Crown Princess Masako

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Crown Princess of Japan
Crown Princess Masako on 23 December 2009.
SpouseCrown Prince Naruhito
Aiko, Princess Toshi
Full name
Masako (雅子?)
HouseImperial House of Japan
FatherHisashi Owada
MotherYumiko Egashira
Born(1963-12-09) 9 December 1963 (age 49)
Tokyo, Japan
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Crown Princess of Japan
Crown Princess Masako on 23 December 2009.
SpouseCrown Prince Naruhito
Aiko, Princess Toshi
Full name
Masako (雅子?)
HouseImperial House of Japan
FatherHisashi Owada
MotherYumiko Egashira
Born(1963-12-09) 9 December 1963 (age 49)
Tokyo, Japan
Japanese Imperial Family
Imperial Seal of Japan.svg

HIM The Emperor
HIM The Empress

HIH The Prince Hitachi
HIH The Princess Hitachi

HIH The Prince Mikasa
HIH The Princess Mikasa

Crown Princess Masako (皇太子徳仁親王妃雅子 Kōtaishi Naruhito Shinnōhi Masako?), née Masako Owada (小和田雅子 Owada Masako?, born 9 December 1963) is the wife of Crown Prince Naruhito, the first son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, and a member of the Imperial House of Japan through marriage.


Early life and education

Born in Tokyo, Japan on 9 December 1963, she was originally named Masako Owada (小和田雅子 Owada Masako?). She is the eldest daughter of Hisashi Owada, a senior diplomat, and former President of the International Court of Justice. She has two younger sisters, twins named Setsuko and Reiko.[1]

Masako went to live in Moscow with her parents when she was two years old, where she completed her kindergarten education. Upon returning to Japan, she attended a private girls' school in Tokyo, Denenchofu Futaba, from elementary school through her second year of senior high school. Masako and her family moved to the United States, and settled in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts called Belmont, when her father became a guest professor at Harvard University and vice ambassador to the United States. In 1981, she graduated from Belmont High School, where she was president of the National Honor Society.[2] Masako enrolled at Radcliffe College.

Princess Masako holds an A.B. magna cum laude in Economics from Harvard College and attended but did not finish the graduate course in International Relations at Balliol College, Oxford University. Her senior thesis advisor at Harvard was Jeffrey Sachs. She also studied briefly at the University of Tokyo, where her father taught, in preparation for the entrance examinations at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[3]

In addition to her native Japanese, she is fluent in English and French, and is said to be of conversational standard in German, Russian, and Spanish.[4][5]


Masako was formerly employed by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she worked with her father, the Director General and prospective Vice Minister.[6] During her career she met many world leaders, such as U.S. president Bill Clinton and Russian president Boris Yeltsin. She also took part as a translator in negotiations with the United States concerning superconductors.


500-yen coin was issued to commemorate the Imperial Wedding

Masako first met the prince when she was a student at the University of Tokyo in November 1986, although some say they had actually met previously when her father served as an escort to members of the Imperial Family. Masako and the prince were pursued relentlessly by the press throughout 1987.[1]

Masako's name disappeared from the list of possible royal brides due to controversy about her maternal grandfather, Yutaka Egashira, Chairman of Chisso, a corporation infamous for the Minamata disease, a major pollution scandal. Behind the scenes, however, her relationship with the prince continued unabated. The Prince proposed several times before Masako finally honored his request on 9 December 1992. The Imperial Household Council formally announced the engagement on 19 January 1993 and the engagement ceremony was held on 12 April 1993. Although many were surprised at the news (as it was believed that the prince and Masako had gone their separate ways), the engagement was met with a surge of renewed media attention directed towards the imperial family and their new princess.

Masako was joined in marriage with His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Naruhito in a traditional wedding ceremony on 9 June 1993.[7] By virtue of the marriage, Masako Owada assumed the formal predicate Her Imperial Highness The Crown Princess of Japan. In addition, she was placed in the Japanese Imperial Order of Precedence (used for the most formal occasions) behind her mother-in-law, Empress Michiko, and her grandmother-in-law, Empress Dowager Nagako.

Family and succession

The Crown Princess' first pregnancy was announced in December 1999, but she miscarried.[8]

Princess Aiko

The Crown Prince and Crown Princess have a daughter:

Aiko, Princess Toshi (敬宮愛子内親王 Toshi-no-miya Aiko Naishinnō?, born 1 December 2001)[9][10]

Their daughter Aiko's birth, which occurred more than eight years after their marriage, sparked lively debate in Japan about whether the The Imperial Household Law of 1947 should be changed from that of agnatic primogeniture to either cognatic or absolute primogeniture, which would allow a woman to succeed to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

A government-appointed panel of experts submitted a report on 25 October 2005, recommending that the Imperial Succession Law be amended to permit absolute primogeniture. On 20 January 2006, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi used part of his annual keynote speech to address the controversy when he pledged to submit a bill to the Diet letting women ascend to the throne in order that the imperial throne be continued into the future in a stable manner. Koizumi did not announce a timing for the legislation to be introduced nor did he provide details about the content but he did note that it would be in line with the conclusions of the 2005 Government Panel.


Plans to change the male-only law of Imperial succession were shelved after it was announced in February 2006 that Masako's brother-in-law, Prince Akishino, and his wife Princess Akishino were expecting their third child. On 6 September 2006, Princess Akishino gave birth to a son, Hisahito, who is third-in-line to the Chrysanthemum Throne under the current law, after his uncle, the Crown Prince and his father, Prince Akishino.[11][12][13]

Public service

The Crown Princess (left) with the other members of the Imperial Family on the occasion of the Emperor's Birthday at the Tokyo Imperial Palace, December 2005

Crown Prince Naruhito attends, together with Crown Princess Masako, events and ceremonies within the Imperial Palace, including ceremonies for the New Year and other events such as the Emperor and Empress' Garden Parties.[14] On the occasion of visits by State guests from overseas, they attend welcome receptions, Court luncheons and State banquets at the Imperial Palace.[14]

The Crown Prince attends, together with the Crown Princess, a variety of ceremonies, international and national tournaments and other events held in Japan.[14] Important events they have attended include the National Awards Ceremony for the Promotion of Blood Donation, the National Inter-High School Championship, the National Cultural Festival, the National Tree-Care Festival, the National Sports Games for the Disabled, the Protect the Greenery Gathering, and the National Leaders of Agriculture Summit, during the course of which they have also been able to review for themselves the regions of Japan.[14]

The work of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess includes such official duties at the Crown Prince's Residence as meeting with dignitaries from Japan and overseas, receiving Japanese ambassadors and their spouses before their postings abroad and receiving foreign ambassadors and their spouses before their departure from Japan. They also meet with foreign study groups visiting Japan and representatives of domestic youth groups.[14]

The Crown Princess has also been an Honorary Vice-President of the Japanese Red Cross Society since April 1994.[14]

The Crown Prince and Crown Princess have made visits to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar and the State of Bahrain in 1994, to the State of Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1995, and again to Jordan in 1999.[14] Additionally in 1999, they visited the Kingdom of Belgium on the occasion of the wedding of Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant.[14] In 2002, they paid a visit to New Zealand and the Commonwealth of Australia.[14] In 2006, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess went to Netherlands with their daughter, the Princess Toshi, to visit and stay for recuperation at the invitation of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.[15]


Princess Masako has remained largely out of the public eye since 2002, reportedly due to emotional disorders which many speculate are caused by the pressure to produce a male heir and adjusting to life in the Imperial Family.[16][17] In July 2004, she was diagnosed as suffering from adjustment disorder and is reported to be seeking treatment.[18][19][20]

On July 11, 2008, Naruhito sought public understanding for his ailing wife. He was on an eight-day trip to Spain without her:[21] "I would like the public to understand that Masako is continuing to make her utmost efforts with the help of those around her. Please continue to watch over her kindly and over the long term." Pressures to produce a male heir, to conform with the ancient traditions and a 1947 Imperial Law are perceived to be behind her illness, as well as negative media coverage of her behavior, the stress of royal responsibility and public life, and turf battles among the Imperial Household Agency.[22][23]

In December 2012, at the time of her 49th birthday, the Princess issued a statement thanking the Japanese people for their support and saying that she was still receiving treatment for her illness.[24]

The Japanese Constitution does not allow the members of the Imperial Family to engage in political activities. The Prince stated controversial comments about discourtesies and pressures placed on his wife by the Imperial Household Agency and his wife's desire to pursue the life of a diplomat.[25]

Titles and styles

Styles of
Crown Princess Masako
Imperial Seal of Japan.svg
Reference styleHer Imperial Highness
Spoken styleYour Imperial Highness
Alternative styleMa'am


Standard of the Crown Princess

See also List of honours of the Japanese Imperial Family by country

National honours

Foreign honours

Honorary Positions


Princess Toshi1 December 2001

See also


  1. ^ a b Sanz, Cynthia (21 June 1993). "The Princess Bride". People 39 (24).,,20110658,00.html. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  2. ^ Green, Michelle (25 January 1993). "Princess Bride: Oft Rejected, Japan's Crown Prince Gets a 'Yes' from a Harvard Grad". People 39 (3).,,20109655,00.html. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  3. ^ Sato, Mariko (19 May 2009). "Princess Masako: Weight of Imperial world on Princess Masako". The Japan Times. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  4. ^ Hills, Ben (2006). Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne. London; New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. p. 110. ISBN 1-58542-568-0. OCLC 76074219.,+Russian+and+Spanish+masako#v=onepage&f=false.
  5. ^ Ruoff, Kenneth J. (2002). The People's Emperor: Democracy and the Japanese Monarchy, 1945–1995. Volume 211 of Harvard East Asian monographs. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center. p. 249. ISBN 0-674-01088-4. OCLC 55102604.
  6. ^ "The Imperial Family". Japan Zone. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  7. ^ Hills, Ben (2006). Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne. London; New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. p. 2. ISBN 1-58542-568-0. OCLC 76074219.
  8. ^ "Royal life takes its toll on Japan's crown princess". China Daily. 2 August 2004. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Girl Born to Japan's Princess". The New York Times. 1 December 2001. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  10. ^ French, Howard W. (8 December 2001). "Japan: A Name For The Royal Baby". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  11. ^ "Japan princess gives birth to boy". BBC News. 6 September 2006. Retrieved 6 September 2006.
  12. ^ Walsh, Bryan (5 September 2006). "Japan Celebrates: It's a Boy!". Time.,8599,1531895,00.html. Retrieved 16 November 2011..
  13. ^ Yoshida, Reiji (27 March 2007). "Japan's Imperial Family: Life in the Cloudy Imperial Fishbowl". The Japan Times. FYI (weekly column). Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Activities of Their Imperial Highnesses Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako". Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  15. ^ "List of Overseas Visits by the Emperor, Empress and Imperial Family (1999 – 2008)". The Imperial Household Agency. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  16. ^ "Japan princess makes rare solo public visit". Agence France-Presse. Google News. 2 March 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  17. ^ Lewis, Leo (5 February 2008). "Tabloids turn against the Crown Princess Masako". The Times (London). Archived from the original on 5 February 2008. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  18. ^ "Royal wives seek new role in monarchies". China Daily. 13 July 2004. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  19. ^ "Princess trapped by palace guard". BBC. 3 February 2006. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  20. ^ Sakamoto, Mie (14 June 2008). "'Imperial diplomacy' proves elusive dream". The Japan Times. Kyodo News. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  21. ^ The Independent (London). 22 May 2004.
  22. ^ "Japan's crown prince seeks public understanding for ailing princess". Associated Press. GMA News and Public Affairs. 11 July 2008. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  23. ^ Schreiber, Mark, "Japan's troubled royals put up a brave front", Japan Times 1 January 2012, p. 13.
  24. ^ "Japan's Crown Princess Masako discusses her illness on 49th birthday". Daily Telegraph. 10 Dec 2012.
  25. ^ Cameron, Deborah (24 February 2005). "Airing wife's troubles a turning point: prince". The Age (Melborne). Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  26. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (in German) (pdf). p. 1299. Retrieved November 2012.
  27. ^ "Cidadãos Estrangeiros Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas" (in pt). presidencia. Retrieved 13 June 2012.

External links


Order of precedence in Japan
Preceded by
The Empress
HIH The Crown Princess
Succeeded by
The Princess Akishino