Japan's Crown Princess turns 53; working towards recovery

Crown Princess Masako with Crown Prince Naruhito and their daughter Princess Aiko. The crown princess had stayed away from royal duties and public appearances for about a decade because of health problems.
Crown Princess Masako with Crown Prince Naruhito and their daughter Princess Aiko. The crown princess had stayed away from royal duties and public appearances for about a decade because of health problems.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOKYO • Crown Princess Masako, who turned 53 yesterday, has participated in 57 official events over the past year, the highest since 2010.

She said she was heartily encouraged by the warm reception she received whenever she visited other parts of Japan, reported Asahi Shimbun.

"I want to continue with efforts towards full recovery," she said in a written statement issued through the Imperial Household Agency to mark her birthday.

The crown princess had stayed away from royal duties and public appearances for about a decade between 2002 and 2012 because of an adjustment disorder brought about by stress.

Her doctors said she has been gaining self-confidence by steadily performing official duties. But her medical team says she has not fully recovered and that her condition remains unstable at times, reported Jiji Press.

"It will be important for her to continue with treatments while receiving the understanding and support of those around her," they said in a separate statement yesterday.

Crown Princess Masako also said in her statement she "took to heart" the August video message in which Emperor Akihito mentioned the difficulties he may face in carrying out his duties due to his old age.

The 82-year-old emperor said in the rare televised message that he hoped to make way for his successor before it became difficult for him to fulfil his duties. A panel of government-appointed experts are holding discussions on the issue.

Crown Princess Masako also apologised yesterday for the concerns raised by her daughter Princess Aiko's recent health problems. Princess Aiko, who turned 15 on Dec 1, missed six weeks of classes in September and October, reported Japanese media. She has since resumed school.

The princess had stomach problems and dizziness, which the Imperial Household Agency attributed to fatigue from studying for exams and practising for a school athletic event.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline 'Japan's Crown Princess turns 53; working towards recovery'. Print Edition | Subscribe