I knew Koizumi was cool! Also, the saga of Princess Masako

Japan Today: Koizumi thinks public would support a reigning empress

There is actually some interesting debate in the comments this time, along with the usual tripe. BlackKnight’s remarks about Crown Princess Masako (Dec 3 2004 – 11:36) are notable.

Some related links:

Hello! Japan’s Masako: A modern princess seeks harmony in a traditional world

2004/07/31: Telegraph: Crown princess is ‘mentally ill’

Two interesting quotes from that last article:

Though courtiers remain deeply conservative, imperial family members have encouraged a relatively open approach, seen when the emperor revealed in 2002 that he was suffering from prostate cancer.


In Japan, adjustment disorder is commonly associated with children who grow up abroad but experience shock at the rigidity of Japanese culture when they return home.

And some Japan Today news articles:

2004/01/10: Masako admits pressure of living in royal family

2004/05/13: Imperial agency rattled by crown prince’s comments on wife

2004/05/14: “Pop Vox”: Do you feel sorry for Crown Princess Masako?

2004/05/15: Flap over crown prince’s remark continues

2004/06/09: Crown prince says Masako trying to adapt to imperial life

2004/10/22: Empress rebuked Crown Princess Masako, London Times reports

2004/10/30: Masako displeased with news reports that empress rebuked her

2004/11/30: Prince Akishino critical of brother’s remarks in May

Some sites have described Masako in the following manner:

Due to her background as a ‘career woman’, still a rare occurence in Japan, there were high expectations for Masako modernizing the role of Crown Princess. This has not happened. On the contrary, over the years it has become clear that Masako is actually extremely conservative.

She is definitely not the free-thinker that many journalists and members of the public think she is. In an interview with Gale Eisenstodt, formerly the Tokyo bureau chief for Forbes magazine, Grand Chamberlain Makoto Watanabe was quoted as saying: “The media created an overblown image of Princess Masako as the young, aggressive career woman. She’s very intelligent, but she is also more of a follower.” Even her orthodox clothes apparently are her own choice. A fellow student of her Oxford days called Masako “very much the traditional Japanese woman, unlikely to take initiative or stick her neck out.”

It feels to me like the sites making claims about her personality are drawing this “information” from imperial household sources and Western values, and therefore not getting to the heart of the matter. I think that Princess Masako has undergone a severe amount of pressure to fit the role of crown princess–not only in producing a male heir, but in acting in a way “befitting” her position. I believe that stress over the latter has caused her to lose confidence. I also believe that she has lacked a creative outlet since being married. She was once a successful diplomat, but now she no longer has those duties. It may be that these “expectations” that she would “modernize” the role of crown princess had the double effect of 1) turning the imperial household against her, and 2) building additional mental pressure for the princess.

Whatever the truth, whether she is really “conservative” or not, it’s obvious that she’s undergone a lot of stress. I wish her the best.