Thursday, August 23, 2007

Princess Masako Controversy Drives Threats & Sales

Storied histories, fabled horrors and snagging a Prince is conjured up by the feminine power of one word, Princess. Pick any country with a royal heritage and the stories are there for all to see or read in fairytale scripts or in lurid color at a tabloid newsstand. An Australian writer did that, receiving a bona fide death threat for his scribing efforts in Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne. Tough review from Japanese royal watchers for Ben Hills, not at all appropriate for the book jacket, but wow, will it drive book sales.
Hills said he had received the anonymous death threats via email. “They were saying things like, ‘Die white pork!’ They were quite racist,” Hills said.
Japan is the Land of the Rising Sun. It is a closed Asian culture wedded to ancient traditions and modernity. The Chrysanthemum Throne has existed for a thousand years into the 21st century. Marrying into the family is a disappearing act for the Princess, never to interact with beloved family and friends as the Princess ascends into the royal family. The Imperial Household Agency, nothing like Merry Maids Cleaning Service, have all the power and the skills to use it as courtiers and managers of every royal matter. Nary a word that has not been prearranged shall drip from the tightly held pale lips of the royal family. There lies the backdrop of what the Australian author has the temerity to speak of with the riff raff public, what happens when not in public for Japan's Crown Princess.

Tales of conception and nervous breakdowns are not new for Japan's royal family. Princess Masako's mother-in-law, Empress Michiko has suffered as well. Imagine the shock to an admission of alcoholism by a prince in the line of succession.

The book on Princess Masako is about to go on sale in Japan as a translation. It is doing well enough in America, Australia and other English speaking countries. Japan's royal dishing is old hat to the Windsor family and a quick review of the Continent's royal escapades are the stuff of modern legend. In comparison, Japan royal shenanigans are downright boring. It is just that they have never been in the public eye before and the initial dousing in the cold waters of reality takes some adjustment.

Ben Hill says he has no apologies to make for his book. Many in Japan beg to differ.

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