Japan’s Royal Family—the World’s Oldest Monarchy—Attempts to Appeal to the Youth of Its Country By (Finally) Joining Instagram

 Japanese Royal Family.
Japanese Royal Family.
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In an attempt at appealing to the youth of the country, Japan’s royal family has launched an Instagram account, NBC News reports, writing that “The world’s oldest monarchy made its social media debut Monday [April 1] in a bid to shake off its image as reclusive and out of touch.”

Japanese Royal Family
Japanese Royal Family

The Japanese Imperial Family’s Instagram launch features Bonsai trees and birthday gatherings—"a cautious first step into the world of social media that may disappoint those hoping for a candid glimpse into their veiled world,” NBC News reports. By the end of its first day, the account had 320,000 followers; at press time of this story, the follower account had reached 579,000.

In an impressive 20 pictures published over a span of just a few hours, the account highlights the royal family’s first three months of 2024, from a New Year’s celebration to a royal birthday. Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako, and their daughter Princess Aiko make appearances throughout the content, attending royal engagements and meeting officials. The account has blocked comments on all of its posts.

Japanese Royal Family
Japanese Royal Family

The Japanese royal family is considered to be the world’s oldest monarchy and said it is trying to reach out to younger generations by posting on Instagram; it is also considering opening accounts on Facebook and X in the future.

“Since the Imperial Family is built on the consensus of the people, we hope this will deepen the understanding amongst young people who will lead the next generation,” said Mariko Fujiwara, head of public relations for the Imperial Household Agency.

Japanese Royal Family
Japanese Royal Family

The Japanese royal family, by the way, is not immune to a scandal of its own, as its British counterparts have faced thanks to posts to social media this year. (One word: Photogate.) Princess Mako, the niece of popular former Emperor Naruhito, married a commoner (something the British have been known to do, as well) and dramatically exited royal life, ultimately ending up in the U.S. (New York City specifically). Sound like anyone you know? Mako gave up her royal status to marry Kei Komuro and turned down a lump sum payment of about $1.3 million that female royals receive when marrying outside of the Imperial Family.

Japanese Royal Family
Japanese Royal Family

The Imperial Household Agency is an “extremely conservative institution,” said Jeffrey Hall, a Japanese studies lecturer at Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, southeast of Japan’s capital city of Tokyo. “They’d consider humorous or entertaining social media posts featuring the Imperial Family as degrading their dignity.” For now, the Japanese royal family “seems fine with change taking place at a snail’s pace,” he said: “Conservative Japanese fans of the imperial couple will probably be satisfied with the respectful and dignified tone of these Instagram posts,” Hall said.

For context, the Japanese royal family made its social media debut a full 15 years after the British royal family did the same, joining X (formerly known as Twitter) back in 2009.