A NEW PRINCESS STIRS JAPAN When Masaka Owada Marries Crown Prince Naruhito June 9, She Gives Up Her Career and Private Life to Enter the Rarified World of Japan's Imperial Household

By Clayton Jones, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, June 2, 1993 | Go to article overview

A NEW PRINCESS STIRS JAPAN When Masaka Owada Marries Crown Prince Naruhito June 9, She Gives Up Her Career and Private Life to Enter the Rarified World of Japan's Imperial Household


Clayton Jones, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


HE was once seen as the most ineligible bachelor in Japan. She was a promising young diplomat who spent half her youth outside Japan and six years avoiding his affection for her.

But despite their pasts, Crown Prince Naruhito and Masako Owada will be wed on June 9 in a millennia-old ceremony and in a royal match reflecting Japan's troubled search for new roles for its emperor and for Japanese women.

In its simplest meaning, the long-awaited marriage is a highly orchestrated attempt by the powerful Imperial Household Agency (IHA) to ensure that Japan has a male heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne, the world's oldest unbroken dynasty.

But the event has triggered mixed emotions, raising questions:

Can Ms. Owada, who is worldly and outspoken, easily enter the cloistered life behind the imperial moat, obey the strict etiquette, and follow the ancient rituals of Japan's indigenous Shinto religion? Or will she, as a future empress, alter a tradition-bound institution that fewer and fewer Japanese hold in awe?

To the many young Japanese who are apathetic about the emperor "system" and who see it as an anachronism, June 9 will be just another official holiday, specially declared for the event.

And for many businesses beset by a recession, the event is a chance to cash in on an expected "Masako boom" with wedding-related sales. The Japanese media, too, plan day-long coverage of a ceremony that will be measured in minutes.

For one group of activists, who recently held a seminar on "What is there to celebrate about the crown prince's wedding?" the event is not politically correct. Feminist historian Yuko Suzuki, for instance, says the only role for a woman in the imperial family is to produce a successor. She says the root of discrimination in Japan lies in the 19th-century law that only men can be emperor.

The imperial family does hold unusual privilege in a society that otherwise sees itself as egalitarian. After World War II, the emperor was demoted from a "living god" to a symbol of the state under a new American-directed constitution. That began an evolution designed to help the institution keep pace with Japanese society by narrowing the gap between royalty and the people.

With Owada joining the imperial family as crown princess, that pace may quicken, as many wish it would. "We hope they will present a new `face' of Japan in an era when our nation plays an increasingly important role on the international stage," an editorial in the Nikkei daily business newspaper said.

A strong minority of Japanese, however, contend that the imperial family should stay remote as keepers of "innocent" spiritual purity, and not become so common. "Some people think that if you take the mystery out of the emperor, you reduce him as a symbol," says Keio University scholar Sumiko Iwao.

Today's Japanese feel starved for fulfillment, writes Osaka University professor Masakazu Yamazaki, and are "looking to the crown prince's wedding to provide an alternative means of satisfying this spiritual hunger."

The imperial family's mystique will not last much longer, he points out, and the royals must resolve the same contradiction between tradition and modern values that Japanese society is coping with.

The best clues so far to how Owada and Naruhito will change the institution together can be found in their unusual courtship.

They first met in 1986 when she was 23 and studying law at Tokyo University and he was 26, just starting his bride hunt. She was one of several young women invited to an autumn reception for Spain's Princess Elena in an obvious attempt at matchmaking. He claims he knew then that she was his choice. She, however, was pursuing a career. The crown prince told reporters: "Masako-san was always on my mind, and I asked the IHA frequently, `Can't it be Masako-san?'"

But she demurred, and the 1,100-person IHA, which closely guards and controls the emperor's family, was not high on her either. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A NEW PRINCESS STIRS JAPAN When Masaka Owada Marries Crown Prince Naruhito June 9, She Gives Up Her Career and Private Life to Enter the Rarified World of Japan's Imperial Household
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.