Japan mayor vows no name change for Charlotte the monkey
08 May 2015, 14:24
Tokyo - A Japanese zoo that caused a furore by naming a baby
monkey after Britain's Princess Charlotte has been told to stick to its guns by
the local mayor after two days of fraught debate.
Mt Takasaki Wild Monkey Park in Oita was flooded with complaints
after announcing on Wednesday that the public had voted for a newborn macaque
to be called Charlotte, just days after Britain's royal family named its newest
With the story making headlines around the world on Thursday, the
zoo offered an apology for any offence caused to the daughter of Prince William
and his wife Kate.
More than 500 people got in touch with the monkey park over two
days to voice an opinion on the name, with early correspondents urging them to
"Initially opinions were mostly complaints saying it is
disrespectful to the British people, then voices supporting the name began to
increase, with some saying it was okay because the baby monkey is cute,"
an official in Oita, southwestern Japan, said.
As the controversy raged online, on television and in the
newspapers, local officials even sought the opinion of the British embassy in
Tokyo – who offered no comment – before Mayor Kiichiro Sato ended the confusion
with a definitive ruling.
"I think the public gave it the very pretty name Charlotte, and
I don't think there is any problem with it, so we'll go with Charlotte,"
Sato told reporters.
Japanese society places great emphasis on not offending anybody in
an effort to maintain "wa" or harmony. This frequently results in the
kind of paralysis of the decision-making process – two days of debate –
Mt Takasaki Wild Monkey Park asks for suggestions for the name of
the first macaque monkey born every year.
This year's poll, in which 853 votes were recorded, saw a sudden
surge of people suggesting "Charlotte" after the British princess was
named earlier this week.
Complainants said it was disrespectful to name a monkey after a
foreign royal, with some suggesting that Japanese people would be offended if a
British zoo used the name of a member of Japan's imperial family for one of its
But commentators on the websites of major British newspapers
suggested the locals were made of sterner stuff.
"Seriously, who cares? Name the next one George (the name of
Charlotte's elder brother). It's of zero consequence to any of us," wrote
user Zeeeel on theguardian.com
It is not the first time an animal has been named after the issue
of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge: during a royal tour of Australia last
year, then-months-old baby Prince George visited Sydney's Taronga Zoo to meet
one of its bilbies – a kind of marsupial – that had been named in his honour.