TOKYO (AP) – Japan’s Crown Prince Akishino, Emperor Naruhito’s younger brother, complained about harsh criticism of his daughter’s recent marriage and suggested that the imperial family be allowed to refute the bogus and extreme attacks .
Currently, family members are generally expected to stoically resist criticism with few complaints from the public.
The daughter of the crown prince, former Princess Mako, married commoner Kei Komuro, his college sweetheart, last month without a traditional wedding celebration, in part because of public criticism of a financial dispute involving the mother of the married. Their marriage was delayed for three years.
“Defamation, whether in magazines or online, is unacceptable,” Akishino said at a press conference that was taped last week and released Tuesday to mark his 56th birthday.
He described some magazine articles as fabrication, while others included “worth listening to” opinions. But he said some comments on social media “were horrible.”
Akishino’s grandfather, the late Emperor Hirohito, was worshiped as a god until the end of World War II, which was fought in his name. But today’s royals are often the subject of gossip magazines and social media comments.
Palace doctors said in October that Mako was recovering from a form of traumatic stress disorder she developed after seeing negative media reports about her marriage.
Akishino’s mother, Empress Emerita Michiko, wife of former Emperor Akihito and the first common man to marry a monarch in modern Japanese history, collapsed and temporarily lost her voice in 1993 at the following persistent negative media coverage. In response, the Imperial Household Agency set up a website to deal with some questionable reports.
There should be “certain criteria” that allow the royal family to respond to defamation beyond the limits of tolerance, Akishino said, adding that he plans to discuss the matter with palace officials.
He said libel hurts many people and can even lead to suicide.
Mako announced in September 2017 that she intended to marry the following year, but the financial dispute involving the mother over her finances surfaced two months later and the marriage was put on hold.
The couple now live in New York City, where Komuro works at a law firm. The dispute was resolved when he paid the disputed money just before they left Japan.
Critics say Mako’s marriage highlights the hardships faced by women in the Imperial Household.
Mako lost her royal status because Japanese law requires royal women who marry commoners to leave the family. The law of the Imperial House only authorizes male succession.
Mako’s departure reduces the size of the Imperial Household to 17. Naruhito has only two possible male successors – Akishino and his son Hisahito – with the exception of his 85-year-old uncle Prince Hitachi.