The young Masako was highly intelligent, independent and outspoken
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"Born in 1963, the eldest daughter of a top Japanese diplomat, as a child Masako loved sport and animals, and had considered becoming a vet. She was outspoken in class, displayed a love of learning and showed an independent streak, organising a school softball team for girls at a time when the sport was considered unfeminine.
Her strong-willed nature – pals said they seldom saw her cry – was combined with a natural knack for diplomacy. "She has the wisdom to adapt herself to any environment," a classmate would say later.
While she was a teenager, her father accepted a two-year teaching job at Harvard University in the US. As a result, Masako, who already spoke English, attended an American high school in Belmont, a Massachusetts suburb, quickly adapting to her new environment, joining the maths team and the French club. After graduating, she entered Harvard, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in economics.