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Masako, Princess

(1963- ). Her Imperial Highness The Crown Princess of Japan. As the wife of the heir apparent to the throne, she will probably become the next Empress of Japan. Born Masako Owada, the eldest daughter of Hisashi Owada, a senior diplomat. Masako traveled the world with her parents from early childhood. She attended kindergarten in Moscow, elementary school in Tokyo, and graduated high school in Belmont, Massachusetts, near Boston. In 1985, she graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a degree in economics. From 1988 to 1990, she read for a postgraduate degree in International Relations at Balliol College, Oxford University. Fluent in English, she was hired by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she met many world leaders such as U.S. president Bill Clinton and Russian president Boris Yeltsin. Masako Owada famously refused Naruhito's royal marriage proposal twice before finally agreeing. Prior to the wedding she was required to undergo a fertility examination to ensure that she could safely deliver an heir to the throne. She also signed a prenuptial agreement that limited her claims to the royal family assets as well as her own children in the event of a divorce. The wedding took place on June 9, 1993. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess produced one child after 8 years of marriage. Her Imperial Highness The Princess Aiko was born on December 1, 2001. Masako suffered three miscarriages, the last on New Year's Eve 1999. Her daughter's birth stimulated intense and ongoing public debate on changing Japan's Imperial Household Law so that females can ascend to the throne. It has been widely speculated that the immense pressure to produce a male heir has put great stress on the Crown Princess. The Prince has made pointed and controversial comments about discourtesies and pressures placed upon his wife by the Imperial Household Agency. It was announced that the Crown Princess experienced a bout of shingles, and she herself released a rare statement that she was suffering from "fatigue." Rumors linger that the Crown Princess suffered a nervous breakdown. International media coverage of Masako's difficulties has tended to frame her as a symbol of challenges faced by Japanese women in a patriarchial society. (from Wikipedia)

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