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Princess Masako is the crown princess of Japan. She is best known for her independent nature before she joined the royal family.
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She conceived again—possibly with the help of fertility treatments—and the royal couple welcomed a daughter, Aiko, in 2001. However, according to Japanese law, only a male descendant of the royal family can take the throne, so Masako still faced pressure to give birth to a son.
Masako had to be hospitalized for shingles in 2003, a condition that was attributed to the stress she continued to experience. She stayed out of the spotlight for many years,
dealing with a series of health problems. In 2006, Naruhito's younger brother, Prince Akishino, and his wife, Princess Kiko, had a son, Hisahito. Prince Hisahito became a royal heir, which lessened the pressures on Masako.
In 2012, Masako acknowledged that she had been battling a stress-related illness for a long time and apologized for her absence from public life. The princess said in a statement that she had been receiving treatment and was aware that her condition had "caused so much worry," according to a report in the Telegraph newspaper. Masako explained that she was getting better and hoped her condition would continue to improve "with the help of my doctors and other people around me."
The following April, Masako joined her husband on an official visit to the Netherlands. This was her first official trip abroad since a 2002 journey to Australia and New Zealand. In June 2013, the royal couple celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary, and released a statement that said Masako expected to resume a more active role in official events in the years to come.
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