Japanese palace officials announced today that Crown Princess Masako had been pregnant but suffered a miscarriage.
The unofficial leaks earlier this month that Masako, 36, may have been pregnant after six years of marriage to the emperor’s son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 39, had set off a media frenzy here.
“Pregnancy of happiness,” the Shukan Asahi weekly magazine announced when the news broke.
The emperor is only a symbol of the nation, with no political powers since the end of World War II. But even Japanese critics of the imperial system are a little uncomfortable with the idea of the imperial line totally dying out, and the royal family is facing something of a succession crisis.
Only males can ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne, but Naruhito, who is first in line to succeed Emperor Akihito, doesn’t have any children. His brother Akishino has two children, both girls.
No reasons were given for the princess’ miscarriage, but surgery was carried out Thursday to remove the fetus, Imperial Household Agency officials said.
Masako was in good condition at the palace hospital, they said.
Reflecting widespread sentiment, Miho Takahashi, a 28-year-old technician, said she felt a trifle sorry for Masako.
“There is too much pressure on her to have a child. She is just a human being,” she said.