Children-related causes a major interest despite health problems

Kyodo

Crown Princess Masako has for years interacted with children and ceaselessly provided support despite her stress-induced health problems.

According to a close aide, the Crown Princess, who has visited numerous care institutions, hospitals and attended cultural festivals, has a “desire to get into contact with younger generations.”

Between 1996 and 2002, she attended biannual cultural festivals organized cooperatively by child care welfare facilities in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures four times. The organizers said that after the fourth year of her marriage, she started watching music and dance shows by children in care facilities who for various reasons were separated from their parents.

Even after she stepped back from the public spotlight due to illness in 2005 and 2006, she attended the event to watch the children perform on stage.

Her concern for the kids was sparked when she spotted kids playing instruments outside a facility near the Imperial villa in Hayama, Kanagawa Prefecture.

She reportedly asked the children whether they had been given an opportunity to perform.

Ever since that day, she would encourage the children representing their teams by saying: “You danced really well” or “The practice must have been really hard.”

Over lunch at her first visit to a welfare facility, she talked about children’s living conditions with child care workers.

“(She) asked me about the living conditions of the children and the differences between Japan and other countries,” recalled Toshikazu Takahashi, 74, who then headed the facility. “She seemed well-prepared and familiar with those issues.”