Japanese princess takes a break from public life

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JAPAN’S crown princess is taking a break from public duties to recover from the strain of living her life in the public eye as a member of the imperial family.

After a decade in the spotlight, Princess Masako, 40, has been forced to cancel her official duties for several months after spending five days in hospital in December with shingles, blaming the pressures of royal life.

"Since my marriage more than ten years ago, I have tried my best under huge pressure and in an environment with which I was not familiar," the princess said in a statement released by the imperial household agency.

"But I have a feeling that [recent health problems] have resulted from the accumulation of mental and physical fatigue during this time," she said. "My condition has deteriorated to the point where I could not fully perform my official duties recently."

The princess is a graduate of Tokyo University, the most prestigious in Japan, and of Harvard in the United States. She was on the Japanese ministry of foreign affairs’ fast track to becoming a diplomat when she accepted Prince Naruhito’s proposal.