Press Conference by His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince on the Occasion of His Visit to Mongolia(2007)

Press Conference

Press Conference on the Occasion of His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince Visit to Mongolia(2007)

Date:July 6, 2007

At the Residence

Questions from the Imperial Household Agency Press Club

Question 1
This will be Your Imperial Highness' first visit to Mongolia. Please tell us about your impressions of Mongolia and your aspirations for this visit. The visit comes about one month after your surgery. Please also tell us about the progress you have made since the surgery and how you intend to look after your health during the visit, during which you will likely be welcomed with traditional foods and alcoholic beverages.
Answer 1

I am very happy to make my first visit to Mongolia at the invitation of H.E. Mr. President Nambaryn Enkhbayar. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the president for his invitation.

Mongolia and Japan share deep ethnic and historical relationships and I have always had a great interest in the country. I was introduced to Mongolia for the first time as a child through reading a children's book entitled Suho and the White Horse. The book is a story about the history of the morinhuur, or horse harp, a Mongolian folk instrument, and, although it was a sad tale, I still remember it as being a very good story.

Thinking about Mongolia from an historical standpoint, Genghis Khan, who unified the Mongol people, and the two Mongolian attempts to invade Japan in the 13th century are well known. On a trip to Kyushu for a seminar on Japanese Middle Age history during the third year of my university studies, I viewed fortifications built in preparation for these Mongolian invasions of Japan and the tombs used to mourn Mongol soldiers. However, we should not forget that during those same times the travel of people and trade of goods between Mongolia, then Yuan, and Japan were both actively taking place. Many Zen monks traveled between Yuan and Japan, and it is said that in 14th century more than100 people traveled to Yuan from Japan, and more than 30 monks came to Japan from Yuan. Moreover, in regards to trade, Kubla Khan of Yuan permitted trade with Japan in 1278, a year between the two Mongolian invasions. Trading vessels were actually dispatched during the 14th century for the construction of Kenchoji Temple and the Great Buddha in Kamakura.

Furthermore, in 1976 a huge amount of Chinese ceramics and bronze coins were found in a sunken ship from the first half of the 14th century that was recovered offshore of Shinan, close to Mokpo in the southwest of the Republic of Korea. It is assumed from the cargo the ship was carrying that it was a Japanese trade ship dispatched to Yuan to fund the reconstruction costs of Tofukuji Temple in Kyoto, which had burned down. Furthermore, it is also well known that in the middle of the 14th century after the start of the Muromachi Shogunate, the Tenryuji Ships were dispatched from Japan to Yuan to fund the construction costs for Tenryuji Temple, built to pray for the repose of the soul of Emperor Godaigo.

I have researched the Middle Age maritime history of Japan myself, and I am happy to be able to visit Mongolia, a country with such a history of exchanging people and goods with Japan across the oceans during the Middle Ages.

I hear that Mongolia has changed greatly in little over ten years through its process of democratization. Japan's relationship with Mongolia has also greatly progressed in the realms of politics, economics and culture. I am told that Mongolia is very friendly towards Japan, and Mongolia's popularity is increasing among Japanese citizens because of such phenomena as the success of professional sumo wrestlers from Mongolia. In these circumstances, thanks to the invitation of H.E. Mr. President Enkhbayar, I am very grateful to be able to visit Mongolia during the celebration of Naadam, Mongolia's largest festival. I hope that this visit will help to enhance the friendly relationship between Japan and Mongolia. At the same time, I am told that Mongolia is a country with much natural beauty. On my first visit to Mongolia, I would like to take the opportunity to deepen my understanding of the country's natural features, history and culture.

This year marks the "Year of Japan in Mongolia," and I am told various events are being held to introduce Japan to Mongolia. Moreover, this year also marks the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Mongolia-Japan Center.

I am told that in addition to the activities of the Mongolia-Japan Center, Japan is cooperating in the development of Mongolia in various fields . Members of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) dispatched to Mongolia play an important part in this cooperation. Every time JOCV members are dispatched abroad, I meet with them before their departure. I hope that during my upcoming visit I will be able to meet the JOCV members working diligently in Mongolia and hear their accounts of their activities.

I would like to express my thanks to all of the Japanese people for their worries in light of my polyp surgery. My progress following the surgery is continuing favorably, and I have resumed light jogging and playing tennis for a short time. This will be my first stay in Mongolia, for a week. The climate and traditions may differ from those of Japan. I will pay attention to my physical health each day. I also have dietary restrictions regarding spices and alcohol, and therefore will be careful. However, I am looking forward to enjoying traditional Mongolian dishes and beverages.

Question 2
The Government of Mongolia extended an invitation to both of Your Imperial Highnesses, but Her Imperial Highness Crown Princess Masako is not going to accompany on the visit. Please tell us about the circumstances behind her forgoing the visit and about her health. Moreover, please tell us your thoughts on future overseas visits by Your Imperial Highnesses and the promotion of international goodwill.
Answer 2

Princess Masako greatly appreciates the invitation by the Government of Mongolia. She and I both deeply regret that she cannot honor the invitation. This visit involves a long stay and quite a few events that must be attended successively, which the doctors consider may be difficult for her to accomplish. Based on all of this, we have decided that I will visit Mongolia alone.

As I have said previously, I believe that overseas visits are important opportunities to foster good will between Japan and other countries. Attending international conferences like the World Water Forum last year in Mexico is a valuable way of contributing to society. We look forward to take advantage of these occasions in a positive manner.

Question from The Foreign Press in Japan

Question 3
I have heard that Her Imperial Highness Crown Princess Masako has unfortunately given up accompanying Your Imperial Highness to Mongolia because her health remains unfavorable. In an announcement in 2004, it was said that Her Imperial Highness was suffering from "adjustment disorder," which, according to its medical definition, requires a recovery time of six months or less. How are her doctors diagnosing her condition now that three years have passed since the announcement? Furthermore, what are the prospects of Her Imperial Highness recovering to a level at which she is able to once again accompany Your Imperial Highnesses on overseas visits like the one to Mongolia?
Answer 3

I have heard that the doctors consider Princess Masako's condition to be still in need of treatment, as was indicated in the "Comments of the Doctors to the Crown Prince's Household" announced last December. Princess Masako is putting forth her utmost effort while keeping an eye on her condition. Most recently, she was able to engage in activities of a public nature in Nagano Prefecture, including the attendance of a ceremony and an overnight stay for the first time in quite some time. She has also been able to participate in events at the Crown Prince's Palace. With these developments, I feel that the range of her activities has been expanding in an evident manner.

Despite her gradual improvements, she is still in the process of completely recovering. Her doctors have decided that she still requires more time including a preparation period before she becomes able to make an overseas visit. While Princess Masako feels grateful for the expectations the people embrace for her, given these circumstances, I ask for the understanding of the people of Japan and that they be patient with Crown Princess Masako's situation. Concerning "adjustment disorder," as referred to in the question, I was told by the doctors that only acute cases can be cured within six months of time.

Related Question 1
My question refers to the decision for Her Imperial Highness Crown Princess Masako to forgo accompanying Your Imperial Highness to Mongolia. Your Imperial Highness spoke of Princess Masako's gradual recovery, while for the past few years Princess Masako has repeatedly forgone attending visits with Your Imperial Highness upon discussions with doctors. For this time, has there been any positive prospect as compared to the previous few years, even though her attendance on the upcoming visit has been forgone just as in the past? Or is the latest decision to forgo accompanying Your Imperial Highness based on the fact that the possibility of her accompanying you on a visit has remained unchanged for the past few years? I would appreciate it if we could learn a little more about these aspects.
Answer 1

As I have said earlier, I have observed that the range of her activities has been expanding in an evident manner in her official activities. However, for a visit that involves a long stay and events that must be attended successively, I have come to this final conclusion upon consultation with her doctors, who consider that the visit may be difficult for her, taking into account various comprehensive conditions. These are the circumstances that have regrettably resulted in the Crown Princess' forgoing the visit.

Related Question 2
We presume that during your stay in Mongolia, Your Imperial Highness will enjoy an exhibition of Mongolian sumo. Do you share talks with Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko, who loves sumo herself, about what you are going to see?
Answer 2

I have told Princess Aiko that I will be away for about one week starting next week. I have been telling her that I will be going to the land where Asashoryu and Hakuho are from, and this seems to have stimulated her strong interest in Mongolia.

unofficial translation