Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

When the Paparazzi Threaten a Dynasty Japan Calls for Press Restraint as the Crown Prince Searches for a Bride - a Letter from Tokyo

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

When the Paparazzi Threaten a Dynasty Japan Calls for Press Restraint as the Crown Prince Searches for a Bride - a Letter from Tokyo

Article excerpt

DEAR Editor,

Your wise counsel is requested in a most difficult dilemma for this reporter.

The Japanese news media have officially asked foreign journalists in Tokyo to censor themselves by not reporting about the women who date the bachelor crown prince. What to do?

It's easy to sympathize. Crown Prince Naruhito, who just turned 32, has failed to tie the knot and produce a male heir. A media spotlight has disrupted his search for a consort. The 1,600-year-old monarchy, a symbol of Japanese unity, might die out. Even Gen. Douglas MacArthur, during the postwar American occupation, didn't want that to happen.

Sympathy also goes out to the young women who have already dated the crown prince. They were harried mercilessly by Japanese journalists who now find it in their hearts to back off. What would-be empress wants her face on magazine covers and subway posters, her history exposed, her love life probed?

A few years ago, the crown prince did take an interest in Brooke Shields and sought her out on her trips to Tokyo. If he does see her again, should this newspaper stifle itself?

Fortunately, Ms. Shields is already a media star and considered fair game by the Japanese press. And she's not a serious candidate: No foreigner would ever be allowed on the throne, even though Japan has patterned its modern imperial system on the European monarchies, at least in form.

She has another shortcoming: She's too tall.

The prince's retainers are not sure of his height. "We have not measured him recently," an Imperial Household Agency official says. "We suggest that you guess {his height} from looking at him. But, um, I would say he is about 165 centimeters {5 feet, 4 inches}."

Any candidate for this royal union, it is said, must pass three tests: a proper subordinate height, an ability to speak English, and no previous boyfriends. These conditions have narrowed the field considerably. …

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