Crown Prince Naruhito and Family: News & Photos 2

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Nov 8, 2002

3 MARCH 2003
The Japanese monarchy is reportedly working on plans to give women access to the throne. It is believed that Crown Prince Naruhito intends to change the constitution so that his daughter, little Princess Aiko, can become the country's first empress in 250 years.

One-year-old Aiko is the crown prince's only child and Japanese courtiers say that a change to the law may be necessary if he and his 39-year-old wife Masako do not have a son soon.

The couple spent eight years trying for a baby – and suffered one miscarriage – before Aiko was born in 2001. And while the proud parents are obviously overjoyed with their child, Palace sources point out that a boy has not been born into the family for 37 years. Legal amendments to allow Aiko accession are therefore being considered, despite the concerns of some traditionalists.

Sources at the Imperial Household have expressed concern that such a fundamental change in the system could provoke a wider debate on the very existence of the monarchy.

Emperor Akihito has shown, however, that he is unafraid of public discourse. In the 15 years since he took the helm of the 1500-year-old monarchy, the emperor has been discreetly modernising its institutions and practices.

If he were to clear a path for Aiko to become empress, the 43-year-old crown prince would also be striking a significant blow for women in Japan. The symbolic importance of a female leader might prove very important for a country where women are still poorly represented in politics and business.


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Japanese Princess Aiko ©, accompanied by her parents Crown Prince Naruhito (L) and Crown Princess Masako, waves to well-wishers from a bullet train at Tokyo railway station August 23, 2003. The royal family was departing for their summer villa in Nasu, north of Tokyo. REUTERS/Kimimasa Mayama


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leaving hospital - 2001, December 9th


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Princess Aiko Visits Her Maternal Grandparents at Home


Twenty-one-month-old Princess Aiko of Japan made her first visit to the home of her maternal grandparents this week. Accompanied by her mum, Crown Princess Masako, the toddler was warmly welcomed by Hisashi and Yumiko Owada at their Tokyo residence.

The release of the intimate photos of the visit was further evidence of the new openness of approach adopted by the Japanes royal family in recent times.

Although Japan's laws of succession do not currently allow a female to ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne, the Aiko's birth sparked much debate on the subject. Her parents had been trying to conceive for eight years before Crown Princess Masako suffered a miscarriage in 1999, making Aiko's arrival in 2001 - after the princess was treated by one of Japan's leading fertility specialists - an especially joyous occasion.

The fact remains, however, that no male heir has been born into the family for nearly four decades, leading to the subject of female accession becoming even more pressing.

"This is a politically sensitive issue, so we can't publicly admit we are researching the possibility," a senior palace source has said. "But as a matter of fact we are, and we would be negligent not to."

Should Crown Prince Naruhito, 43, and 39-year-old Masako not have a male offspring in the next few years, resulting in constitutional change, it would transform the status of women in one of the world's most conservative societies.

If she does end up ascending to the throne, Aiko would be the first Empress in two and a half centuries to reign over the world's oldest hereditary monarchy.


As a thank you for all the wonderful pictures of Aiko that I was able to add to my collection from this board, I am posting some that I did not see here!


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Isn't she precious?


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Two more shots at 6 months old


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Princess Aiko and Mother 8/22/02


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Aiko and Mother 8/27/02


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aiko 5/14/02


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Princess Aiko at Naming Ceremony in her ivory silk robe 3/13/02


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another view of Aiko at naming ceremony


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Thank you for your posting them, almab :flower:

They are very nice pics!
Hi I want to do some fanart
but i need some good pictures of the princess can you help me?
Aiko is very cute and adorable. After seeing the news, it's clear that her parents love her sooo much. She's so lucky to have been her parents' only sweetheart and especially her daddy's.
Thanks for posting these, they are really good!
nice pictures!
She is really very cute. I love her cheeks and her eyes. :)
Yahoo News

Princess Masako admits pressure of living in Japan's royal family

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's Crown Princess Masako, a 40-year-old former elite diplomat, said that the pressure of living in the world's oldest royal dynasty might have led to her recent poor health.

"Since my marriage some 10 years ago, I have always tried to do my utmost under the great pressure of an environment with which I was not familiar," she said Friday in a comment released by the Imperial Household Agency.

She added that "mental and physical weariness" had been accumulated, particularly after the birth of her only child in 2001, resulting in her bout with shingles which emerged last month.

The wife of 43-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito, the first in line to the Chrysanthemum throne, has cancelled her official duties for a few months since her five-day hospitalisation a month earlier.

On December 1, the couple's only child, Princess Aiko, celebrated her second birthday. Aiko's birth came eight years after Naruhito and Masako were married in 1993, ending an anxious wait by the nation.

Masako, who was born into the family of a prominent diplomat and graduated from the elite US university of Harvard, said she had tried her best to perform her official duties since Aiko's birth.

"But ... my condition has deteriorated to a point where I could not fully perform my official duties recently," she said.

Masako added that she took it upon herself to rest up mentally and physically with the aim of returning to her official duties in top condition "as soon as possible".

The comment with all its candor may reflect the more open role expected of Japan's royal family after its emperor was reduced from the demi-god of Shintoism to a mere "symbol" of the people's unity after World War II.
I feel so much for Masako after reading this article. She sounds like she has been under tremendous pressure and scrutiny, not just with having a baby but in general.

And I admire her so much more since seeing pictures of her in the period after Aiko's birth and before her bout with the shingles and withdrawal from public life, Masako always had a smile on her face and seemed to be so cheerful and happy. And meanwhile, all this time, inside she was struggling and suffering.

I know that pictures of Masako and Naruhito and Aiko visiting Masako's parents were posted here some time back, but I was wondering if anyone could tell me how far away her parents live? Might they be able to visit Masako more often and be more of a support system to her closer? (Of course they can do this from a far, too, but sometimes I think it's just nice to have someone close to you.)
She seems like a lovely (and a very intelligent) lady. Can't help thinking that she must feel very isolated by her position..
Originally posted by jun5@Jan 10th, 2004 - 9:20 am
I personally think that she might be exhausted very much for the pressure to an heir.

Does she seem to be a caged bird? In fact, I think that she has less freedom than the royal princess of other countries.

I wish she is good very soon...
Thank you for your input on this, jun5. It has been very insightful.

And I think you're very right about Emperess Michiko being the only one who can understand how difficult life has been for Masako. And it's very sympathetic and kind and understanding of the Emperess to pay special attention to Masako and to show a bit more concern for her.

I have not read many stories about Masako, but from the few I've read, Masako seems to have lived a Westernized life prior to marrying Naruhito. She is very well educated and very well spoken, she has worked, travelled and lived abroad and by all accounts seemed like a highly independent woman. And the Imperial family seems to be very conservative and traditional, so in many ways Masako probably had to 'curb' a lot of what she wanted to do or say.

And the pressure of producing an heir, specifically a male heir would be tremendously stressful. Before Aiko was born, she miscarried because of the constant scrutiny and stress, didn't she?

And I agree absolutely, jun5. I think Masako, while she may hold the same title as some of the other European CPs, has a much harder life.

The "caged bird" is a most eloqent way of putting Masako's situation. Very well said! :flower:
NASU, JAPAN - AUGUST 25: Princess Aiko visits a cattle run with her parents Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako August 25, 2003 in Nasu, Japan.


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The most adorable ... :blush:

Polfoto 20-02-2004 Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito, left, and Crown Princess Masako, right, pose for pictures with their daughter Princess Aiko at the Togu Palace in Tokyo, Thursday, Feb. 12 2004. Crown Prince Naruhito celebrates his 44th birthday Monday, Feb. 23, 2004.

Naruhito, Masako and the adorable Aiko
JAPAN'S MASAKO A modern princess seeks harmony in a traditional world

Masako Owada was an ambitious, career-driven 29-year-old diplomat when she took on the challenge of a lifetime – becoming a crown princess in the world's oldest reigning family. More than ten years on, suffering from, as she described it "physical and mental fatigue", the princess disappeared from public view for more than a month, retreating from the spotlight – and, it seems, the Imperial Palace – to seek comfort at her parents' mountain home.

As Masako returns to life in Tokyo – although not to her official duties – takes a closer look at the princess, her life, her marriage and how she has struggled to cope with the pressures of being a crown princess.

"Although Japanese tradition dates the country's first emperor to 660 BC, written records place the first hereditary head of a unified state early in the fifth century AD. The current emperor, Akihito, who is also head priest of the country’s Shinto religion, is 125th in a line of descendants of the Japanese imperial family, most of whom held semi-divine status.

After WWII, Akihito’s father, Emperor Hirohito, renounced the god-like association of Japanese emperors, and aimed to promote a more human side to the imperial family. He made public appearances and allowed reports on his personal life to be published, something which had previously been forbidden. Hirohito became the country's first monarch to travel abroad, and broke with tradition in allowing his son to marry a commoner – today’s Empress Michiko.

Consistently behind the throne, however, protecting and upholding centuries-old traditions and rituals, has been the Imperial Household Agency, a unit responsible for every aspect of running the palace. The rigid nature of the conservative Agency, which is noted for its secrecy, has been cited in both the slow modernisation of the monarchy and the difficulties those who have married into the family have experienced. It is an assessment those at the Agency, a staid, elderly male establishment, tend to disagree with.

""Some of the media think that this is a very traditional, strange tribe who hide behind a chrysanthemum curtain just praying to God," says the emperor's grand chamberlain. "And some think it's a very modern existence. Actually, it's a combination of the two."

Signs of change do emerge – for example, Emperor Akihito broke precedent in acknowledging his recent bout with cancer, and not so long ago Empress Michiko made her first overseas solo trip in 43 years of marriage. But with the birth of the crown prince's only child, daughter Aiko – a male has not been born to the current Imperial family in 38 years – it now looks like the Imperial Palace may be facing a more dramatic change. Though eight empresses have ruled Japan in its 2,700-year history, in the late 19th century females were barred from the throne. Aiko's birth has sparked talk of overturning the law, with 90-year-old Princess Takamatsu making an unprecedented statement in support of change in 2002. "In view of Japan's long history," she said, "I do not think it is unnatural to assume a female member of the imperial family will become the 127th monarch."

"Born in 1963, the eldest daughter of a top Japanese diplomat, as a child Masako loved sport and animals, and had considered becoming a vet. She was outspoken in class, displayed a love of learning and showed an independent streak, organising a school softball team for girls at a time when the sport was considered unfeminine.

Her strong-willed nature – pals said they seldom saw her cry – was combined with a natural knack for diplomacy. "She has the wisdom to adapt herself to any environment," a classmate would say later.

While she was a teenager, her father accepted a two-year teaching job at Harvard University in the US. As a result, Masako, who already spoke English, attended an American high school in Belmont, a Massachusetts suburb, quickly adapting to her new environment, joining the maths team and the French club. After graduating, she entered Harvard, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in economics.

"In 1986, she returned home, enrolling at the University of Tokyo to study law and prepare for the Foreign Ministry entrance exam. She passed after just one year – half the time it takes most candidates – and became one of only five per cent of those to pass the test that year.

By the time she finished her schooling, the first modern career woman to enter the imperial family was a charming, attractive and intelligent young woman who spoke no fewer than five languages – English, French, German, Russian and Japanese.

At 29, though at the time it had never crossed her mind, she was a perfect candidate for royal marriage according to Imperial Household requirements. These included that any bride-to-be should be less than 5ft 5in, under 30 and free of surgery and piercing. Any potential royal bride would also be a virgin. Friends point out that other qualities singled Masako out as a perfect candidate. "She's dignified and self-assured, and she gets along with everybody," said one of her US high school classmates. "She has all the qualities to be an empress."

"It was in the autumn of 1986 that the young diplomat, accompanied by her parents, met Crown Prince Naruhito at a palace party in honour of the Infanta Elena of Spain. Legend has it that more than three dozen potential companions for the crown prince were invited to the party, a list of their names being given to the royal heir in advance. Apparently, Masako was added at the last minute, her name handwritten by someone in the Imperial Household Agency.

The crown prince was instantly enamoured of Masako and began to pursue her. This despite objections from his advisers, who believed she was an inappropriate choice in light of a relative's involvement with a chemical company which had once caused an environmental disaster. Naruhito was undeterred, and determined to make Masako his wife.

Years later, in 2002, she would recall: "I never even in my dreams thought that one day I would enter the Imperial Family." And it seems Masako, who had just passed the Foreign Ministry exam when she crossed paths with her future husband, almost didn’t.

"While Masako seems to have delivered a coup de foudre for the crown prince, the career-driven object of his affections was less enthusiastic about striking up a romance with the future emperor. Although Naruhito pursued the young beauty assiduously, she, apparently concerned about the implications of joining the royal family, politely turned down his marriage proposal not once, but twice.

Having rejected the first proposal Masako went on with her life, embarking upon a two-year course at Balliol College, Oxford, before returning home to become a speechwriter for the Japanese prime minister. Five years were to pass before the pair met again. When, a few weeks later, her royal beau proposed for a second time, Masako’s answer was once again no.

At the end of 1992 – and after lengthy discussions with both her parents and, according to some press report, the empress – Masako finally accepted. Later, perhaps foreseeing the issues that would arise, the princess said her future husband had assured her: "You might have fears and worries about joining the Imperial Household. But I will protect you my entire life."
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