The Daily Yomiuri,
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8055
During the last several months it has been sad to read about the ill health of Crown Princess Masako, who has been absent from official duties due to a stress-related illness. Quite a stir was created many weeks ago when the Crown Prince defended his wife in an interview by accusing the Imperial Household Agency of thwarting, or stifling her individuality.
It makes one wonder what kind of life goes on behind the walls and trees, gates, fences and police lines of the Imperial Palace of the Emperor and Empress, and the Togu Palace of the Crown Prince and Princess. No doubt the Imperial Household Agency harbors a very conservative culture within its offices - maybe a critically anachronistic perpetuation of what Japanese culture really is. So in many ways I can't help but feel sorry for Masako, a commoner, of whom it might be said is trapped and a virtual prisoner of the Imperial Household Agency.
In light of the Crown Princess's illness it seems an obvious conclusion that the Imperial Household Agency is the kind of place that drives normal people mad. I say so because if we are talking about "stress related illness" then what we are talking about is mental health. I think that such a proposition is not beyond the bounds of acceptable opinion, and the Imperial Household Agency deserves more scrutiny and, perhaps, public accountability.
Published on Thursday, December 16, 2004 as “Princess’ guardians need greater public scrutiny.”