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Japan's Princess Feels Social Pressure

Future of world's oldest royal dynasty uncertain...

Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito has pleaded for his wife be freed up from pressure to give birth to a second child.

Besides the stress of being crown princess, "there has been a lot of pressure on her regarding the issue of our successor," Naruhito told a news conference held prior to his birthday.

Public duties had been slightly reduced since the couple had their first child in 2001, but she "has come once again under the pressure of the successor issue," he said.

"I would like her to take a good rest by getting all of this off her mind," he said. "Regarding our second child, we should think first about Masako's recovery."

Masako gave birth to a baby girl in December 2001, after more than eight years of marriage, but the child, Aiko, cannot ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne under the current male-only succession law.

Some quarters of Japanese society have been calling for a second child, preferably a boy.

Masako herself admitted in a statement last month that the pressure of living in the world's oldest royal dynasty might have led to her recent poor health.

She said that her "mental and physical weariness" had accumulated, particularly after the birth of Aiko, resulting a bout of shingles which emerged last month.