Australian journalist refuses to apologize over Princess Masako book
Wednesday, February 14, 2007 at 16:58 EST
TOKYO — An Australian journalist refused Wednesday to bow to the Japanese government's demand that he apologize for "groundless claims" he allegedly made in a book he wrote about Crown Princess Masako.
Instead, Ben Hills, an award-winning investigative reporter, went on the attack, saying the Japanese government's reaction to the book, which was released in Australia last November, has been "bizarre, unprofessional and bewildering."
"I regard this as an attempt by the Japanese government to suppress and censor my book and I think it is absolutely outrageous," he said.
On Monday, diplomats from the Japanese Embassy in Canberra delivered letters to Hills and local publisher Random House Australia, protesting about the contents of his book "Princess Masako, Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne."
A Japanese-language edition of the book is due to be published by Kodansha Ltd in early March.
The letters said the book was defamatory and contained "disrespectful descriptions, distortion of facts and judgmental assertions...pertaining to the birth of Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko and the physical conditions of Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess Masako."
The Japanese government is demanding an apology and corrections. But Hills said he was yet to be given details about which parts of his book were wrong or inaccurate.
"They (the letters) really didn't specify anything in particular they were complaining about," he said. "They were just a complete, widespread rave. It was most unprofessional."
After questioning the diplomats, Hills said he was told one of the defamatory aspects of his book was his claim that Princess Masako's daughter, Princess Aiko, was conceived by in vitro fertilization.
The claim was widely reported in the international press but ignored by the local media, Hills said.
"The Japanese public has been kept in the dark for all these years about what has been going on behind the moat and I have written this book that is highly critical of the Imperial Household agency," he said. "The bureaucrats are just scrambling to protect themselves from criticism."
Hills said he would not be apologizing and plans to go ahead with the book's publication in Japan.
"There is nothing to apologize for. In fact, there is only one person in this saga that deserves an apology and that's Princess Masako. I think the Kunaicho (Imperial Household Agency) should apologize to her for bullying her into a state of nervous breakdown."