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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 12:23 GMT
Japan princess visits Disneyland
Japan's Princess Aiko, 2nd left, accompanied by her parents Crown Prince Naruhito, right, and Princess Masako as she is greeted by Mickey Mouse upon arrival at Tokyo DisneySea, Monday, March 13, 2006.
Princess Aiko met Mickey Mouse and friends
A potential heir to Japan's throne, Princess Aiko, has visited Tokyo Disneyland, in a bid to give her the same experiences as other children.

Imperial Household officials said the princess was able to see what children her age get up to, as she prepares to start kindergarten in April.

But the princess seemed slightly alarmed by the ordeal.

She clung to her mother, Princess Masako, as Disney characters like Mickey Mouse approached to shake hands.

Princess Aiko, the daughter of Japan's heir to the throne Naruhito, is due to enter Gakushuin Kindergarten in Tokyo's Toshima-ku district.

"The family wanted Princess Aiko to have the same experiences as other children of her age," said a spokesman for the Imperial Household Agency.

However, Princess Aiko's visit was different from that of other children's, in that it was closely monitored - some 1,000 plain-clothes officers were on hand.

Last week she was taken to a Tokyo zoo.

First empress?

Princess Aiko's future has been keenly debated because of controversial moves by Japan's prime minister to push for new legislation to let women ascend the throne.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi made the suggestion because of the Imperial family's failure to produce male heirs.

If the rules were changed, Princess Aiko would stand to ascend the throne upon the death of her father.

But Mr Koizumi is thought to have put any talk of change on hold, following the announcement that another member of the Imperial family, Princess Kiko, was pregnant, raising the possibility that she could give birth to a boy.

The strain on Aiko's mother to provide a boy is reported to be responsible for the nervous disorder she has been suffering from for the last two years.

Although she did go with her daughter to Disneyland, Princess Masako has cut down on official duties and will not accompany her husband to Mexico later this week.

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