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Japan’s royal family is now on Instagram. The world’s oldest monarchy made the social media debut on Monday, 15 years after Britain’s royal family joined the microblogging platform X (formerly known as Twitter) in 2009. The move aims to shake off their reclusive image and reach out to the younger generation on social media, reported AP.

The Imperial Household Agency (IHA), the state-run agency in charge of the royal family’s affairs, posted 60 photos and five videos showing Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako’s public appearances performing official duties over the past three months.

The IHA said the agency wanted the public to have a better understanding of the royal family’s official duties. They chose Instagram because of its popularity among youth. 

It is important to note that in 2023, the IHA set up a team of experts to study the effects of using social media on the royal family.

Experts say social media could help bring the royal family closer to the people and give the agency the ability to control the narrative and respond to disinformation, but concerns over how the world’s oldest monarchy can be friendly without losing its nobility or avoid blowups remain.

The first photo published was of the imperial couple sitting on a sofa with their 22-year-old daughter Princess Aiko, all smiling as they marked New Year’s Day. Other postings also included the Imperial couple’s meetings with foreign dignitaries, including Brunei Crown Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah his wife.

A video of Naruhito addressing well-wishers during his February 23 birthday celebrations garnered over 21,000 views in less than a day.

By Monday evening, their verified account Kunaicho_jp had more than 322,000 followers.

 

So far, the images posted are formally staged photos and videos of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako carrying out royal duties at recent public appearances. The posts do not include private or candid moments.

The IHA further said it was considering adding activities of other royal members.

The royal account Kunaicho_jp doesn’t follow anyone nor interact with the public. The Users can only press the “like” button and no comments on posts are allowed.

“It’s nice we get to see a bit of their activities because we hardly know what they are doing,” AP quoted Koki Yoneura, a 21-year-old student. “It’s good that they seem to be a bit closer to us.”

Yukino Yoshiura, also a student, said she was excited to see more posts about Princess Aiko. “Aiko-sama is close to our age and just graduated from university, so I’m very happy to be able to see her images,” she said while calling the princess with the respectful honorific “sama.”

Naruhito’s father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito — who abdicated the throne in 2019 — and his wife were popular during their time. But currently, the royal family’s fans largely belong to older generations.

The agency had become cautious after the Emperor’s niece Mako Komuro and her commoner husband faced a severe backlash on social media and in tabloids following concerns over her mother-in-law’s financial situation, causing her marriage to be delayed. She also declined to receive a dowry as her union was not fully celebrated by the public.

The former princess said, at the time, she suffered psychological trauma because of the media bashing, including those online.

 

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Published: 01 Apr 2024, 06:33 PM IST

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