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Newly released photographs show the princess at home with her husband, their daughter Aiko and the family pets
Photo: © Radial
Click on photos to enlarge

While the crown prince, who celebrates his 47th birthday on Friday, assured the public his wife was slowly but surely improving, he also emphasised that her recovery needs to be considered from a long-term perspective
Photo: © Radial

Naruhito pleads for patience over Masako's recovery

23 FEBRUARY 2007

Japan's future emperor has called on the people of his country to be patient with Crown Princess Masako. Speaking just a few days ahead of his 47th birthday, Crown Prince Naruhito said his wife was slowly recovering from the emotional problems she has been suffering for the past three years.

"Masako is making as much effort as possible, and slowly her condition is improving," said the prince. "But she still tires, and the doctors say how much she can do still must be judged on a case-by-case basis. I would like to ask the Japanese people to understand the situation and watch over us from a long-term perspective."

The princess, who was a successful diplomat before marrying into the royal household, largely withdrew from public life in 2003. In the past year she has been seen out and about on a number of occasions, however.

Most experts attributed her difficulties to the pressure on her to produce a male heir, but that problem is thought to have been alleviated somewhat by the arrival of her nephew, Prince Hisahito, who was born in September.

New pictures released to mark Naruhito's birthday show the princess, looking well and relaxed, with her husband and their five-year-old daughter, Aiko. The images show the family playing cards together at their Tokyo home, Togu Palace.

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