t’s late 2001 and Crown Princess Masako of Japan is having a baby. Her husband, Crown Prince Naruhito, is heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne, the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy. Sinking into its fourth recession in a decade, Japan hungers for good news and hopes Masako might have a boy. The Imperial Household Law of 1947 decreed that only men could assume the throne as emperor.The doubleness of the term “confinement” – imprisonment and childbirth – seems especially apt for Masako. Though she lives secluded in a palace, she is such an object of scrutiny that she may as well reside in a glass cube at the centre of Shibuya crossing.Nine months pregnant myself, I watch this fertility saga of a woman caught between medieval dynasties and 21st century celebrity unfold from Singapore, where we are living. It’s so humid there, I don’t feel as if I have a mini oven inside me; I am the oven. But, I think, at least I’m not going through this with millions of eyes upon me, like Princess Masako.Looking back now, I would have given birth on the Shibuya crossing if doing so would have changed the outcome for my baby.


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