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Tuesday, August 21, 2007 6:30 pm

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Australian author of Princess Masako biography receives death threats

Ben Hills, the Australian journalist who wrote a controversial biography of Japan’s Crown Princess Masako, has received death threats ahead of the September release of the Japanese translation of his book, according to a Kyodo News report.

Hills said he had received the anonymous death threats via email. “They were saying things like, ‘Die white pork!’ They were quite racist,” Hills said.

The book, titled “Princess Masako, Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne”,  has already been a success throughout the English speaking world and large parts of Asia, but its controversial suggestions that Crown Princess Masako conceived her daughter, Princess Aiko, through in vitro fertilization and was driven to a nervous breakdown by the pressure from the royal household has given the book problems in Japan. An ad for the book was refused by the national daily Asahi Shimbun, who said it was disrespectful to the royal family.

The book was originally scheduled to be published in Japan by publisher Kodansha, but after they suddenly pulled out in February, the book was picked up by the Tokyo-based Daisan-Shokan. The publisher has also reported being targeted in protests by right-wing nationalist groups. In an email to the author, the publisher wrote: “Just now, two black cars with ultra-nationalistic slogans on them are parking besides the building where my company address is. They are shouting hysterically ‘Stop the publication of Princess Masako’ with huge loud speakers. Policemen are just watching them and let them do as much as they want to do.“

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