Aussie book on Crown Princess draws official wrath

by Reiji Yoshida

The Foreign Ministry came to the defense of the Imperial family on Tuesday, saying it had lodged formal protests with the author and publisher of a new book about Crown Princess Masako that it called “contemptuous” and “insulting.”

The book, “Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne,” contains “unfounded and highly contemptuous descriptions of the appearances, activities and speeches” of the Emperor and Imperial family, a Foreign Ministry statement says.

Ambassador to Australia Hidenao Ueda gave a letter of protest Monday to author Ben Hills and the book’s publisher, Random House Australia, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mitsuo Sakaba told a news conference in Tokyo.

“The book insults both Japanese people and Imperial family members,” Sakaba said. He gave two examples: He said on page 186 of the book the kimono is described as a symbol of “the old-fashioned subservience of women,” and on page 200 Japan’s political system is called a “a stunned parody” of Western-style democracy. Hills was not immediately available for comment.

The Crown Princess, diagnosed in July 2004 with an adjustment disorder, has been out of the public eye since December 2003 except for a few rare occasions. The media have reported she is struggling under pressure to give birth to a male successor to the throne.