The domestic press is more deferential to Japan’s Imperial family than the British press is to its royal family. To secure access, Japan’s mainstream media must play by the rules of the Imperial Household Agency, which controls said access and watches the resulting coverage closely.
The weeklies and tabloids have no direct access to the royal family, at least not through the Imperial Household Agency, and so they write whatever they want. For the most part, they don’t go as far as the British tabloid press does in covering their royals, but they’ve been known to report on scandals in the palace. At the moment, they’re fired up about Kei Komuro, the law firm employee who wants to marry Princess Mako, the elder daughter of Prince Akishino, the second son of Emperor Akihito. The couple announced their intentions last September and it was assumed they would be married sometime this year but then, in December, Shukan Josei started reporting that Komuro’s widowed mother owed money to a former boyfriend. The story was picked up by other weeklies and then the major media, the result of which has been a full-blown scandal that now incorporates sideshows about the Komuros’ religious beliefs and the deaths of Kei’s father and grandfather, both allegedly by suicide.