The birth may ... end the psychological drama surrounding the royal family, especially Princess Masako. When she gave up a career in diplomacy to marry [Crown Prince Naruhito] in 1993, she was heralded as a modern Japanese woman who could perhaps even modernize the imperial institution. But the princess was soon confronted with the reality that she was now expected to do only one thing: bear a male heir.As an American, viewing this from afar, I'm rooting for Princess Masako. I don't like seeing Kiko getting the jump on her. But maybe my Japanese readers can add some dimension in the comments.
When the couple finally had a child, it was a girl, Princess Aiko. The Imperial Household Agency, the powerful bureaucracy that oversees the royal family, kept up the pressure to have another child, and Princess Masako eventually slipped into a depression.
Her plight led the crown prince to hold an extraordinary news conference two years ago, in which he stated that he would not let his wife be sacrificed for the greater good of the monarchy. “There has been a move,” the prince said, “to deny Masako’s career and personality.”
Prince Akishino, who had always lived in his older brother’s shadow, criticized his brother and sister-in-law by saying that they must put their public duties above all....
Princess Kiko, the daughter of a university professor who never had a career before marrying, has become the darling of the Japanese media. By contrast, Princess Masako has increasingly become a target, routinely criticized by the conservative media for her supposed selfishness and lack of common sense.
September 6, 2006
So there's finally a new male heir to the Japanese throne, produced by Princess Kiko, after all these years of pressure on Princess Masako. This apparently ends the recent debate about whether a female could ascend to the throne, but I think the more interesting feminist issue is the way Masako and Kiko are perceived and compared: