I'm sure all of you have been anxiously following the drama of the Japanese Imperial family,
I have pretty much next to no interest in the petty little novels of royal succession and imperial weddings, but they force themselves on me anyway, leading off news broadcasts, the disembodied face of Princess Masako flapping from a tabloid advertisement on my train to work. I mean, I guess I know the outlines of the story. Harvard educated Princess Masako giving up her promising career as a diplomat in order to marry Crown Prince Naruhito, she is unable to produce a male heir, grows depressed and reclusive. She has a baby girl, Aiko, who is the cutest little princess ever. Maybe just cute enough to become... Empress!
Can a girl really do that? Let's forget the fact that girls were empressing all over the place in the 8th century ordering deaths of their enemies, consolidating power; does a girl really have what it takes to be a meaningless, powerless icon in the 21st century? I have a first hand account of the daily rigors that a modern day emperor must endure. My buddy Jolyon is currently in
One hundred and fifty years ago over half the country had never heard of the emperor, they were up to their knees in the mud planting rice so they could pay their local taxes. One hundred years ago the emperor was an oil painting, scowling with through his beard and his Prussian military uniform, chest puffy with medals and gold braid. Eighty-five years ago they didn’t really publicize the emperor too much: he was mildly retarded. Sixty-five years ago his name was on the lips of battalions marching through every corner of the Eastern hemisphere, his portrait in the front of every school room, staring dumb at the millions who repeatedly chanted praises. Fifteen years later, his job (and his neck) spared by the American occupation he shook hands with his beloved childhood friend,
This is the question that has gripped many of
Well, Princess Masako and the rest of us can take a big sigh of relief, because, like the title said: “It’s a boy!” As usual I wasn’t exactly waiting on this news, it had to walk up and grab me. I was hurrying to work in the
Q: So, are you familiar with the imperial succession issue?
A: Umm, yes.
Q: Did you know that their Imperial Highnesses Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko had conceived a child nine months ago?
A: Oh, the younger brother? Actually… no, I didn’t.
Q: Well, this morning that child was born! (Voice twinkling with excitement.)
Q: Do you know what the gender of the Imperial Child turned out to be?
Q: It’s a boy! What do you think about that?
A: Well… I don’t know, I’ve always wondered what the problem with a having a female Empress is. Actually, to tell you the truth, I don’t really understand what the big deal is.
Q: Thank you so very much for your time!
By noon, everyone at work had heard I’d been on television, and they wanted to know where they could catch the first episode of Jamie: Japanese Pundit.
“I don’t know, I forgot to ask the guy what station he was. Was worried about being late.”
“Well, they probably won’t use you anyway. Just a string of old ladies saying ‘Oh, isn’t that nice...’”