[ti:New Rulers Bring Royal Family Closer to Ordinary Japanese]
[00:00.44]Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako
[00:06.46]are bringing changes to one of the world's oldest royal families.
[00:13.80]The two have spoken with foreign visitors in English.
[00:18.72]They laugh with children and even play with dogs.
[00:24.04]They are Japan's first emperor and empress to have earned university degrees.
[00:31.64]They speak several languages and have years of experience of living overseas.
[00:40.12]At one time, the future emperor even washed his own clothes.
[00:47.12]Six months after starting their official duties,
[00:51.04]they appear to be making Japan's royal family more international
[00:57.28]and bringing it closer to the lives of average citizens.
[01:04.04]They have also surprised many Japanese who worried they might have trouble
[01:10.81]taking the place of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
[01:17.60]They were worried about Empress Masako,
[01:20.87]who has struggled for years with what officials call an "adjustment disorder."
[01:29.24]"Though the previous emperor and empress were seen as being close to the people,
[01:35.48]these two seem even closer," said Hideya Kawanishi.
[01:40.94]She is an assistant history professor at Nagoya University.
[01:48.40]Emperor Naruhito is the first Japanese ruler to be cared for by his mother
[01:55.25]instead of being raised by nurses and teachers.
[02:00.28]His parents made efforts to give him a normal childhood,
[02:04.24]including sending him to school with food for lunch.
[02:10.52]He earned a degree from Gakushuin University where he studied water systems.
[02:18.04]He then spent two years at the University of Oxford,
[02:22.48]which he said were some of the best years of his life
[02:27.88]He later married Masako Owada, a diplomat,
[02:32.01]following objections to his choice from officials.
[02:37.08]The two have one daughter, 17-year-old Aiko
[02:42.07]who, as a woman, cannot take the Chrysanthemum Throne.
[02:48.36]The royal couple's overseas experience was evident when they held a dinner
[02:53.87]for U.S. President Donald Trump soon after they took power.
[02:59.68]They spoke to Trump and his wife, Melania, in English,
[03:04.20]only later agreeing to use an interpreter because of official rules.
[03:10.92]The emperor and empress speak English so well,
[03:14.40]it is clear they have lived internationally, Kawanishi said.
[03:19.76]The couple seems a world away from the traditional behavior of the past.
[03:26.72]Emperor Naruhito has agreed to have his picture taken
[03:31.37]with members of the public while traveling overseas.
[03:36.16]In Japan, he and his wife recently laughed with children
[03:41.00]and played with dogs during a visit to a dog shelter.
[03:47.32]"This is not something you could imagine the previous imperial couple ever doing,
[03:52.95]at least not so naturally," Kawanishi said.
[03:59.20]Empress Masako's struggles with her adjustment disorder and official duties.
[04:06.40]She lived a very private life for the past 10 years,
[04:11.11]but now she is an empress with a quick smile.
[04:15.16]The Japanese public seems to have forgotten about her health issues.
[04:21.76]"Of course, her health is a mental issue so there are ups and downs,
[04:26.81]but worries have rather faded," said Hidehiko Kasahara,
[04:32.60]a professor at Keio University who specializes in royal issues.
[04:40.24]Empress Masako may have more responsibilities,
[04:44.16]but taking the throne may also give her more freedom because she is now the empress.
[04:51.24]"The fact that she can act as she wants means there is less stress.
[04:56.80]Rather, it's a plus for her recovery," Kasahara said.
[05:02.48]For now, she and the emperor appear to be moving slowly as they take on their official duties.
[05:11.37]I'm Susan Shand. 更多聽力請訪問51VOA.COM