• Kyodo

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Dutch media have reported a rare private trip to the Netherlands by Crown Prince Naruhito and his family — and Japanese reporters who converged in the country to cover the visit — with a sense of curiosity.

In its electronic edition Thursday, Trouw, a Christian-leaning Dutch newspaper, said an official reason for Crown Princess Masako’s trip to the Netherlands is to convalesce, but the visit is more likely to be “an escape.”

The paper said the 42-year-old Crown Princess has been under pressure due to the need to give birth to a male, who would be next in line to the throne after Crown Prince Naruhito, but they have only a daughter, Princess Aiko.

Princess Aiko, 4, cannot become the reigning empress under the current male-only Imperial succession law.

The paper suggested that given the Crown Princess’ unsuccessful track record at changing the conservative Imperial court, her latest recuperation abroad may be her final chance for self-emancipation.

Meanwhile, De Telegraaf, a Dutch newspaper with a national circulation, paid attention to Japanese reporters on the front page of its Friday edition, saying they have come to the eastern Dutch city of Apeldoorn in throngs to catch a glimpse at the Crown Prince’s family.

The family has been staying at Het Oude Loo, a 15th-century royal castle in the city, since arriving in the Netherlands on Thursday.

On Friday, the family visited the Royal Stables near the castle with Queen Beatrix and other members of the Dutch royal family for a photo session. The event was open to the media.

De Telegraaf’s electronic edition doubted that Japanese journalists would have a better opportunity to see the royal couple because the castle is hidden from public view.

Dutch newspapers, including Algemeen Dagblad and De Telegraaf, all ran big photos of Friday’s event in their Saturday editions.

In its photo caption, Algemeen said, “The Japanese have shown great interest in the Imperial holidays because the Crown Prince’s family rarely appears in public.”

De Telegraaf, in its Saturday edition, referred to a rumor apparently circulating in the Netherlands that the Crown Princess wants to see a “European specialist” during her trip to consult about her condition. A Japanese newspaper reporter quoted in the article called the rumor unfounded.

Crown Prince Naruhito and family will stay in the Netherlands until Aug. 30 and return to Tokyo the following day.

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