TOKYO – In comments marking her 51st birthday on Tuesday, Japanese Crown Princess Masako said that she continues to recover from the depression that has afflicted her for more than a decade.
“With the help of people around me, I would like to continue making efforts to recover,” Masako said in a statement released by the Imperial Household Agency.
She also said she wanted to thank the Japanese people for their warm support which served as great encouragement in improving her health.
Masako has limited her public appearances and official commitments since the Imperial Household revealed in 2003 that she was suffering from stress-induced depression.
Several people have attributed this stress to the rigid protocols of the imperial family and the immense pressure of being expected to produce a male child to carry on the line of succession.
The medical team attending Masako said that the princess continues to recover and termed her recent participation in official ceremonies as a positive sign, adding that there are still ups and downs in her health, the Kyodo news agency reported.
In the last 11 years, the “sad princess” – as she is popularly known – has accompanied Crown Prince Naruhito on only one foreign visit when they visited Amsterdam to attend the crowning of Willem-Alexander and Maxima of the Netherlands in April 2013.
Last November, Masako visited the Aichi prefecture along with her husband to participate in an official ceremony in what was the first occasion of her leaving the Imperial Palace at Tokyo this year.
Japanese media and experts on the imperial family have attributed her condition to the pressure of meeting the expectations of bearing a male child who can be an heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne.
After a miscarriage in 1999, Masako gave birth to a girl, princess Aiko, after two years.