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ChiaraC 02-27-2008 10:55 AM

A German book about Crown Princess Masako
I want to share with you excerpts from a German book about CP Masako. I have got nearly all of my information about the imperial family from that book but I only recently realized that you here in this forum cannot have that same information because the book is as far as I can see only available in German. (A lot of books here in Germany, especially about international issues, are simply translations of English books, I had not especially paid attention to the authors and so I presumed that it had been the same in this case.)
I really think its contents are worth sharing because the authors are trying to give an explanation for the conflicts in the imperial family that to me seems very interesting and convincing. As you can already suppose from the title (Prinzessin Masako – Der gefangene Schmetterling: Princess Masako – The encaged butterfly, from 2005) they are very compassionate upon Masako. They say that they got a lot of information from friends of Masako and Naruhito who did not get the couple´s official permission to talk to journalists but who are so concerned and worried about the situation that they decided to give them anonymously the information they have. That the authors really got their information from these friends, of course, is something that they cannot prove under the circumstances, we have to believe it (or not). From my point of view, I can say that neither the style of the book nor the contents give the impression of yellow press. One of the authors, Martin Fritz, is a German journalist who lives in Tokio and works for a German public TV station, ARD, and they are usually supposed to be "serious" and to not invent things to make a story. (Of course there are many differences but to give you an idea: they have a reputation a bit like BBC.) They definitely have a reputation to lose if one of them tells nonsense. So I really suppose he should be creditable. The other author, Yoko Kobayashi, works as a free journalist in Tokio.
But although the authors end their book with the hope that Masako will be able to leave her cage (which does NOT mean: her position as crown princess) and will be set free to use her abilities and enchant Japan and the rest of the world they are taking a lot of trouble to make the position and opinion of the emperor and empress understandable, also for Western people. (They basically see it as a conflict between generations in the imperial family, they do not think that the IHA as an institution has much power left – I will give more details about this in the future as this point has been discussed in this forum already with much dedication.) And they suceeded in making at least me aware of the fact that there really IS a conflict that cannot be solved that easily, that it is a conflict that is not only their personal familiar issue but that represents conflicts that strongly exist within the Japanese society and that the solution to them can never be that simple as to just make one side wrong and declare them to be the "bad guy".
I will start by giving you excerpts and resumés from the sixth chapter because it is there that they explain their view of the conflict. (It will take me some time because it has 60 pages so although I hope that you are interested in my translations I also hope that you will be patient with me.)

mrsbugman 02-27-2008 11:55 AM

Thank you ChiaraC. I am looking forward to reading your overview. As a small child on a military family we lived in Japan. I don't remember it, but I love looking at the old pictures.

zinzen 02-27-2008 12:22 PM

Thank you ChiaraC to do that for us

ChiaraC 02-28-2008 09:51 AM

The “Naru-chan-constitution”, Part I
Thank you very much for your support!
I will always do the translations at home and then go to an internet café to post them. So usually there will be probably a big break and then a lot of stuff all at once! :smile: Here we go with the first three parts.

The “Naru-chan-constitution”, Part I

It has been said that the relationship between the emperor and empress and their second son and daughter is much better than their contact with their first son. It seems to me that the reasons for this can be found in the early childhood of the crown prince whose education has been very different from that of his siblings. And so I will start by giving some information from the book concerning it and by explaining some aspects of it to non-German readers.

The authors of “Princess Masako” say that the empress gave herself a lot of trouble to let her eldest son – as the future emperor – have the very best education that was possible. So she collected information about the “modern” ways of educating children. She read a book written by the American Dr. Benjamin Spock and she relied on the educating diary of her mother whose principles based on the so called “German method”. “Fumiko Shoda had passed one year in Germany because of her husband´s job and had been watching how children there were raised in a special way to support their autonomy.”

I have to add some information here to the contents of the book I am resuming as I cannot suppose that non-German readers would already know this: I do not know when exactly Michiko´s mother had been in Germany but I am sorry to say that she obviously had picked up educating principles from the nazis… The nazi theory of education underlines that a child has to be taught right from the beginning who is the master in the family. (That sounds like a system how to educate slaves, I know. But not accidentally…) To give only one example, a child has to be fed regularly every four hours. If they cry before that time they´ll be left to cry until the right time. If they sleep longer they have to be woken and fed if they want it or not. Mothers were told that for the best of their children they had to rigidly suppress their compassion with their children´s suffering, otherwise they would spoil their child and he or she would be - when grown up - unfit for society and probably become a criminal or a beggar…

Unfortunately, I must say that, in my opinion, Michiko and her mother would better have stuck to their Japanese traditions… Although - as far as I know - traditional Japanese parents also appreciate discipline and expect children to conform to the rules they usually will make allowances for young children´s not being able to conform to rules that they don´t have the age and capacity to even understand. Traditional Japanese parents would probably not have been so paranoid as to suppose that a two-month-old who is crying only three hours after having been fed is trying to take over absolute control in the family and to reign supremely henceforth. They probably simply would have assumed that he is hungry…

I am very sure that Michiko meant very well (and how could she have doubted her mother´s principles anyway) but, as we know, west is not always best… The German education “to further autonomy” of that time either totally crushes a personality, makes children frightened, timid and unable to speak their mind (very comfortable indeed for a leader who wants unlimited power…), or, if it is a child with a very strong will, it creates a sort of “partisan mentality”: “I will survive against all odds and endure all hardships and I will always be alone.” It destroys or endangers the ability to communicate, to make friends, to freely express one´s emotions, to share with others the weaker, softer, more tender parts of oneself, and so very successfully creates (outward) conformity and (inside) freezing loneliness and isolation.

I think it is not difficult to see these effects in Naruhito. He is a strong character and has chosen the ”partisan” way but I think it is obvious that he is not expressing all of himself spontaneously and easily, especially not in the past. Before he married he was “the good, dutiful boy” (although maybe, unfortunately, a bit boring…). He never was the charming, attractive one - that was his brother´s role. I wonder if he (subconsciously probably) was not also talking of himself when he said that it had been tried to suppress Masako´s personality. It had also been tried (although unknowingly and with the best of intentions) to suppress his own emotional personality. And now he was stepping up to the plate and breaking free in order to protect himself and the one person who had succeded in opening his heart and warming his emotions…

ChiaraC 02-28-2008 09:57 AM

The “Naru-chan-constitution”, Part II
However that may be, according to Fritz and Kobayashi, Michiko put all the new principles for the education of Naru-chan together in a booklet and gave it to all the servants who had to take care of the crown prince. They used to call it the “Naru-chan-constitution”. According to these rules, the prince should be fed by the clock und should not be caressed or carried around, except if that was necessary for practical reasons. If he threw down things (as probably all little children do), he had to pick them up himself. When he lost his balance and fell down he had to get up by himself, without help. He had to sleep alone and, whenever possible, play alone. Sometimes he was locked up in his room, then on his door would be written: “Time to play alone.” and nobody was allowed to enter. If he did anything wrong, for example played with his food, he was beaten, had to stand by himself in the garden or was locked up in a dark closet (all of which happened regularly).

Fritz and Kobayashi continue by stating that the parents certainly meant well. His siblings had it much easier, they lived with their parents like in a commoner´s family – something that was absolutely new for children of the Emperor of Japan. They probably grew up with more freedom and personal contact than any imperial princes and princesses before them had ever experienced. But with Naruhito it was another story. He had a special position and had to get a special education. Fritz and Kobayashi quote Michiko who said shortly after Naruhito´s birth: “This is the child who will be the future tenno. That means that he is a treasure of the people and of God that is given into my hands. I am not allowed to look upon him as my son.”

She taught him to suppress his feelings and avoid showing any preferences among his schoolfriends. He had to treat them all equally. (His father Akihito had been also raised in a rather harsh way and had been separated from his mother and family at the age of three which had been an traumatic experience as he later told Michiko. But he had not been denied the right to choose the friends he preferred.) As long as Naruhito was in primary school he entertained the (among children not uncommon…) habit of turning back and waving farewell to his mother when he was leaving for school. When he left primary school to pass on to the next level his mother gave him to understand that this habit had to be stopped now. No turning back and waving anymore. Too childish and emotional. That, again, did not mean that she did not love him. When he was 14 years old she proudly said in public: “I can only say that he is a valuable existence for me.”

In a certain way this education was absolutely successful. Fritz and Kobayashi state that although the price the crown prince had to pay for it were loneliness and a nearly complete incapacity to express emotions (as one of his teachers remarked with concern) the “good boy” Naruhito was set up as an example to their children by mothers all over Japan. He himself never complained. “He accepted that this was his life.” But he had a very strong will and when he grew older he learned to use patience if he had no other way to do or to get things that he thought absolutely necessary and just to never, never, never give up. (We have to admit, I think, that these are definitely valuable qualities for an emperor.) Later on, as we already know, he made use of this ability to get the woman he wanted. But, as Fritz and Kobayashi point out, he had showed it before several times. While still being in school he wanted to take part in a “committee for social problems” in which the pupils did (unpaid) social work. His parents were not enthusiastic and at first said a strict “No”. Michiko remarked that between welfare and hypocrisy there was only a very fine line. But Naruhito carried his point and took part. Later he insisted on studying history at an independent university (in Japan). That was not thought suitable for a member of the imperial family: He might have been taught a too independent view of the tenno and the part he had played in history. But Naruhito insisted and took the subject he wanted.

Later on, he went to Oxford to continue his studies. This time, according to Fritz and Kobayashi, he did not need his strong will to get there. His father Akihito had always entertained the opinion that Japanese people should go and see foreign countries to “enrich their humanity”. He was sorry that he himself never had had this opportunity and was very happy that his son should have it. And it was in England that Naru-chan who had from his earliest age got an education that had been especially designed to make him autonomous found his real autonomy: he closely watched the way in which the English people are dealing with the issues of tradition and modernism – Oxford with its vital tradition was already a good place to satisfy this sort of interest. And he paid a lot of attention to the way in which the British royal family was trying to keep up tradition - for the people and by staying in contact with the people whose everyday life is, of course, constantly undergoing change. The prince was highly impressed.

When he came back to Japan, Fritz and Kobayashi report, he declared it to be a lifelong task for himself to bring the good sides of the English monarchy to Japan. What especially fascinated him was the close contact of the royals to the people. He was definitely convinced that the imperial family as well as the Japanese people could gain a lot by getting closer to each other. The imperial family should not longer be a mere symbol, somewhere up there, they should turn from passively “being” to actively “doing” and so help their people in a more effective way.

Unfortunately, this vision - that had made him feel that his life had a purpose that was worth fighting for and worth to make use of the patience and “partisan qualities” his education had given him - was finally meant to put him in opposition to his parents who at first had sent him out and let him go to find it…

ChiaraC 02-28-2008 09:59 AM

A mission together
After having come back from England the prince tried to put his new ideas into action at once, as Fritz and Kobayashi report: when he drove around in his car he did no longer let the traffic lights be turned to green especially for him. (That had been the custom for members of the imperial family to spare them the plebeian waiting - side by side with commoner´s cars!) And he attended in Tokio´s red light district Kabukicho the musical “A chorus line”. Scandalous for a future tenno! The good boy Naruhito who had been set up as an example for all the naughty Japanese children became “a second hope for Japan”, as a journalist remembers. “At that time we had the dream that the crown prince would bring the beginning of a new era for the monarchy.” But all these hopes were soon quenched. After a short time, no extraordinary news could be heard any longer from the crown prince.

Fritz and Kobayashi tell us that it was never known in public why. But it is to be supposed that Naruhito´s modern ideas met with a conservative resistance that not even his stubbornness could overcome. At least, it seemed so for several years. But Naruhito was working on it. While everybody thought that he was looking for a woman to give him an heir he was secretly looking for an ally who could help him to make his vision become reality… When he met Masako he knew from the first moment that he had found what he had been looking for. When he could not convince her of his plans he still stubbornly refused to comply with the IHAs proposals to just take another woman. An ex-teacher of him, Hamao, said about him, according to Fritz and Kobayashi: “His opinion is very clear, independent if the IHA consents to it or not.” And a friend of his, Isamu Kamata, remembers: “ The prince chose with a very clear purpose a princess who would be able to bring those new elements that are necessary for the new imperial house.”

He not only married Masako for love, he married her also, according to Fritz and Kobayashi, because they would be able to do together something useful for their country. And it was this what finally convinced Masako. When she decided to marry Naruhito she was still not passionately in love with him. Basically, she married him for two reasons: she felt strong affection and deep respect for him. And she felt that it could be her life mission to serve her country as crown princess. From the beginning of their life together, again and again, they discussed ways how to best serve their country, how to deal with the old and the new and they tried to develop new views of the role of the tenno. They never saw themselves as revolutionaries.

I quote: “Naruhito simply wanted to unite the “live and let live of the traditional and the modern aspects”, as he had seen it in Oxford. Naruhito and Masako are not of the opinion that old and new contradict each other and they think it quite possible for them to coexist. The prince accordingly sees his task in the future in the following way: “While carefully dealing with the tradition that has been handed down from generation to generation for a very long time I want to take up activities that fit into the image of a monarchy in the 21st century.” His patriotic wife who is very aware of her mission does not want to disrespect or ignore the tradition any more than he. Neither Masako is a radical reformer. “To the contrary”, says a friend, “she never had the intention to change Japan or the imperial family. A lot of people who have never lived in a foreign country cannot understand this: Masako has seen Japan from the outside and only wants to do what is necessary for the country.” “ Fritz and Kobayashi quote Masako with the following words: “I think it important to always perceive, reflect and sensitively feel: what is essential, which value is important and in which direction Japan and the world are moving.”

To be continued.

Sleeping Beauty 02-28-2008 12:25 PM

It's very interesting. Thanks a lot, ChiaraC. :flowers:

kimebear 02-28-2008 12:49 PM

This is a very interesting perspective. Thank you for taking the time to share it with us.:flowers:

Vanesa 02-29-2008 03:40 PM

Yes. I think that modern and traditional ways doesn't contradict each other NECESSARILY. But some modern ways does contradicts tradition and vice-versa.

I think that when you educates yourself in a different country than yours, you could see things that had marveled you as wonderful. And they really must be: in OTHER countries, with other history and traditions. So, these "wonderful innovations" could be great for some societies, and not for the one you are born in. Princes that educates themselves in some foreign Western countries must be careful when they tries to imitates particularities they've seen there.


ChiaraC 03-03-2008 08:52 AM

The vision becomes reality – not
I am glad that you are interested in the information the book gives. It is in this book that my own interest concerning the imperial family had its origin and so I am really glad to share with you. Here we go for the next three parts:

In the beginning all went well. Only one month after her wedding, as Fritz and Kobayashi report, Masako attended a meeting of 7 economically leading countries of the world and Russia. The meeting took place in Tokio in the month of July 1993. Without the help of a translator she charmingly communicated in English, French, Russian and German. At dinner she was seated between Bill Clinton and Boris Jelzin who seemed to be very impressed by her person and talents.

The first trip abroad followed in November 2004. Together with her husband she visited Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain. She professionally dealt with the fact that for the most part she had to manage her task without having her husband at her side and impressed everybody by her fluent English. Prince Naruhito proudly remarked when talking to journalists during the trip: "Honestly speaking I have the impression that Masako has done a very good job."

Only two months later the couple was scheduled to visit Kuwait, the United Arabian Emirates and Jordan. Only three days before their departure 6400 persons were killed by a violent earthquake near Kobe. Naruhito and Masako as well as the IHA were uncertain if they should cancel the trip because of the national tragedy. But although the IHA and the imperial family are involved in the planning of foreign visits (that usually begins two years in advance) and have a choice in the "who should go?" , as Fritz and Kobayashi point out, they cannot decide to which country they want to go and when, or as in this case, if at all. These decisions are politics, and after the Second World War the Emperor had once for all lost the right to ever meddle in political matters again. So, in this case Masako and Naruhito had no option. This trip had been put off already two times, and the countries of that region are very important for Japan because of their oil. The government decided that they had to go, and only when it began to be openly critized in Japan that the heir of the throne and his wife were travelling abroad while their people were suffering, they were called back.

That was Masako´s first failure and it was for a long time her last – because for the following eight years she did not get another opportunity to represent her country abroad. I quote: "While her family – the emperor and empress, prince Fumihito and his wife Kiko and princess Sayako – travelled to foreign countries twice and thrice as much as usual, Masako and Naruhito stayed in Japan. That was not easy to understand, as Naruhito had been abroad on average once a year while he had been still single. And the emperor and empress themselves had in their own time as crown prince and crown princess made 22 visits to 42 countries for representative reasons."

At first, Naruhito and Masako did not know why they staid at home. The next they discovered was that whatever the reason for this might be it certainly was not because nobody had asked for them. The French president Jacques Chirac had openly declared that he would be very interested to meet princess Masako – Masako got to knew this through a TV channel where this wish was mentioned. She had never known before that there had been an invitation for her nor that it had been declined, let alone the reasons for this. In the end she got at least part of the answer through one of her old contacts to the foreign office. She was told that there had been several requests from various countries for her and her husband that had always been declined. Fritz and Kobayashi talked to an executive from the foreign office concerning this matter who told them: "The responsibles of the IHA always said that the requests for the crown prince and the crown princess had to be declined. They explained that these politics were necessary to set the couple free to concentrate on the production of an heir."

It is unknown if Masako ever got this blunt official confirmation herself but she and Naruhito soon must have suspected as much. And they also must have suspected that this decision must have come from "high up", from the emperor and empress themselves. Fritz and Kobayashi have heard from someone who has insider information about the monarchy: "It is not imaginable that the IHA decided alone, without the consent of the emperor and empress, to stop the trips abroad."

I will below (see "The kunaicho") give more details concerning what Fritz and Kobayashi explain about the IHA and its loss of power in the last decades. Here I will only say that they state that while the late Showa-Tenno, Hirohito, never meddled with the dealings of the IHA and just concentrated on his own role, the present emperor and empress actively make use of the kunaicho as an instrument to realize their own ideas, and that they insist to be informed about all official matters that concern the members of the imperial family. The executives of the IHA can do or say nothing against the will of the emperor.

ChiaraC 03-03-2008 09:00 AM

Three good reasons for staying at home…
From the point of view of the emperor and the empress their decision was again well meant. There were several reasons for it: As already mentioned, it usually takes two years to plan and prepare a trip abroad. But it was impossible to know in advance if on the scheduled date the crown princess would (finally!) be pregnant. The trip might have to be cancelled which would have been a shame and disagreable for everybody concerned, or, if not cancelled, it might be bad for her health or for that of her child.

This fear turned out to be not wholly without reason: Fritz and Kobayashi report that Masako only one day before her departure to Belgium in December 1999 had made a pregnancy test which was positive. Naruhito and Masako and their surrounding considered to cancel the journey. But everything was already prepared. They did not have time to reflect. "And, moreover, Naruhito´s friend, the Belgian crown prince Philippe, would have been very disappointed: Naruhito and Philippe have the same age and had promised each other while still being bachelors to attend the wedding of the other." And the executives of the crownprince´s household warned that if this trip was cancelled the pregnancy might be become prematurely public. So they took a bitter decision and went on this trip. The emperor and empress were not informed of this because it was clear that under these circumstances they would never have allowed Masako to leave.

It was never known if the miscarriage that followed could have been prevented if Masako would have stayed at home. The doctor who took care of her during her miscarriage said no. (But, of course, we don´t know why he said that. Wouldn´t have helped to blame anybody afterwards…)

So, the first reason the imperial couple had for their proceeding was certainly a good one. The second one also was kindly meant: they wanted to spare their daughter-in-law from the bitter feeling of being a hindrance and of having to give trouble to her husband or to a foreign country if a trip had to be cancelled because of her pregnancy. And they wanted to spare her from having to leave her child only a short time after having given birth. Michiko knew from her own experience how painful this could be: Michiko should have gone to the US with her husband when Naruhito was only three months old. The head of the IHA, Takeshi Usami, tried to avert this but he could only put it off: when Naruhito was seven months Michiko had to accompany her husband to the US. Michiko lost 22 lb of her weight during this stressful trip. But when she got home she still did not get much rest: only one month after their return she and her husband were sent to visit Iran, Ethiopia, India and Nepal… (If you know this story, it is, in my opinion, quite understandable that Michiko did not think it such a sacrifice to stay at home for a while. I will come to the point of non-communication between the couples later in more detail but it seems to me that maybe not the conflict but at least much bitterness on both sides could have been prevented if they only would have laid open their thoughts and wishes and reasonings to each other.)

The third reason of the imperial couple was that they thought that the birth of an heir to the throne was a matter of life and death to the monarchy. What significance could it have - compared to this very important issue - if the French president was charmed by a Japanese princess or not?

But that was again, at least to a certain extent, a misunderstanding. True, Masako had said before her first official trip abroad after the long break (to Australia and Newsealand, December 2002) how hard it had been for her not to be able to visit foreign countries for such a long time – a remark for which she was blamed as thoughtless and egotistical. A friend of her explains: "She is not someone who knows to speak well in public. She only talked about visits abroad because people expect her, according to her perception, to do her share for Japan to further international friendship." Another friend says, according to Fritz and Kobayashi: "What she wanted to say exactly by that was that she is not allowed to do what she really wants to do. Her concern is not only the growth of international friendship, she also has a lot of ideas what she wants to do for Japan within the country."

Fritz and Kobayashi say that Masako is willing to sacrifice herself but that she is not willing to do this in a solely passive way. Her parents had taught their three daughters that it was the duty of every citizen to serve the society they belonged to in an active and effective way and that it did not make any difference if the citizen in question was male or female (a view that still IS uncommon in Japan). "Actually, Masako´s sister Reiko works at present for the UN, and Setsuko is after long years undergoing a training with the Japanese company Honda in the US whose business is the production of cars and motorbikes."

Now, their eldest sister Masako seemed to be stuck in a place where it was impossible to realize what they had been taught to do. I quote: "But also her (Masako´s) schedule for inside-Japan-activities was more and more reduced. If she tried to initiate new projects her actions were blocked. Often and oftener the prince´s duties (this is not a fault in my spelling, they do speak of Naruhito here who was blocked as well as his wife) consisted in greeting the volunteers who were cleaning the palace garden and in thanking them. The couple so rarely was seen in public that at some point Masako and Naruhito even heard critique: why they always were on recreation while the elderly emperor and empress took so much trouble to serve the people."

ChiaraC 03-03-2008 09:04 AM

The kunaicho
The kunaicho was founded already in the year 701. Already at that time, its executives were members of the highest nobility, and much later, during meiji-time, the kunaicho became the most powerful institution of modern Japan. 1945 meant a deep fall also for the IHA. It lost its traditional significance and power and with them it lost its attraction for the most ambitious and talented Japanese. But in the time of Akihito´s father there were still some strong personalities serving in the IHA, like Takeshi Usami (remember, he is the one who tried to save Michiko from having to go to the US shortly after Naruhito´s birth) who was for 25 years head of the kunaicho.

According to Fritz and Kobayashi, he was a good example of the old type of imperial executive who had been rather a counsellor than a servant and who also had had the courage to say things that the emperor might not like to hear if he, the executive, thought that this was necessary for the benefit of the monarchy. Fritz and Kobayashi even think that if there had been still a man of this type in the kunaicho the conflict between the crown prince and the emperor might not have taken such a very harsh form. This traditional sort of executive had a very vital interest in the welfare of the tenno as a person as well as as an institution which also includes the welfare of the members of the imperial family.

But the executives of the IHA nowadays do not stay there for more than two or three years. It is not attractive for them, as Fritz and Kobayashi explain, because most ministries entertain contacts with some of the big japanese companies. And when the executives retire on pension which they usually do rather early they have a good chance to get a nice position in one of those companies… But the kunaicho does not have any contacts of that sort, so nobody wants to be there. An old ex-executive who has been working for the kunaicho nearly all his life complains: "Many are grateful if everything goes smoothly, if the traditions remain unchanged. Their mentality is: never be absent from your work, never be late and do nothing, be passive." They do not want to get into trouble, they do not want to take a risk, and so they do what the emperor and the empress tell them to. The prince has no significance for them. When his time of power will have come they will, in all probability, already be somewhere else…

To be continued

Vanesa 03-03-2008 03:20 PM

An interesting point of view. However, I think that we must be careful when we are speaking about another culture wich is not ourself. Judging another people's mental attitudes and such , only for we are seeing from the outside it's not the better we can do.

Culture is also something that we don't see, that isn't in display and remains in our mentality. We can do something...but people would don't know why are we doing this. :brows:


tan_berry 03-03-2008 08:39 PM

Very interesting, ChiaraC, thank you. :flowers:

tricia 03-03-2008 10:56 PM

There is another one, by Ben Hills, that I got from the library: "Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne".

kimlan 03-04-2008 12:23 PM

Thank you very much ChiaraC. I believe the Fritz and Kobayashi's book are well inform. It would help us to understand how the spirit of Naruhito and Masako have been crushed by their own government system. Political power that's it.

Vanesa 03-04-2008 04:00 PM


Originally Posted by tricia (Post 736902)
There is another one, by Ben Hills, that I got from the library: "Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne".

I don't remember exactly in wich of our"Royal Forums" we've discussed it, but I think that we have discussed Ben Hills's book here, in Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako's one.


tricia 03-05-2008 09:42 PM

It's been awhile since I've been on here...I am so sorry.

PadThaiPrincess 03-05-2008 10:36 PM

This is very interesting information since the Japanese Royals are not as "public" as other Reigning Houses.

ChiaraC 03-06-2008 10:45 AM

Too much consideration
Thank you for giving me your feedback! As I am the one doing the translation, of course, most of the talk in this thread will probably be mine. ;) But I am very glad to see that there are people in this forum reading it, with approval or dissent, but in any case, obviously with some interest. Thank you! And now I will proceed to the next part of the summary:

But how could the situation have gone to such extremities as to make the crown prince and the crown princess feel paralyzed by the emperor and empress in every movement they wanted to make?

They had been so full of hope in the beginning. In their first press conference Naruhito had declared optimistically: “There is already a story at the imperial court that happened approximately 30 years ago that the emperor and the empress lived through. Because of that I do not believe that Ms Masako will have to give herself too much trouble.” And Masako had said, according to Fritz and Kobayashi, how very encouraged she had felt by the message of the emperor and the empress, given to her by the prince, saying that they would kindly receive her in the palace.

And this impression had been quite correct, as Fritz and Kobayashi point out. Michiko too well remembered the horrible beginnings of her own career as crown princess and wanted to spare her daughter-in-law – or any daughter-in-law of hers – from having to experience this ordeal. And with Kiko this plan had already worked very well. Michiko had supported her first daughter-in-law during her first pregnancy and had told her stories from her own experience with having and raising children. Shortly before Kiko gave birth Michiko said affectionately: “I have not taught her anything special. It has only been my wish that she will be able to healthily see the day on which she is to become a mother.”

And when Mako was born Kiko still took advice from her mother-in-law as Fritz and Kobayashi explain: when in her younger days Michiko had to go on trips abroad she had before her departure recorded cradle songs she had sung on musical tapes for Naruhito to listen to while his mother was absent. Kiko prepared for her daughter video tapes with scenes from their family life for the same purpose. Whenever Michiko got to see her grandchild “her heart was quite full”. So, a close and trusting contact grew between the two couples in which also the emperor´s daughter, Sayako, who still lived with her parents was included. And the birth of Kako strengthened this affectionate contact even more.

When Naruhito and Masako joined this circle they were, according to Fritz and Kobayashi, from the beginning a bit of intruders. And Masako probably never took part in the very informal social among the female members of the imperial family: Kiko and Sayako had grown good friends and often had private meetings to prepare cakes or cookies together. Sometimes Michiko joined them. Already before Masako´s marriage these three women had been very close to each other. Of course, there is no official information that says why Masako was not included in this as soon as she joined the imperial family but the reasons are not so hard to guess: Michiko, Kiko and Sayako did not meet privately for official reasons or because they saw it as their duty. They just liked being together because they felt the very common human wish to be with others with like mind, with the same interests, with the same view on life. They felt relaxed and easy in each other´s presence, they felt safe from meeting opposition or creating misunderstandings. They were among equals, and they met to share “girl´s stuff”.

But Masako was not the person who could easily become part of this sort of “traditional female”-exchange. Her purpose in life – to serve her country – was a traditionally male purpose (and she accordingly shared it with her husband) and this purpose originally did not even include in it to have a family of her own. With the other women it was just the other way round: they were serving their husbands in the first place and by doing that they served their country. (Sure, Sayako at that time did not have a husband of her own but – and this is not from the book but a thought of mine: if you know this context it can hardly be a surprise that it was Kiko who helped her in time to get one.) True, they all had been at universities but all of them had chosen traditionally “female” subjects: Michiko English literature, Sayako Japanese literature and Kiko psychology - while Masako up until her joining the imperial family had in many respects led the life of a Japanese male. So, it is to be supposed that both parties did not feel so relaxed and easy in the presence of the other as to make regular informal meetings very desirable for any of them.

So, Masako as well as Naruhito who also was occupying a rather isolated position in his family that dated from his childhood were right from the beginning a bit “handicapped”. Of course, both were nevertheless made welcome in the family circle. And maybe the “intruders” in spite of everything could have turned into “insiders” in time. There certainly was in the beginning much good will on all sides. If the new couple had had a child to bring with them whose sweetness and spontaneity quite naturally would have melted down the walls of polite formalities in which grown ups are enclosed it might well be that they themselves finally would have become an integral part of the circle.

But Masako´s belly continued being as slim and trim as it had been from the beginning - until the others began to pity the couple. When Naruhito and Masako came to visit all talking about children was tactfully avoided. Nobody spoke of their worries. The compassion and concern they all felt was expressed by a very polite silence.

Naruhito and Masako, of course, soon felt this awkwardness. They were afraid to disturb the obviously easy and informal interaction of the others. Even more so, as for a visit of the crown prince to the emperor there are a big lot of formalities to be complied with. Every visit has to be initiated by a written request and has to be organized and prepared by the executives on duty. Crown prince and emperor do not live in the same area, so the crown prince has to leave his own place and go by car through the crowded streets of Tokyo. 30 bodyguards accompany and protect the family of the crown prince. Prince Akishino, on the other hand, has it much easier. He is just one more member of the imperial family, not THE CROWNPRINCE (the “togu” in Japanese, he has his own special title like the tenno). There are only one or two bodyguards on duty to protect his family so he is much more at liberty to move spontaneously.

And so the visits of crown prince and crown princess to the emperor became rare and rarer. Not only the emperor and the empress, Fumihito, Kiko and Sayako kept their silence - neither the crown prince or the crown princess ever spoke of their worries, of their longing for a child. The others could not have helped them anyways, so why should they trouble them? Both had grown up in a way that taught them not to talk about their problems and solve them themselves, or if that was not possible to bear them silently. (When Masako had been two and a half years old her twin sisters had been born. Her father at the time was working for the Japanese embassy in Moscow. Only two months before the birth of her sisters Masako had began to go to a public kindergarten where she very fast learnt to speak Russian – it must have been a very impressing experience: she started talking Russian also in her sleep… Her parents often had to be absent in the evenings for professional reasons, and Masako, hardly more than a toddler herself, took care of her baby sisters with a skill and sense of duty that is not typical for this age.)

And so the connection that had been began by both parties with so much optimism and good will became something that could not be called to be much more than a mere form behind which disappointment, pain and anger gradually found a good soil to nurture them… The more problems they had with each other and the more necessary it would have been for them to openly talk about their worries the more powerful became the reign that silence had taken over them. Up to a point at which the only way in which they seemingly still could communicate was by press conferences…

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