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Author of 'Princess Masako' criticizes Kodansha

10, 04. 2007

   Princess Masako, which the publisher Kodansha announced in February 2007 that it would not go ahead with the planned publication in the wake of protest by the Foreign Ministry and the Imperial Household Agency that the book distorted facts, was published by the different publisher Dai-san Shokan in September 2007. After the publication, Ben Hills, journalist and author of the book, and Akira Kitagawa, president of Dai-san Shokan, gave a press conference at the Foreign Correspondent Club of Japan at Yurakucho in Tokyo.

Ben Hills criticizing Kodansha
Ben Hills criticizing Kodansha

   The original version of the book was published in 2006 in Australia. It contained passages to the effect that Princess Masako was not suffering from an adjustment disorder but a serious depression and that Princess Aiko was born by IVF. These passages shocked the public and became focal points of talks. In early February 2007, the Foreign Ministry and the Imperial Household Agency protested to the publisher and the author of the book that some parts of the book utterly ran counter to the facts and insulted the Imperial Household. The ministry and the agency demanded apology from the publisher and the author. Hills then replied he had no intention of apologizing. At that time, the book was to be published in Japanese by Kodansha in March 2007. Kodansha took a serious view of Hills' reaction, however, and announced on Feb. 16 that it had decided not to go on with the publication on the ground that it was unable to keep its trust relationship with the publisher of the book in original and the author.

   A "completely translated version" of the book was published after all by Dai-san Shokan in September to save the book from being shelved indefinitely. Hills' anger does not seem to be calmed down, however, and claimed that Kodansha had deleted passages at 149 places from the original without his permission.

   Kitagawa said at the press conference that six major Japanese newspaper companies refused to carry advertisement of Princess Masako.

   The book was published in Taiwan earlier than in Japan, and 50,000 copies were sold there to become the best seller. A number of reporters from Taiwan attended the press conference to indicate their interest in the matter. The book is in the process of publication also in China, Indonesia, Turkey, Poland and Romania. A total of 30,000 copies of the book have been printed in Japan, of which about 10,000 copies are said to have already been sold.

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