A Game of Royal Throne in Tokyo
The winner and the loser of a nine-year struggle in engagement
Japanese citizens like to marry each other. Many marriages produce stability and continuity, which fit with conservative nature of ordinary Tokyoites. Some 30m dwellers reside in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama, to draw the Kanto Plain, a flat area of the Island in the East Pacific.
What is more popular among Tokyoites is a talk of wedding among celebrities in news media. Newspapers and magazines publish a lot of stories to sell on the shelves. Japan is ageing and fewer children have been born. So the wedding is rare, especially for new couples in college romance.
But this wedding caught a lot of attentions for the entire segment of the population, probably not residents living in America. Princess Mako Akishinomiya (30) married Kei Komuro (30) in a nine-year dating cover-up. An episode of the Economist gave me a hook to write this short story for both Japanese young people and American counterpart.
For princess Mako, she wants to get out of the emperor garden as soon as possible. She suffered post-traumatic stress disorder during the ordeal. She showed up on wedding interview for the media and clearly projected a 100% perfect health to TV viewers. Very few Tokyoites believe that is the facial expression of the victim in sexism.
Her doctor diagnosed her with the ills but has not come out in the public. The diagnosis is probably the overstatement on the symptom.
Public dissents remain high in the groom of Mako and a 30-year old would-be lawyer in New York City. His mother has not returned a loan of Yen 4 m ($35,000) for the academic expense to International Christian University in West Tokyo. They met there in 2012. His love for the beloved princess is in question on suitability. He wants some money but not that much from the royal family.
Even without royal wedding ceremony, the couple will be reportedly receiving over Y120m ($1.4m) in pay for post-royal transition. Their trip to New York City upgraded the couple to the business-class comforts. The bodyguard is in place 24 hours a day 7 days a week in the Big Apple. Who would pay for this?
Mako suggested Kei that he go to law school abroad during the turmoil. Kei studied law at Fordham University in New York. With short work experience in the office, he took a bar exam in New York but didn’t pass. I hope that the next try is a charm. But he returned to Tokyo after the exam in his ponytail, which Japanese media covered in full. Some media caught a moment of his cloth in Darth Vader. The public scrutiny rose to find the intention.
The royal family goes on and the emperor roles continue under the Constitution of Japan. But not in the current practice. The royal family with common background has been a captive hostage to slow-changing conservative rituals. The practice becomes a shield for a change, particularly social changes outside the imperial palace. Their public service is out of date and very stressful, even to the receipents.
The winner of this royal wedding is the public media in tabloids in the attention economoy. The loser has been Tokyoites who pay a lot of tax to the government in futile. They contaminated their minds from unusual partnership, arrangement, and a hiding from the unknown experts. No one knows the truth. But the trust is more important than the truth. The Japanese public is fooled again.
For young college readers in this magazine, I can tell you, that the marriage is not romantic. It is not that romantic as often depicted in love films. It is not funny, either. It is not that funny as shown in a comedy. It is a mutual odyssey with no winners and losers. My wife does not say in words to describe the uncomfortable truth in public. But her analysis of this royal wedding is very comprehensive and accurate.
Japan is too slow to catch up. Let America be a guide for curing the social ills in Tokyo.