Lady Nadine Bonsor, who met Emperor Naruhito when he was a prince studying at Oxford University, remembers the young man as being “immensely courteous” (“U.K. host recalls prince’s 1984 visit” in the May 3 edition).
Reading his memoir, “The Thames and I: A Memoir of Two Years at Oxford,” leaves one with another impression. I’d say he’s thoughtful, disciplined, democratic and astute.
He’s very different from his imperial predecessor, Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, described in the article as one of Bonsor’s “buddies.”
I caught sight of Prince Tomohito on a couple of occasions as he moved along Oxford’s crowded sidewalks. He went about in a black cape, held together with showy chrysanthemum-shaped clasps.
The photo accompanying the story in the newspaper shows the future emperor attired in “sub fusc.” Is that a “commoners” gown that he’s wearing, along with a broad smile?
In his memoirs, he explains being called “Hiro” by his fellow students. “I liked the sound of ‘Hiro’ as a name,” he writes. (It sounds like “hero.”) Unlike Tomohito he could be seen in jeans and a T-shirt.
Oxford is a blessing, a reprieve: “It would be impossible in Japan to go to a place where hardly anyone would know who I was,” he writes. “It is really important and precious to have the opportunity to be able to go privately at one’s own pace where one wants.”
Bonsor, addressing the new emperor, says, “I’m sure you will be a wonderful emperor.” I’m sure he will be, too, if given half a chance.
His father used a televised message to signal a desire to abdicate. Occasional tweets from Emperor Naruhito will help keep the Japanese government grounded in the deeper wisdom of pacifism and peace.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.