Japan’s Crown Prince Akishino turns 56, discusses lack of ceremonies for daughter’s marriage
November 30, 2021
Ahead of his 56th birthday on Tuesday, Crown Prince Akishino held a press conference at which he discussed the decision for his eldest daughter, the former Princess Mako, to marry without traditional ceremonies.
The absence of these rites for Mako and her now husband, Kei Komuro, “gave the impression that the Imperial family’s ceremonies are extremely trivial,” the crown prince said. “I feel remorseful toward the people who were inconvenienced by this, as it had an impact on the Imperial family.”
The crown prince said the decision not to hold the ceremonies was made by him. It was based, he said, on the fact that the Komuro family’s financial troubles were unresolved at the time, and that the 28-page document released by Komuro in April to clarify the issue was “not something everyone could understand and accept immediately after reading it.”
Crown Prince Akishino had asked for a situation in which the marriage could be “accepted and celebrated by many people” as a condition for holding the ceremonies.
Regarding Mako’s complex post-traumatic stress disorder, the crown prince said it was “probably caused by magazine and online articles.”
“Slander and defamation cannot be tolerated,” he said.
Mako and Komuro, both 30, held a press conference on the day of their marriage on Oct. 26. However, they did not take or answer oral questions at the venue.
“I wish [the press conference] had been conducted in an interactive form,” the crown prince said. He said it would have been “difficult” for Mako to do so because of her PTSD, but “it would have been better [for Komuro] to have an opportunity to speak in his own words and answer questions.”
During his own press conference, Crown Prince Akishino said there had been “fabricated stories” in some of the magazine and online articles that led to Mako’s PTSD. He pointed out the need to establish standards to counter false information, as facts and fabrications are woven together in many articles.
Articles about Mako’s marriage in weekly magazines claimed to express the thoughts or words of the Emperor, Empress or Empress Emerita, but the crown prince said, “I’ve never actually heard such things [from them].”
However, he also said there are “opinions worth listening to” in weekly magazine reports. “I don’t think I should disregard everything.”
He noted that explaining the factual accuracy of numerous articles one by one “would take tremendous effort,” and said, “It’s necessary to set a certain standard, and to refute stories when they do not meet that standard.”
Regarding online comments, the crown prince said “some are indeed quite terrible.” Some people have lost their lives as a result of online insults, and the crown prince stressed, “Whether in a magazine or online, slander and defamation cannot be tolerated.”
As for accusations that Mako prioritized her private interests over her responsibilities as a public figure, Crown Prince Akishino said the marriage of a female Imperial family member, who will lose her status as a member upon marriage to a commoner, was “different in nature” from that of a man in the family, whose marriage partner is a subject of deliberation by the Imperial House Council.
He expressed skepticism, saying, “Do binary concepts of ‘public’ and ‘private’ apply?”
About Mako’s relocation to New York to start a new life with her husband, the crown prince said, “It’s their decision, so that’s what is best for them.”
He also spoke about the activities of the Imperial family during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Although Crown Prince Akishino has been interacting with the public through online activities, he expressed his desire to meet people in person as much as possible.
“It’s very different actually going to a place, and seeing and hearing things there,” the crown prince said.
As for the continuing decrease in the number of Imperial family members who can conduct official duties, the crown prince said, “I think we can only do what we can with the number of people we currently have.”
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