Masako: the diplomatic empress

(To Maria Grazia Labellarte)

From May 1, Japan has a new empress consort, Masako, married by the 1992 with Crown Prince Naruhito, who ascended to the Throne of Chrysanthemum following the abdication of Emperor Akihito.

It is not yet known what policy the new imperial couple will adopt: many in Japan hope for a new era of "diplomacy", with the imperial couple committed to promoting the country abroad through more official missions, also with the aim of finally giving the former career diplomat Masako Owada the opportunity to use the skills he has honed over the years as a "bourgeois", before joining the Imperial House, the oldest in the world.

Fifty-five years, he spent his childhood between Moscow and New York during the diplomatic missions of his father, then president of the International Court of Justice, the first childhood in Tokyo and adolescence and the years of university in the United States, graduating in Harvard.

He speaks fluent French, English and German.

Excellent student, Masako first meets Prince Naruhito in the 1986: legend has it that he was immediately struck by her intelligence and her ways. However, despite the press's interest in Masako as the potential bride of the crown prince, she is so determined to focus on her career to escape any marriage project. Meanwhile, the prince, who evidently is a man like everyone else, does not forget it and after returning to Japan several years later, with the support of the Imperial House, he begins to organize carefully orchestrated meetings, although Masako herself rejects marriage proposals several times of the future emperor.

Time passes and in the end even our heroine gives in, conquered by the determination of Naruhito, Masako agrees to marry him in December of the 1992, after the engagement the previous year.

The princess, who speaks four languages, hopes to draw on her diplomatic skills in her new "official" role. Vain hope: raison d'etat requires the birth of an heir but this will happen only in the 2001. While Japan rejoices at the birth of the little princess, the imperial house rejoices a little less: unfortunately, according to the law of succession, a woman cannot inherit the Japanese imperial throne. In addition, Japanese princesses must give up their status after marriage, as will the crown sister's younger sister, Mrs. Sayako Kuroda, who married in 2005.

Both the public and the press are happy with the choice of this young woman, brilliant and beautiful, as the girlfriend of Prince Naruhito, symbol of the modern young Japanese woman and a symbol of modernity.

Thus, the need for a reform of the succession law emerges, paving the way for Princess Aiko to succeed her father. Obviously, there are also many voices of dissent from the most conservative. In the early months of the 2006, Prime Minister Koizumi promised to present a bill that would allow a woman to ascend the throne.

In September, 2006 was born, however, Prince Hisahito, son of Naruhito's brother, and put an end to the speculation on the laws of succession, placing himself in third place in the line of succession behind his uncle, the new emperor and his father, brother of the same.

What role will Masako play in the decades to come? How will the issue of an imperial house in full demographic crisis be solved? History is still waiting to be written!

Photo: web