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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A heavy burden falls on the royal women of Japan

TOKYO. One of the most difficult places in Japan for a woman is the royal family.

Nearly three decades ago, Empress Michiko lost her ability to speak after publicly picking on her alleged shortcomings as Emperor Akihito’s wife. Ten years later, Michiko’s daughter-in-law, the current Empress Masako, gave up her public duties to cope with depression after she was berated by the media for failing to produce a male heir.

Earlier this month, the Imperial House reported that Michiko’s 30-year-old granddaughter, Princess Mako, suffered from PTSD due to the relentless public disapproval of her choice of fiancé, Kei Komuro, a recent law graduate she will marry. Tuesday.

“She felt that her human dignity was violated,” – said the psychiatrist Princess Mako at a press conference, adding that “she considers herself to be someone useless.”

Regardless of whether they marry or are born into the monarchy, Japanese royal women adhere to ruthless standards, not only by the press and the public, but also by the court officials who run their daily lives. Since the emperor and his family are symbols of traditional Japan, royal women are exposed to a concentrated version of wider gender inequality in a country where conservative stripes in society often continue to portray women in tough roles.

While imperial women are not eligible to sit on the throne, the criticism they receive may be harsher than that of men in the family, who are partially protected by their proximity to the line of succession.

“In addition to working for the royal family, you have to maintain beautiful fashion, and after the wedding, your goal is to give birth,” said Rika Kayama, a professor and psychiatrist at Rikke University in Tokyo.

“Are you a good mother? People will ask, ”she added. “Do you have a good relationship with your mother-in-law? How do you support men in your life? So much work has to be done flawlessly and without interruption. I don’t think men in the imperial family are so closely watched. ”

Japan is slowly changing, with two women running for prime minister in the recent ruling party leadership elections. And some corporations are making a concerted effort to raise more women to leadership positions.

But in many ways, Japanese society still treats women as second-class citizens. Married couples are not legally allowed to have separate surnames – a system that in practice means that most women take their husbands’ names. Women remain underrepresented in leadership, parliament and prestigious universities in the country.

Women who protest their unfair treatment or advocate for equal rights are often judged for breaking the rules. Social media criticism of Princess Mako echoes attitudes towards women who have spoken out about sexual assault or even workplace rules regarding wearing high heels.

In the imperial family, women are expected to adhere to the values ​​of the earlier era.

“There is the idea that the imperial family is timeless and not part of modern society,” said Mihoko Suzuki, founding director of the University of Miami Humanities Center, who has written about women in monarchies. Traditionalists, she said, want to “project this old, more comforting and stable idea of ​​gender roles onto the imperial family.”

After World War II, the emperor was stripped of his divine status under a new constitution introduced by the Americans. And in many ways, the three generations of royal women reflect the evolution of Japan over the decades to come.

As the nation threw off the shackles of its military history, Michiko became the first commoner in centuries to marry. Instead of giving children to be raised by court chamberlains, she herself took care of them. Accompanying her husband Akihito as he traveled throughout Japan and around the world, she brought a human touch to the formerly distant imperial family by kneeling down to speak to disaster victims and people with disabilities.

But when she renovated the imperial residence or donned too many different outfits, the press was outraged. It was rumored that the judges and mother-in-law did not find her respectful enough.

In 1963, after a molar pregnancy just four years after her marriage, she had an abortion and left for the villa for more than two months as rumors spread that she had a nervous breakdown. Thirty years later, she succumbed to severe stress and lost her voice, returning to him only a few months later.

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Her sister-in-law Masako was a Harvard graduate and made a promising career as a fast-growing diplomat in 1993 when she married Naruhito, then Crown Prince. Many commentators hoped she would help modernize the hectic royal family and serve as a role model for Japan’s young working women.

Instead, every movement she made was analyzed for its potential impact on her ability to carry a baby. After a miscarriage, she gave birth to a baby girl, Princess Aiko, disappointing those who wanted a male heir. Court officials, protecting her womb, restricted her travel, forcing her to give up her public duties. She made a statement saying that she was suffering from “accumulated exhaustion, mental and physical.”

The most recent case involving Princess Mako shows that part of the public wants her to live up to royal expectations, even if she is forced to leave the family after marriage. The public harshly condemned her choice to marry Mr. Komuro, attacking his mother’s finances (and thus stigmatizing him as a gold digger) and calling him unfit for the husband of the emperor’s daughter. However, under Japanese law, Mako will lose its imperial status as soon as the marriage documents are filed.

Eight other princesses were married outside the family and were stripped of their monarchical status, although none of them were attacked similar to those of Princess Mako.

“I find it very, very odd that the Japanese think they should have the right to vote in any form and in any form,” said Kenneth J. Ruoff, a historian and scholar on the Japanese imperial family at Portland State University.

Princess Mako’s father, Crown Prince Akishino, initially refused to approve the marriage after the couple announced their engagement in 2017, stating that he wanted the public to accept the marriage before he gave his blessing.

Some seem to have taken the crown prince’s words to heart.

He “said that they should get married with the blessing of the people, so even he said that we have the right to contribute,” said Yoko Nishimura, 55, who last walked through the gardens of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. a week. “I think the Japanese believe that since the imperial family represents them in some way, we have the right to speak our minds.”

Crown Prince Akishino eventually relented, but incessant comments in the mainstream press and on social media did the trick.

Despite the couple quietly preparing for their private marriage registration without royal pomp, the attacks did not stop. In recent weeks, protesters have marched in Ginza, a popular shopping district, holding signs “Don’t pollute the imperial house with this damned marriage” and “Do your duties before wedding.”

A writer for the weekly Gendai Business magazine opposed the choice of Princess Mako, saying she “dishonors Japan internationally.” On Twitter, some have called her a “tax thief,” even though she opted to forgo a royal dowry of around $ 1.4 million. Others accuse the princess of staging PTSD.

“The public will be suspicious of you if you announce in a few months that you have recovered,” wrote one Twitter user.

Comparisons with the British royal family are perhaps inevitable. Prior to her marriage to Prince Harry, Meghan Markle had been attacked for months due to her family background. Like Meghan and Harry, Princess Mako and Mr. Komuro, a Fordham Law School graduate, are expected to flee to the United States, where Mr. Komuro works at a New York City law office.

Both Harry and Meghan have been outspoken about the cost in their mental health. Prince Harry’s revelation about his depression over the death of his mother, Diana, who also suffered from depression and eating disorders, helped spark the conversation about mental health in Britain.

Japanese royal women, too, may spark more debate about mental health in a country where it is still a sensitive topic.

“I don’t think women in the imperial family publicly talked about their mental health problems to start a dialogue,” said Katherine Tanaka, assistant professor of Japanese literature and culture at Hyogo University. “But I think it is bold of them to admit it.”

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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