On Tuesday, the granddaughter of Michiko, Emperor of Japan, Princess Mako, 30, announced her marriage to a common man after giving up her royal title. Her husband is in a small one-room apartment.

Earlier this month, the imperial family revealed that Princess Mako suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to persistent public disapproval of her common-law fiancé Kei Komuro.

"She feels that she is a worthless person and that her human dignity has been trampled," Princess Mako's psychiatrist told a press conference.

By giving up the royal title, her future children will also be deprived of royal titles and privileges, and despite the attack on Mako with her association with Kei, whose intentions the local Japanese press doubts, they won their love that spanned more than 4 years since the announcement of their engagement, and their marriage was postponed. Several times because Key's mother was involved in unpaid financial debts.

In a report published by the American newspaper "The New York Times", writers Motoko Reish and Hikari Hida say that women in the Japanese royal family are subject to harsh pressures not only from the media and public opinion, but also from the court officials who run their daily lives.

Although women are not qualified to take the throne in Japan, the criticism leveled at them seems harsher than the criticism of the men of the royal family, according to the two writers.

"The queen has to maintain good grooming, and devote herself to childbearing after marriage, and she must perform many functions perfectly without any errors," says Rika Kayama, a professor and psychiatrist at Rikkyu University in Tokyo.

Although two women ran for prime minister in the recent ruling party leadership elections, and some companies made great efforts to get more women into senior positions, women in Japan are still absent from boards of directors, parliament, and prestigious universities, and Japanese society still treats women as They are second-class citizens - according to the two writers - and are not allowed to have separate family names.

The criticism leveled at Princess Mako on social media is similar to what Japanese women experience when they speak out about sexual abuse, unfair treatment and their rights that are not recognized by society.

“There is an idea that the imperial family is timeless and not part of modern society,” says Mihoko Suzuki, founding director of the Center for the Humanities at the University of Miami, adding that traditionalists in Japanese society want to “highlight the stability and comfort this idea provides about gender roles.”

Michiko became the first commoner to marry a member of the ruling family in centuries (Reuters)

shackles of history

After the nation was freed from the "shackles of history" in wartime, Michiko became the first commoner to marry a member of the dynasty in centuries.

Rather than handing her children over to imperial servants to raise them, she took care of them herself, accompanied her husband Akihito as he traveled in Japan and abroad, and humanized the imperial family by talking to disaster victims and people with disabilities.

But when she renovated the imperial residence and wore many new clothes, the press reported that the family members and her mother-in-law did not consider her respectable enough as the emperor's wife.

In 1963, Michiko underwent an abortion and stayed for more than two months in a separate home, and it was speculated that she suffered a nervous breakdown and severe stress, which led to the loss of her voice, and did not recover until months later.

The writers add that her daughter-in-law, Masako, a Harvard graduate and a promising diplomat, was later seen as a role model for young women working in Japan, who could help change the traditions of the royal family.

But Japanese society has instead focused on analyzing Masako's every activity, and its potential impact on her ability to reproduce.

After the miscarriage, Princess Aiko gave birth, to the disappointment of those who wanted a male heir. The family restricted her travel, forcing her to withdraw from her public duties, and issued a statement saying she was suffering from "accumulated mental and physical exhaustion".

Pressure on Princess Mako

In recent days, pressure has been mounting on Princess Mako, as the Japanese want her to live up to royal expectations even though she will have to leave the family after her marriage. The princess has faced sharp criticism for choosing to marry her fiancé Komuro.

Under Japanese law, Mako will lose her imperial status once marriage papers are submitted.

"It is very strange that the Japanese think that they should interfere in any way in choosing a spouse," says Kenneth Rove, a historian and specialist on the Japanese imperial family at Portland State University.

Japanese Princess Mako, daughter of Crown Prince Akishino, before her marriage in Tokyo (Reuters)

Princess Mako's father, Crown Prince Akishino, refused to consent to the marriage after the engagement was announced in 2017, saying he wanted the public to accept and bless the marriage.

In the end, Akishino acquiesced to his daughter's desire, but negative comments continued in the press and social media, in a way that affected the lives of the couple.

Protesters marched in Ginza, a popular shopping district, carrying signs that read "Do not pollute the imperial family with this damned marriage" and "Respect your responsibilities before marriage."

A writer in the Japanese magazine "Gendai Business" expressed her anger at the choice of Princess Mako, saying that she would "disgrace Japan internationally", and some on Twitter described her as a "tax thief" even though she decided to give up a royal dowry worth $ 1.4 million. .

Some accused her of lying about her post-traumatic stress disorder, with one Twitter user tweeting, "The public will question your credibility if you announce in a few months that you've improved."

According to the two writers, it is inevitable to compare what happened to Princess Mako with what happened in the British royal family. Before her marriage to Prince Harry, Megan Markle was subjected to a fierce campaign because of her family's roots, and she suffered from depression and eating disorders.

Like Meghan and Harry, Princess Mako and her fiancé Komuro, a Fordham Law graduate, are expected to flee to the United States, where Komuro will work in a New York law firm.

Just as Harry and Meghan's public speaking about their mental health issues opened the door to a serious debate in Britain, Princess Mako may open the door for women in Japan's royal family to speak frankly on this sensitive issue.