The Guardian (via) reports that Ben Hills, the author of a controversial biography of Crown Princess Masako has accused the Japanese government of censorship after newspapers refused to carry advertisements for the book.
The English version of Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne was published in February, sparking protests from the Japanese foreign ministry and the imperial household agency, which accused the author of insulting the royal family. The Japanese translation of the book was scrapped, but the English version was released in Japan three weeks ago.
Hills, an Australian journalist, claims that Masako, who gave up a promising diplomatic career to marry the heir to the throne, Crown Prince Naruhito, in 1993, is suffering from clinical depression.
This has become a freedom of speech issue, Hills said during a visit to Tokyo. I dont care whether the Japanese people like my book or not - they should have the chance to read it and make up their own minds. This is what the foreign ministry and imperial household agency were trying to prevent.
The books publisher in Japan, Daisan Shokan, was refused advertising space in all of the major newspapers, including the Asahi Shimbun, which positions itself as the countrys leading liberal voice. One paper said it would not take an ad because [Hills] had not responded to the government protests, said Daisan Shokans president, Akira Kitagawa. I find that reasoning very strange.
Hills said he had received threatening emails ahead of the Japanese publication of the book, and Daisan Shokan has also been the target of intimidation by ultra-nationalist groups.
The foreign ministry, predictably, denied there had been pressure on newspapers from it or the royal household.