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Monday, October 21, 2019, 11:00 - 12:00


Ken Ruoff, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Japanese Studies at Portland State University

Language: The speech and Q & A will be in English.


"Japan's Monarchy and the New Emperor in Historical Perspective"


Emperor Naruhito will be officially enthroned in a ceremony, attended by dignitaries from 190 countries and seen by an audience of millions around the world. What can we expect from the head of the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy? University educated and multilingual, Naruhito is expected to follow the path of his father, Akihito, who helped lift the institution out of the shadow cast by his own father, Emperor Hirohito. But he faces a forbidding list of issues.

Top of the list is the monarchy's succession crisis. With just a handful of male heirs left, many want the law changed to allow a female monarch. But traditionalists bitterly resisted that move the last time it was attempted over a decade ago. Naruhito must also shelter his wife Masako from the pressures of her role. In 2004, Naruhito famously said that Masako, a former diplomat, "had completely exhausted herself" trying to adapt to life in the imperial family.

Naruhito has pledged to abide by the constitution and fulfill his responsibility "as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people of Japan." That may have been a warning shot to those who would expand the political role of the family. His biggest struggle, however, may be keeping himself relevant: many young people profess little interest in the imperial family.

The FCCJ is pleased to welcome Japanese monarchy expert Kenneth Ruoff to help unpack these issues. His book, The People's Emperor: Democracy and the Japanese Monarchy, 1945-1995 was awarded the Osaragi Jiro Prize for Commentary, Japan's equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book, Imperial Japan at its Zenith: The Wartime Celebration of the Empire's 2600th Anniversary won the 2012 Frances Fuller Victor Award for Non-Fiction.

Doors open for TV crews only at 10:15, all others at 10:30. Please reserve in advance, 3211-3161 or on the website (still & TV cameras inclusive). Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation. Livestreaming of press conferences are available on our website.

*Due to space restrictions, please note there will be a limited number of reservations to attend. FCCJ members, including TV cameras, will have priority for the reservation and seating/setting positions and one TV camera for affiliate networks.

Professional Activities Committee


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