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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Prince Naruhito and Princess Masaka

Prince Naruhito,the eldest son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, is the heir apparent to the Chrysanthemum Throne of Japan. While in his early thirties, Naruhito met and fell in love with Masaka Owada, a beautiful, intelligent and highly accomplished diplomat in the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Masaka Owada’s resume is impressive, to say the least. At the time of their meeting when she was 29,  Masako had earned an A.B. magna cum laude in Economics from Harvard University, and had attended  graduate courses in International Relations at Balliol College, Oxford University. She had also studied briefly at the University of Tokyo, in preparation for the entrance examinations at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A native Japanese speaker, she is fluent in English and French, and is conversational  in German, Russian, and Spanish.

Prince Naruhito had met Masaka Owada when her father served as an escort to the Imperial Royal family, and was reacquainted when she was preparing for her Ministry of Foreign Affairs examinations.

The Prince was understandably smitten and sought Masaka’s hand in marriage. Her name had been removed from the list of potential matches for Naruhito, due to some political scandal in her family’s past, but apparently the Prince did not get the message. Their relationship continued and he proposed twice before Masaka accepted his hand in marriage.

I think that her reluctance had nothing to do with affairs of the heart, but more to do with affairs of state. It’s hard to imagine what it must be like for such an accomplished woman to relinquish all independence and individual success to enter a royal marriage.

Perhaps Masaka’s deepest fears ended up coming true. After years of trying to produce that all important male heir, the royal couple announced the birth of their daughter on December 1, 2001. Despite the fact that many in Japan would welcome an amendment to the Imperial Succession Law, it appears  that Princess Toshi, as she is known, will have no right to the Chrysanthemum Throne of Japan. Like her mother, she might only be looking forward to a life in which she plays a supportive, never a leading role.

Masaka Owada, former female superstar, is now known as the Princess who can’t produce, and the woman who suffers from “adjustment disorder”, more commonly referred to as anxiety and depression. Her husband, who I’m sure, still adores her, actually appealed to the public to be more understanding of his wife’s condition.

 "I would like you 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..."

Maybe she should have refused that marriage proposal just one more time.