Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday he was distressed by remarks Imperial Household Agency Grand Steward Noriyuki Kazaoka made regarding Princess Hisako’s attendance at the upcoming International Olympic Committee meeting in Buenos Aires.
On Monday, Kazaoka said it was a “difficult decision” for the widow of the late Prince Takamado to attend the IOC meeting, noting that participation by Imperial family members in Tokyo’s campaign to host the 2020 Olympics could be interpreted as political.
Prince Takamado, who died in 2002, was the third son of Prince Mikasa, 97, who is the brother of the late Emperor Hirohito (known posthumously as Showa) and an uncle of Emperor Akihito.
Kazaoka also said he imagined that Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko were concerned about the presence of the princess.
Suga said he felt “great discomfort” at Kazaoka’s “imagining the feelings of the Emperor and Empress and referring to them.”
Suga said the prime minister’s office asked the Imperial Household Agency to send Princess Hisako to the IOC meeting via the education and sports ministry.
Suga denied that her attendance was for any sort of political purpose or that the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had put pressure on the Imperial family.
He said Princess Hisako was asked to attend the IOC meeting because she has served as honorary president of the Japan Football Association and has contributed a great deal to the promotion of sports.
The princess has been asked to express Japan’s gratitude to the rest of the world for support provided in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.