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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 July, 2005, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Japan's princess on public view
Japan's Crown Princess Masako and Crown Prince Naruhito
Masako and Naruhito are under pressure to produce a boy
Japan's Crown Princess Masako has taken part in her first public engagement outside Tokyo since retreating behind closed doors a year-and-a-half ago.

She accompanied her husband, Crown Prince Naruhito, to central Japan for the World Exposition technology show.

Masako withdrew from public view in December 2003 suffering from depression and anxiety.

The ailments were said to be due to the strains of palace life and intense pressure to produce a male heir.

She has attended limited official events since but only in Tokyo.

Royal household officials cleared Masako, 41, to make the 250km (160 mile) trip on a bullet train to central Aichi province for the exposition.

Crisis

She smiled as she walked a few steps behind her husband and met officials at the show.

However, she was accompanied by a nurse, and the household said the engagement did not signal a full comeback.

"This does not mean the princess will perform duties actively," a palace spokesman said. "Things will depend on the princess' condition."

Masako gave up a diplomatic career when she agreed to marry Naruhito.

The couple have one child, three-year-old Princess Aiko, but under imperial law only a male heir can ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne.

The succession crisis is the most serious in Japan in centuries, and has forced the government to consider changing the male-only succession law.



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