Princess Masako of Japan is set to carry out her first official engagement overseas in more than two years, signalling a return to her good health. The princess, who has slowly but surely made a gradual return to the spotlight after suffering from adjustment disorder, will travel to Tonga next month.
Masako will accompany her husband Crown Prince Naruhito to the South Pacific island nation from 2 to 6 July, according to various reports.
The couple will attend the coronation of King Tupou VI, which is set for the fourth of July, followed by an official luncheon at the request of the Tonga government.
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Princess Masako of Japan has suffered with adjustment disorder for 11 years
While Masako and Naruhito will be in Tonga for a few days, the princess' exact schedule has not been confirmed but it is expected that she will make an appearance at, at least, these two events, The Asahi Shimbun has reported.
The Japanese royal family and their counterparts in Tonga enjoy a close relationship. Naruhito, who will one day be the Emperor of Japan, attended the state funeral of King Tupou IV in September 2006 and also the coronation of King Tupou V in August 2008.
It is only natural, therefore, that the prince will attend the upcoming coronation of Tupou VI but the matter of whether his wife would accompany him remained unclear.
Masako, who has one daughter Princess Aiko, will accompany her husband Crown Prince Naruhito to Tonga
The decision for Masako to travel was not made lightly, and it was only after careful consideration and in-depth talks with her doctors that she was given the go-ahead. Her main doctor will not accompany her on the trip, The Japan News added.
Masako was first diagnosed with adjustment disorder, also known as situational depression, in 2004. Several reports claimed that the 51-year-old, who has a daughter Aiko with her husband, felt under pressure to produce a male heir and live a royal life in the spotlight.
She has gradually made appearances at more high-profile events and in December 2012, Masako issued a statement on her 49th birthday thanking the Japanese people for their support and reiterating that she was receiving treatment for her illness.
The princess' most recent official trip abroad was in 2013 when she visited the Netherlands for King Willem-Alexander's coronation
Her last official trip overseas took place in 2013 when she and Naruhito attended the coronation of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. Willem-Alexander's wife Queen Máxima has proved a close friend to Masako, and according to The Asahi Shimbun, Máxima played an important role in the princess' improving health.
Masako and Naruhito also welcomed the Dutch royals to Japan on their official tour last October.