Japan Dress Them In Mourning

As Hirohito's health declines, the mood turns somber

As Japan went through the third week of its death watch over the failing 87- year-old Emperor Hirohito, government leaders canceled trips and local authorities called off annual festivals. Pop concerts and weddings were postponed. Television comedies were hastily rewritten to scrub out profanity and undue frivolity. Newscasters abandoned their designer clothes for unobtrusive gray suits to match the country's somber mood. The Japanese call this jishuku (self-restraint), and they mean it.

Not even money seemed to matter. One TV network replaced a popular comedy show with a commercial-free program on baby elephants. The city of Nagoya dutifully passed up an...

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