Crown Prince Akishino appeals for reporting ‘accurate information’ on Imperial family

Courtesy of the Imperial Household Agency
Crown Prince Akishino and his family pose for a photo on the grounds of the Akasaka Estate in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Nov. 6.

Crown Prince Akishino celebrated his 57th birthday on Wednesday. Before his birthday, he held a press conference at the East residence in Moto-Akasaka, Tokyo, on Nov. 25, during which he expressed his belief that “it is necessary to convey accurate information in a timely manner,” referring to reports by weekly magazines and scurrilous articles about the Imperial family, which he said were contrary to the facts.

At a press conference on the occasion of celebrating his 56th birthday last year, the crown prince cited weekly magazine reports and internet postings that differed from the facts as the cause of the complex post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by his eldest daughter Mako Komuro, 31, who married last October.

However, he also said that when refuting such false reports, “certain criteria will be necessary.”

At the latest press conference, he revealed that it is often difficult for anyone other than those directly concerned to know whether or not an article is factually incorrect, and that he had taken a certain sample of a certain article and gone through the process of checking it.

As a result, he said, he realized that “it is difficult to establish criteria” because of the “considerable efforts” he made in trying to do so. He stated that “we may refute factual errors if they are too egregious.” Any specific method would be a subject that needs to be considered in the future, he said.

The Imperial Household Agency is considering the use of social media to enhance the dissemination of information on the Imperial family, starting next fiscal year. As to whether the agency will deliver information or members of the Imperial family themselves will have their own accounts through which to share information directly, Crown Prince Akishino pointed out that direct communication would be “more straightforward.”

He said, “I don’t think I will do it, but there is a possibility of [Imperial family members] doing it, of course.”

At the press conference, he said he is “very happy” that he has been able to resume his official duties even outside of Tokyo since this spring, thanks to the government’s plan for “living with COVID-19.” He explained that during the COVID-19 pandemic, he often participated in official events online. But he said it was “totally different in terms of feeling” from his experience of actually attending such events.

As an example, he shared an anecdote about his visit to the site of the All Japan Senior High School Cultural Festival this summer. He came across a student who was the creator of one of the works that was on display and was able to hear a direct explanation of the work. He said, “I hope there will be more exchanges like that in the future.”

Regarding his son Prince Hisahito, 16, who entered the Senior High School at Otsuka, University of Tsukuba, in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, this spring, Crown Prince Akishino said, “He seems to be leading a busy but fulfilling school life with his classes and club activities.”

When asked for updates on Mako, who lives in the United States, he declined to answer, saying, “She has asked us to refrain from talking about her.”