  4. In my post # 275, I told you that Sadame Kamakura, Grand Steward of the IHA, planned to make use of Masako´s immense popularity in order to give the monarchy a new image. He proposed to give her more opportunities to appear in public. (As I recounted in part two, she did not have that many, end of the nineties.) This did not come to pass, however, because the emperor and empress did not appreciate this idea. Kamakura, according to rumors, was getting along rather badly with the empress. She had been "not at all amused" by his critical words (regarding the “serious image problem”). Instead of allowing the already too popular Masako to “step into the limelight”, the emperor and the empress began to undertake more public duties themselves. The reasons for this are to be found in what I have said here about the different views of the emperor and the crown prince, but also to some degree in human jealousy. (For more, please see “Jealousy” and “Strong characters”.)
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