The Daily Manila Shimbun


Ex-Classmate predicts new emperor may be active on social media

May 2, 2019

Tokyo--A former classmate of new Emperor Naruhito has described him as having a good sense of humor and a charming personality, as well as being interested in new things, saying that he could become the first Japanese monarch to be active on social media.

"I had imagined he was a super-serious boring guy," Akihiko Imai, 59, recalled. This prejudice disappeared from his mind soon after he entered Gakushuin Boys' Junior High School and met the new Emperor 47 years ago.

During his junior high school days, Emperor Naruhito was nicknamed "jii," a Japanese word for an old man, after he voiced admiration for a "bonsai" ornamental miniature tree, according to Imai. The traditional art of bonsai is considered a hobby of mainly elderly men in Japan.

Responding to the nickname in a humorous manner, Emperor Naruhito played Bach's "Air on the G String" on violin at a graduation party, mindful of the similar pronunciations of "jii" and G.

Imai also said the new Emperor "appears to have a drive to adopt something trendy."

"In this information era, the Emperor may use social media and other online networks," the former classmate said.

Imai spent time with Emperor Naruhito, who took the throne on Wednesday, until their graduation from Gakushuin University.

Their friendship continues, with Imai and other former classmates, and their families visiting the Emperor's residence at the Akasaka Estate on Jan. 3 every year and having a pleasant time together.

At last year's gathering, the atmosphere was a little different, with Emperor Naruhito, then Crown Prince, asked when he made up his mind about being the Emperor and what he considers to be the ideal Emperor.

Imai quoted Emperor Naruhito as saying in response that he had been gradually getting ready to assume the throne as he continued watching his grandfather, former Emperor Hirohito, posthumously called Emperor Showa, and his father, just-retired Emperor Akihito, who now holds the title of Emperor Emeritus.

Emperor Naruhito also said that it is important to take time to meet people and talk with them, according to Imai. Jiji Press