Japanese heir is born; Japanese women’s movement miscarried


Now that there is a baby boy in the Japanese royal family of little girls, the movement to allow a girl become queen will end.

It’s a good time to tell the story of Crown Princess Masako, wife of the Crown Prince Naruhito, who struggled unsuccessfully to have this male heir. (Her sister-in-law delivered the baby boy today.)

Masako is Harvard educated and had a successful career as a diplomat before marrying the man-who-would-be-king. She thought she’d buck tradition and continue to be involved in aspects of her career even after she got married. However strict government oversight of Japan’s royal family made that impossible.

Masako capitulated: Abandoned her career, had a daughter, and then a nervous breakdown. She is a reminder that while women struggle with the wide range of choices we have, without the opportunity to craft our own lives, most of us also would have nervous breakdowns.

Every time I read something about the Japanese royal family I get sad about Masako. In an attempt to find something to do with her intellect that would be acceptable to the powerful organization that manages the royal family, Masako translated Japanese poetry for children into English. Here is one of the poems:


In a cage
Of his
Own making

5 replies
  1. finance girl
    finance girl says:

    Wait, I’m confused. You mean it wasn’t that woman that married that prince several years ago? I am not a follower of the Japanese royal family but that is hugely depressing if she was put to the side because she didn’t produce a male heir.

    I can sympathize a little with her, as I have watched my younger SILs get pregnant and have kids (unaccomplished in every other way).

  2. jaelithe
    jaelithe says:

    Ah, Finance Girl, I think you are missing some key information. The male heir is not a direct heir to the throne. He’s not the Crown Prince’s son; he’s the son of the Crown Prince’s younger brother. The Japanese legislature had been poised to pass a new law that would allow the Crown Prince’s only daughter to be named the heir if this child had not been born male, but since the new child is male, he supercedes his female cousin’s claim to the throne, despite the fact that he is not the child of the Crown Prince.

    Interestingly enough, the law that prohibits women from being emperor was only written in 1945, during the U.S. occupation of Japan; prior to that there had been a few female emperors. Yet conservatives in Japan claim that allowing a princess to ascend to the emperor’s throne would be violating a long-standing Japanese tradition. Just goes to show you that men who want to keep women out of politics will use just about any excuse.

  3. pengie10
    pengie10 says:

    “…..struggled unsucessfully to have this male heir…….”???????????? Poor Crown Princess Masako can’t “produce” a male heir unless her husband contributes the necessary chromosome – only a male can contribute a male chromosome. Surely even the Imperial Household Agency is aware of the rudiements of biology!!!!!

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