Risky Royalty: Are Royal Family Members allowed to talk against the Government?

A Japanese prince has caused a controversy over how freely imperial family members can speak on contentious matters as the Constitution prohibits the head of the family from being involved in politics.


A rare move by imperial family members of Japan, a prince questioned the government’s decision to use a massive amount of public money for a ritual in November after the ascension of Prince Naruhito to emperor in May 2019.


The prince said during a recent press conference for his 53rd birthday that he wondered if Japan should cover the religious event. This infuriated high ranking bureaucrats of the Imperial Household Agency not to mention the so called “experts” who studied the Japanese royal family matters.


Japanese media outlets provided huge coverage of the prince’s remark which prompted many in Japan to revisit the principle of the separation of state and religion as well as the issue of how freely the emperor’s second son can publicly speak.


The Japanese emperor and his family members have generally refrained from making political remarks as the Constitution, compiled after Japan’s surrender in World War II, indicates that the emperor cannot and will not have power in the government.


Some say that the prince crossed the line. Others say that the prince’s remark is hard to understand because he shouldn’t be to nosey in the government’s affairs and that he should follow the constitution.


Emperor Akihito typically gives a press conference ahead of the birthdays of their children on a regular basis.


After the remark made huge headlines, the emperor was a bit worried. He told reporters that the crown prince should have made the remark through consultation with the emperor in advance. Multiple media outlets highlighted a split in the imperial family of Japan.


Reference: Prince’s free speech hot topic in Japan


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