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Incoming emperor's life filled with breaks from tradition

39 Comments
By Elaine Lies

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Unique in becoming the first Japanese emperor in modern times to not to have a son, Naruhito has been devoted to his daughter Aiko, now 17, and has advocated for men becoming more hands-on fathers - still uncommon in conservative Japan.

Attempting to lead, in his own manner, by example! The lack of men being "hands-on-fathers" is one of the BIGGEST reasons, in my own opinion, that women don't want to get married and have children here!

I wish him and his family the best!

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Right. Here's how he wooed her "Wanna be empress some day?" "Sure!"

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

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JT: Crown Prince Naruhito ... wooed and won his ex-diplomat wife, Crown Princess Masako, with a pledge to protect her.

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Come again !?

WHAT / WHO is he going to "protect" her from?

They live a gilded existence.

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-10 ( +4 / -14 )

I cringe when I read anything that comes out of the imperial places press. This image is literally a photo shoot.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

@ semperfi - protect her from ever having to work again or having a budget to worry about

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Right. Here's how he wooed her "Wanna be empress some day?" "Sure!"

Spot on.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

@ semperfi - protect her from ever having to work again or having a budget to worry about

Seems we agree quite a bit.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

The Imperial Household Agency will remain ever present to ensure the traditions of hundreds of years remain in place and are followed and obeyed. He can't escape from that.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

sensei258: @ semperfi - protect her from ever having to work again or having a budget to worry about

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Yes , of course.

That will explain how - 'she had "totally exhausted herself" trying to adjust '.

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-7 ( +3 / -10 )

The protection he offered was from the intense media scrutiny and stresses of being watched every day just for being part of the imperial household. You might think its an easy life not having to work or worry about money, but there are plenty of other things that can stress you to the point of a nervous breakdown.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

instead of being raised by wet nurses 

What? What are 'wet nurses'? I'd google it but im at work.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

A wet nurse is a nursing female who recently gave birth but uses her birth milk to feed other babies either because the mother is unable to do that themselves or rich enough to pay for it instead.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

"Naruhito, who espouses environmental causes, has taken part in international conferences on clean water and in 2015 made remarks at a U.N.-linked advisory board on water and sanitation. He has implied that he could work on climate change as well."

That is nice. However, it is time to visit Yasukuni Shrine.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

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afanofojapan : ...but there are plenty of other things that can stress you to the point of a nervous breakdown.

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Some how Empress Michiko managed the transition with seamless grace and comprehensively fulfilled her official duties as a Princess, and then as the Empress of the people of Japan with unparalleled serenity & majesty.

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-2 ( +4 / -6 )

semperfi, absolutely, and she should be congratulated for that. Not everyone is strong enough to handle it though. Pop stars often burn out, resort to drugs, have mental breakdowns... and thats from only a few years of media attention. Imagine that attention was pretty much guaranteed for the rest of your life.

I know i wouldnt cope. Being watched every second of the day. There would be pics of me in the tabloids every second day picking a booger out of my nose or rearranging my equipment.

Look at what happened with Ayako's future husband. Family secrets all aired out, tabloids filled with crazy stories. She could offer me a lifetime of wealth and i wouldnt take the bait.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

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afanofjapan : "....I know i wouldnt cope. Being watched every second of the day. There would be pics of me in the tabloids every second day ...... Family secrets all aired out, tabloids filled with crazy stories. ....... offer me a lifetime of wealth and i wouldnt take the bait."

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That shows how much smarter you are. You KNOW yourself. You stated in your post wouldn't take "the bait"

Indeed, Noone forced her to marry the Crown Prince.

It was her choice

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And you and I - as the common, red-blooded civilians - have a sense of the restrictions and exposure of that kind of life . . .

How much more, if one is moving in that kind of environment?

She was not a sheltered ingenue.

She comes of a gentrified family her father being a diplomat.

She studies at Harvard ( economics) and back to U of Tokyo ( law).

And worked for the Ministry ff Foreign Affairs .

She had the experience, training and personal skill set for the demands of life as a princess.

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The whole piece around how 'stressful" it is doesn't wash with me.

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-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@semperfi "... Empress Michiko managed the transition with seamless grace" ... and "unparalleled serenity & majesty."

You need to study up before posting. Michiko's marriage and rise to Empress was nothing close to "unparalleled serenity & majesty." It was one of the biggest struggles ever documented.

And as an FYI, there are dozens of intriguing backgrounders on why Masako said no, and it was not only the Imperial Household, but her family, several universities, and some professors who were involved and had issues with the marriage. The story is much deeper than what is played up in the media. It might be the second biggest struggle ever documented.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

A wet nurse is a nursing female who recently gave birth but uses her birth milk to feed other babies either because the mother is unable to do that themselves or rich enough to pay for it instead.

My great-grandmother was a "wet nurse" back in the deep south in the 20's and 30's when my grandfather and his brothers were born.  As was the custom back then, it was normally nursing Black women who had that job.

Best of luck to him.  First thing he should do is get rid of IHA.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Mike James : .. It was one of the biggest struggles ever documented....

I am aware the of the immense hurdles and even the adversity within the palacial ethos that Empress Michiko endured.

She - in face of all that- demonstrated exemplary courage - as Hemingway defined : grace under pressure.

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........There are dozens of intriguing backgrounders on why Masako said no.

.True. Am also quite cognizant of these stories.

That being said: she DID agree. She said "YES".

She was not a child-bride.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Mike James:  Michiko's marriage and rise to Empress was nothing close to "unparalleled serenity & majesty." It was one of the biggest struggles ever documented.

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Moreover, whatever the hurdles, it did not take the the quintessentially regal Empress Michiko 27 YEARS to come to terms with her "Role", and "Responsibility" as Crown Princes and subsequently as Empress - almost unequalled among royalty.

.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The IHA will go out of its way to break their charges. It's about control. You could be the most educated, intelligent but they will break, bend you to be subservient to their divine sence of importance.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A wet nurse is a nursing female who recently gave birth but uses her birth milk to feed other babies either because the mother is unable to do that themselves or rich enough to pay for it instead.

Thanks Zichi, I honestly didn't know.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It pains me to read some of the comments here directed at the Crown Prince and Princess.

Perhaps it's due to an underlying antipathy to the concept of royalty / monarchy in general. Perhaps it's due to antipathy to the Japanese imperial family in particular.

Regardless, the lack of sympathy and potshots at the Crown Prince and Princess is disheartening.

Everyone focuses on the fact that they live a life without want, as though it is the pampered life of jet-setting billionaires.

However, it is anything but that. It is a highly controlled, oppressive gilded cage.

The Crown Prince didn't choose this life. He was born into it. As was his father, the current Emperor. By all accounts, both men have done their best to fill their roles in a decent, commendable manner.

As for the Crown Princess, I am not sure who actually was around when things started to "heat up" between them, but there is absolutely no question that she "took one for the team". The pressure was brought to bear on her family and, through them, on her. She was made an offer that, to quote a famous movie, she couldn't refuse.

And I believe the Crown Prince knew that and has devoted himself to protecting her because of that.

And make no mistake, the IHA is populated by a bunch of conservative misogynistic bullies. And the female IHA staff are worse. They are the worst baba you will ever meet, times ten!

By the way, for anyone who is well-informed, it is common knowledge that the current Empress was relentless bullied by her mother-in-law, the late Empress. So much so that she suffered a nervous breakdown!! Something her eldest son witnessed!

My best wishes are with the Crown Prince and Princess!! I would never in a million years want to have the life they have.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

She suffers extreme depression. If he loves her and wants to protect her, he has to change the system. That won’t go down well with imperialists.

i fear this will end up like the Romeo and Juliet love story.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

WHAT / WHO is he going to "protect" her from?

I assume he meant the IHA. Imagine being constantly watched and told you can't do this or that because of some daft rule or tradition. Being told what to wear and how to behave in minute, tedious detail. Being constantly thwarted by "rules", the origin and reason for which is never explained. It's no wonder an independent woman with a good career was reduced to a nervous wreck by those people.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You people trying to make out the Imperial family as worthy of our sympathies for their "tough" lives crack me up.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

She can't visit her family without notifying the IHA months in advance, Kentoro in charge of veichals needs documents authorising the use of a car. The wardrobe staff need notice of what will she wear. The Shinto dudes need to check if the visit is auspices before the full moon or after it. If there is a woman thing going on. It's a very big pile of paperwork that needs to be filled stamped and Oked by the IHA and the government, it's not like she/ he could pop down to the the convenience store and grab a cup noodle and a Chu-hi.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Well, okay, so they don't have to ride the trains and work eight-hour days and pay taxes. In that sense their life isn't tough. However, they have a pretty busy schedule of what we'd see as inane and boring duties - National Red Cross Association meetings, anybody? - and no freedom to go outside the palace, travel or do anything else. For a while, if Masako went out to visit an expensive restaurant she came in for really fierce criticism in the press. She was supposed to have a baby BOY and was pressured to do that, to such an extent she wasn't allowed to go overseas for a while "just in case" she was pregnant. When she and the Crown Prince went on a "family" visit to Holland she was criticized. Constantly in the spotlight. Nope, I think that's pretty tough myself.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

“as part of parental efforts to make the royal family seem closer to the people.”

Not just that. Her husband had told her how lonely he had been being raised away from his family and Michiko believed it was in the best interest of her beloved children for her and her husband to raise them themselves.

“Some how  Empress Michiko managed the transition with seamless grace and comprehensively fulfilled her official duties as a Princess, and then as the Empress”

While I don’t fault Michiko at all, that’s not quite true. There was a period where she withdrew from public life and duties when her first son was little and there were also at least two periods where stress caused her to lose the ability to speak.

“Look at what happened with Ayako's future husband. Family secrets all aired out, tabloids filled with crazy stories.”

Did you mean Mako?

Anyone who thinks the royal family don’t work and live a gilded life really hasn’t got a clue as to what they do with their days.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

You people trying to make out the Imperial family as worthy of our sympathies for their "tough" lives crack me up.

Same here. I'm sure they are nice people, but they do have an easy ride. Speculative press scrutiny, aside, of course.

I'm of the opinion that one should bow to no-one. No doffing of caps or tugging of one's forelocks, either.

I think in another hundred years time, monarchies will be a thing of the past.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Indeed, Noone forced her to marry the Crown Prince. It was her choice.

Her choice? Yeah, right.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Best of luck to him. First thing he should do is get rid of IHA.

The IHA is part of the government to control the imperial family.

When they become emperor and empress, their personal lives will change drastically. No more sharing a futon. Separate residences, separate households.

Personally, I don't support unelected head of state, country like in royal family and imperial family nor has dictators like Xi of China.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's a disaster life forced on them. A princess can't marry a commoner because the IHA don't approve. Anyone else think this is wrong? For those who say nice life, give me 6 months telling you what to dress in what to say, See how you like it when I control every thing you do. I'd give you billions of dollars but the catch is I'm in charge. Can they spend it without paper work? And approvals? NO. It seriously is a depressing life.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Let's all not lose site of the fact that either of these people can simply walk away. There is no law forcing them to participate in such an "oppressive" lifestyle.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Well no law stopping them from walking away....then what took a year of secret meetings to allow retirement?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

With kunaicho anyone would have adjustment disorders. I wish this couple my best. I feel they can change Japan by just being themselves. God Bless them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well, It's a start, on a long slow road... but one wonder's whether anyone (Japanese enough) will be left to care once it's reached maturity ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan needs to change and allow the first born, regardless of gender, to take the throne. I admire this crown prince for defending his wife.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is an exciting time to be in Japan. Best wishes to the incoming new Emperor and Empress. I have the greatest respect for the current Emperor and Empress and wish them well and much happiness in their futures. It was always so great seeing them every August in Karuizawa. I hope they continue coming back!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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