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Online savvy young Japanese feel no affinity for imperial family, survey shows

Analysts suggest the trend reflects broader societal shifts and the dominance of digital media in shaping young people’s perceptions, reducing their exposure to symbols of national identity.

The survey was conducted by The Nippon Foundation in May and asked 1,000 Japanese aged between 17 and 19 about their attitudes on the issue, with 55.7 per cent saying they have little or no interest in the imperial family and 53.4 per cent saying they have no sense of closeness to the emperor or his family.

Nearly half of those who expressed no interest in the imperial family could not think of any way to promote such interest among young people. Other respondents have suggested that individual members of the family might generate greater interest by engaging with the public through social media.

Yoshihisa Nagasaku was not questioned for the survey but, as a 17-year-old student from Yokohama, said the findings aligned with his opinions on the issue.

“I never see or read anything about them so I do not think I know them in any way,” he told This Week in Asia.

“I have exams coming up so I have to focus on that, but when I have free time I spend it with my friends,” he said. “I do not think I have ever talked about the imperial family with them.”

Nagasaku said he received news on his mobile phone rather than from traditional media sources and said the last time he saw the emperor on television was at his coronation in October 2019.

The results of the survey come as a surprise as the Japanese have been longtime supporters of the imperial family and its members. Thousands turned out to watch the festivities surrounding the coronation of Emperor Naruhito in 2019 and his wedding to Masako Owada in 1993, with many millions more watching both events