Imperial Household Agency


Imperial Household Agency

The nihongo|Imperial Household Agency|宮内庁|"Kunaichō" is a government agency of Japan in charge of the state matters concerning Japan's imperial family and also keeping the Privy Seal and the State Seal. Before the Second World War, it was called the Imperial Household Ministry (宮内省 "Kunaishō"). Since 6 January 2001 the Agency has been headed by a Grand Steward, and is assisted by a Vice-Grand Steward. The current Grand Steward is Shingo Haketa.

The Agency comprises the Grand Steward's Secretariat, the Board of Chamberlains, the Board of the Ceremonies, Archives and Mausolea Department, Maintenance and Works Department, the Crown Prince's household and the Kyoto Office.

The agency's headquarters is located within the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Apart from the responsibilities of the daily runnings, such as state visits, organising events, preservation of traditional culture, administrative functions, etc., the agency is also responsible for the various imperial residences scattered throughout the country. Visitors who wish to tour the Kyoto Gosho, the Katsura Detached Palace, and other sites, should register for guided tours with the agency first.

The Agency has responsibility for the health, security and travel arrangements of the Imperial family, including maintaining the Imperial line. A "Grand Master of the Household" helps manage the schedules, dining menus, and household maintenance for the family.

The Agency differs from normal Japanese agencies in that it does not directly reportto the Prime Minister at the cabinet level.

Criticism

The Agency has frequently been criticized for isolating members of the Imperial Family from the Japanese public, and for insisting on hidebound customs rather than permitting a more approachable, populist monarchy. These criticisms have become more muted in recent years; Emperor Akihito has himself done much to make the Japanese monarchy less aloof.

Prince Naruhito, in May 2004, criticised the then-Grand Steward of the Imperial Household, Toshio Yuasa, for putting pressure on Princess Masako, Naruhito's wife, to bear a male child. At a press conference, Naruhito said that his wife had "completely exhausted herself" trying to adapt to royal life, and added "there were developments that denied Masako's career (up to our marriage) as well as her personality." [http://www.time.com/time/asia/covers/501060904/story2.html The Future of Japan's Monarchy] , "Time Asia" Magazine] [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0XPQ/is_2005_Jan_10/ai_n8693402 Imperial family exposed to media speculation in 2004] , Japan Policy and Politics, 10 Jan 2005] [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0XPQ/is_2004_June_1/ai_n6279536 Crown prince back in Japan, will not meet press] , Japan Policy and Politics, May 24 2004] It has officially been stated that Masako is suffering from an "adjustment disorder", but there has been extensive speculation in the press that she is suffering from clinical depression as a result of her treatment by Imperial Household officials. [ [http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article1359799.ece About a boy: Dynasty, Japan-style] , "The Independent on Sunday", 8 July 2007]

Increasingly in recent years, the Agency's prevention of archaeological research regarding a large number of Kofun Era tombs putatively designated as "imperial" has come under criticism from academics. Such research, particularly on the ancient tombs in the Kansai region of western Japan, has the potential to yield a great bounty of information on the origins of Japanese civilization. The possibility that such finds could verify theories of formative civilizational ties with contemporary civilizations in China and the Korean Peninsula, with commensurate influence on thought about the origins of the Imperial Household itself, is generally considered to be the greater part of the jealousy with which the agency guards its authority over this large number of tombs (many of which are likely imperial only in name), and prevents scientific inquiry into these sites. [ Hudson, M. (1999). "Ruins of Identity: Ethnogenesis in the Japanese Islands". Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.] [ Oguma,E. (2002). "A Genealogy of 'Japanese' Self-images" (translated by David Askew). Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press.] [Edwards, W. (2000). Contested access: The Imperial tombs in the postwar period. "Journal of Japanese Studies", Vol. 26, No. 2, 371-392.]

In his book "", Ben Hills portrays the Agency as controlling every aspect of the lives of the members of the Imperial Family, both public and private, and exerting near-total control over them, from staff appointments to wardrobe selection:

::If your idea is that the Kunaicho are obedient servants catering to every royal whim, think again. Although their official title in English is The Imperial Household Agency, Hills brands them the "Men in Black" for their uniform of dark suits as well as their mysterious, behind-the-scenes power. As with the royal family itself, positions in the 1300-year-old Agency are hereditary.

::Hills interviews one Agency member who seems to boast of the fact that 9 out of 10 requests from the royals, even the emperor himself, are rejected. Masako, for instance, was too often denied the simple pleasures of browsing a bookstore, visiting her family, or calling her old college friends around the world. This, it seems, slowly broke her spirit, and the overwhelming pressure to produce an heir became too much [http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/674/books.asp] .

References

ee also

*Chamberlain of Japan

External links

* [http://www.kunaicho.go.jp/eindex.html Kunaicho Homepage]
* [http://www.kunaicho.go.jp/e15/ed15-01.html Kunaicho | History]


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