Former imperial family member writes book

Former imperial family member writes book

Hiroaki Fushimi, a member of the former imperial family, in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward in June, Koichiro Yoshida Hiroaki Fushimi has led a double life first as a member of the imperial family and then as a commoner after World War II.

Fushimi, 90, recently published a book whose title is tentatively translated as Born to the Fushimi family, the head of the former imperial family houses. In the book, the former prince expressed loyalty to the imperial family and the government if he is enlisted to help by returning to the imperial family.

We would have no choice but to follow if the emperor, as well as the government, tells us to return to the imperial family, Fushimi noted in the book.

The comment caused a stir as he appeared to have a positive stand on returning to the imperial family. The book was published in January after a panel of experts submitted a report to the government late last year that discussed measures to secure sufficient members of the ever-shrinking imperial family.

One of the proposals was to allow male offspring on the male line belonging to the imperial lineage, such as those in the Fushimi and other families, to regain their royal status by law.

Fushimi took a more cautious stance when asked about his views during a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun.

There are different views, he said. I am going to see how future discussions will go. The root of his family dates back about 600 years to the son of the emperor.

The Fushimi house is the head of 11 former imperial family houses.

Fushimi grew up in the sprawling family estate in central Tokyo, where Hotel New Otani is now located until it was burned down during U.S. air raids during the war.

He took refuge with Crown Prince Akihito in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo during the war.

Fushimi became the head of the Fushimi house at 14 after the death of his grandfather in 1946.

His grandfather, Prince Hiroyasu, was a top commander of the Imperial Japanese Navy, leading the General Staff. The prince was a strong advocate for war against the United States and Britain.

When Japan defeated in the war appeared to be a matter of time, Hiroyasu grew visibly dispirited.

When a sinking was announced, his grandfather crossed a line through pictures of warships in his room.

Fushimi recalled his grandfather saying, We don't have many warships left. Japan is at the end of its rope. After Japan's defeat in 1947 all 11 houses were stripped of their membership in the imperial family and became commoners.

He later traveled to the United States to study, hoping to become a diplomat. After his return to Japan, he was able to hold a position with an oil company.

Although he was no longer a member of the imperial family, employees of a prospective business partner that he pitched a business deal to were aware of his background and treated him to dinner while addressing him as Prince. The book developed from a series of interviews he gave to a researcher who asked him about his life, including his close exchanges with Emperor Emeritus Akihito at the encouragement of Akihito's wife, now Empress Emerita Michiko.

Michiko called him to express her gratitude when he sent a copy of the book to her. She said that the book allowed her to get a glimpse into her husband's life before they were married.