As an adult, said a friend, the diplomat had "all the qualities to be an empress"
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"In 1986, she returned home, enrolling at the University of Tokyo to study law and prepare for the Foreign Ministry entrance exam. She passed after just one year – half the time it takes most candidates – and became one of only five per cent of those to pass the test that year.
By the time she finished her schooling, the first modern career woman to enter the imperial family was a charming, attractive and intelligent young woman who spoke no fewer than five languages – English, French, German, Russian and Japanese.
At 29, though at the time it had never crossed her mind, she was a perfect candidate for royal marriage according to Imperial Household requirements. These included that any bride-to-be should be less than 5ft 5in, under 30 and free of surgery and piercing. Any potential royal bride would also be a virgin. Friends point out that other qualities singled Masako out as a perfect candidate. "She's dignified and self-assured, and she gets along with everybody," said one of her US high school classmates. "She has all the qualities to be an empress."