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Masako takes a solo step into public life

March 22, 2006
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Japan's Crown Princess Masako has given further proof that she's on the road to recovery from the stress-related illness that has blighted her life since 2003. Looking relaxed and confident on what appeared to be her first solo engagement in two years, the 42-year-old royal stepped out on Thursday to meet medical staff at Tokyo's St Luke hospital.

Dressed in a smart, slate grey trouser suit, the princess chatted with doctors in the clinic's pediatric wing. Leaning foward intently Masako was clearly full of interest as she studied information about the department while surgeon Ryota Hosoya talked her through the centre's work.

Her increasing health is likely to be due to the support of her husband Crown Prince Naruhito. Throughout this difficult period in her life the former career diplomat has had his full backing.

Referring to his wife, the heir to the Chrysanthemum throne controversially spoke out in 2004 against unidentified palace officials for "denying her character" within the confines of imperial life. But with her spouse's encouragement the attractive royal been seen out on a number of public engagements since the New Year.

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Photo: ©
The princess visited a Tokyo hospital in what appeared to be her first solo engagement in recent years. Masako's public outings have been marked by an increasing confidence since the New YearPhoto: © AFP
Photo: ©
The royal is all ears as doctors Hiroshi Matsufuji (left) and Ryota Hosoya talk her through the work of the hospitalPhoto: © AFP

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